■ BY CATHERINE S. BALLMAN
Anyone who knew Lolo Weir knew she was a lot of fun. This made Lolo, who died December 21, 2017, the spark- plug for many island activities, including the Boca Grande Garden Club. For many years she designed and created the floral table pieces that highlighted the Club’s monthly teas. Distinctive, glamorous and always original, they were just like Lolo.
When searching around for a suitable way to remember Lolo’s many kindnesses, a team of Garden Club members sought something that linked her zestful life with her varied interests. A special interest was children and The Island School. What better than a “Buddy Bench” for the school’s children?
The Buddy Bench is the smart idea of then 7-year-old Christian Bucks. He was facing an overseas move from York, England. Like all kids everywhere, he was a bit anxious about what was ahead for him. He found a solution, a very unlikely solution that depends on human kindness. It’s called the Buddy Bench.
The Buddy Bench has two rules:
- If you are sitting on the bench, you are looking for a friend.
- If you are not sitting on the bench, ask your classmate on the buddy bench to play.
Lolo Weir always invited you to be her friend. Lolo’s popularity grew from the great interest she took in other people. As Susan Bowers says, “Lolo would always be talking about others, not herself.”
Lolo’s Buddy Bench was installed at The Island School in April 2019. Stripes of bold color – a natural choice to commemorate a person who was a “colorful character,” as Susan Bowers puts it – assure that the seat is a standout on the school’s campus. A plaque on the top back slat notes that the bench was placed “in loving memory of our dear friend Lolo Weir.” Engraved onto a sunny yellow slat is what could been Lolo’s guidepost, “To have a friend is to be one.”
Garden Club friends Dan Nuzzi and Willy Radauscher, the school’s security officer, assembled and installed the bench at the school’s front door off of 1st Street.
One more thing: Lolo loved flowers and plants and all living things. Was there a more natural addition to the memorial than the practical addition of a timed irrigation system to the surrounding pots of flowers? Lolo Weir would not have wanted a daily chore to get in the way of a bit of fun.