Custom Engraved Memorial Benches at the Abilene Zoo Honor Respected Community Members’ Legacies

Belson Outdoors teamed up with the Abilene Zoo to create custom engraved memorial benches to honor the memory of Johnny B. and Layfetta Thompson.

Online PR News – 29-July-2011 – – Abilene, TX, July 21, 2011—Belson Outdoors (Belson), the industry leader in commercial grade site amenities for over 60 years, teamed up with the Abilene Zoo and Diversity Garden Committee members to create custom engraved memorial benches for the Diversity Garden at the Abilene Zoo to remember the legacy of the late Rev. Dr. Leo F. Scott and honor the memory of Johnny B. and Layfetta Thompson.

The idea of creating a Diversity Garden came from words spoken in 1950 to Lynda Calcotte when she was just a child. Calcotte was asked, “Have you ever wondered how dull our gardens would be if all the flowers in them were the same color?” Over 60 years later, Calcotte repeated the story at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial, and the words touched the heart of Abilene community member, Roberta Thompson.

Still remembering the words a few years later, Thompson asked Calcotte to share the story at Rev. Dr. Leo F. Scott’s memorial. Repeating the story again, Calcotte realized it was time to create an actual Diversity Garden. The idea was to plant a garden rich in variety of flowers and plants, but to also mirror the diversity of the garden with the diversity of those who planted it. Working together as co-chairs of the Diversity Garden Committee, Calcotte and Thompson reached out to racially and economically diverse youth groups from all over Texas to take part in the creation of the Diversity Garden.

Two memorial benches were also graciously donated by Thompson and Piney Scott, wife of the late Rev. Dr. Leo F. Scott. Thompson donated the bench in memory of her loving parents, Johnny B. and Layfetta Thompson; and Piney in memory of her late husband, who was a leader and role model in the African American community in Texas. Calcotte contacted Belson, a national leader in commercial site furnishings, to find the perfect memorial benches.

Initially, the Diversity Garden Committee was looking for standard recycled plastic benches that they could sandblast the engraving onto themselves. However, through working closely with Customer Service Representative Diane Leonard, Calcote learned Belson could customize the benches and professionally engrave the message for them. Leonard also knew the customers needed the benches fairly quickly, and recommended the Malibu Recycled Plastic for the fast lead out time and custom engraving option on the product line.

Leonard’s efforts proved to be very helpful as Calcote expressed in an email, “Diane, thanks so much for your help and guidance on these two benches. I trust your judgment…” Calcote continued, “It has been so nice to work with you and I appreciate your help and interest in our project so much.”

The Malibu Benches Leonard suggested are constructed with 100% recycled plastic and secured with stainless steel hardware. The contoured back and seat make the bench comfortable for zoo visitors, and the unique frame hides exposed ends to prevent snagging or scraping from sharp corners—making it the perfect bench for a zoo full of children. With the help of Leonard, the Diversity Garden Project was also able to engrave one recycled plastic bench with the words, “In Memory of Rev. Dr. Leo F. Scott, Donated by Piney Scott,” and the other with, “In Memory of Johnny B. & Layfetta Thompson, Donated by Roberta Thompson.”

The engraved Malibu Benches arrived at the Abilene Zoo just three weeks after the order was placed. Calcote contacted Leonard expressing her satisfaction, “Benches look great. Had a blessed day with the youth. They helped assemble benches, planted flowers…” The dedication ceremony was held on May 7th at the Abilene Zoo where community members, Abilene Zoo staff members, and the participating youth groups and their families joined in dedication, song, and prayer.

The Diversity Garden represents its name perfectly with a vibrant bed full of red, yellow, blue, orange, and purple flowers. In the center of the garden is a large natural stone, provided by the zoo, engraved with the question from Calcote’s childhood memory. A peace pole was also installed with the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four different languages: English, Spanish, Animal prints, and Sign Language.

The Abilene Zoo houses over 600 animals and is located in Nelson Park, across from the Taylor County Expo Center, off Highway 36 at 2070 Zoo Lane, Nelson Park, Abilene, TX 79602.

Belson Outdoors, Your Outdoor Superstore®, has been serving the needs of the park and recreation industry since 1948. With a specialty in commercial barbecue grills, picnic tables, park benches, and trash receptacles, Belson Outdoors has grown to a multi-factory operation conducting all sales out of its original headquarters in North Aurora, Illinois. With the help of dedicated customers, employees, and innovative engineering, Belson has become an industry leader in the manufacturing of quality park and recreation equipment. For information on the Recycled Plastic Malibu Benches chosen for the Diversity Garden in the Abilene Zoo, visit, browse the entire website at, or speak to a Belson customer service representative at (800) 323-5664.