By MICHELLE MUELLER
©The Recorder February 20, 2020
Citizens to Beautify Albion is a grassroots non-profit organization founded by Richard and Elverta Weatherford in 1985. It is dedicated to beautifying Albion by planting flowers along the city’s entrances, its I-94 business loop, and Austin Ave. They’re able to do this by raising funds with the annual Men Who Cook fundraiser and by having community volunteers plant and maintain the flowers during the summer season. The Weatherford Garden is also maintained along with permanent flower planters in the downtown business district.
Richard “Dick” Weatherford was one of three Tuskegee Airmen who lived in Albion. He began his flying career at the John C. Robinson Flight School in Chicago, which was one of the few schools that accepted African-Americans. Weatherford attended Wilberforce University where he studied pre-med and was involved in the Golden Gloves boxing team. Married to Elverta Hawkins since 1941, Dick enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 during World War II. After being accepted into the program, he was trained to fly a B-25 Mitchell bomber at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and became one of the approximately 900 pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
Richard “Dick” Weatherford was one of three Tuskegee Airmen who lived in Albion.
Dick was one of the founders of the Albion Civic Foundation.
Following the War he and Elverta moved to Albion and raised their two children, Tonya and Ricky. Dick and Elverta created a successful business enterprise, the AtoZ Sweeper Shop, which they ran for more than 50 years. Dick was one of the founders of the Albion Civic Foundation. It was while on a car trip with his wife that they drove through a Canadian town which was adorned with numerous flowerbeds along its streets, and the Weatherfords brought the idea back to Albion.
Dick passed away in 2004, and Elverta in 2018. As long as she was able, Elverta Weatherford greeted the Men Who Cook guests at every year’s event, handing each a plate and set of cutlerly.
Since her death, her daughter, Tonya Weatherford Arnett, has carried on the tradition.
Citizens to Beautify Albion is looking for volunteers to help plant flowers, and to keep the roadside gardens weeded and watered during the growing season. This year’s planting day will be Saturday, May 25.
For more information, or to sign up to plant flowers, please go to Citizens to Beautify Albion Facebook Group or call Juanita at 517-629-2072
Citizens to Beautify Albion is looking for volunteers to help plant flowers, and to keep the roadside gardens weeded and watered during the growing season.
Michelle is the author of the book Mr. Bonner: The Story of a Mentoring Journey, which was released in 2019. She has written for The Recorder, the Albion College Io Triumphe magazine, and she is an enthusiastic scrapbooker in her spare time. See more articles by Michelle Mueller here: www.albionmich.net/writer-mueller/
This story is reprinted with permission from The Recorder.
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