GREAT FALLS, MONTANA - This Memorial Day the Great Falls Garden Club and the Rainbow Garden Club will hold a special dedication for a Gold Star Memorial Marker recognizing the sacrifice of Gold Star Families. This Memorial is in honor of all families who have lost a loved one in service to our country through the U.S. Armed Forces. All family members, representing all conflicts, all branches of service and all circumstances of death are to be honored.

Rainbow Garden Club and the Great Falls Flower Growers worked together to purchase and install the marker, located at the Montana Veterans Memorial located in Great Falls.

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The Rainbow Garden Club and the Great Falls Flower Growers are sister clubs and work together on various projects.  The Great Falls Flower Growers was organized in 1933 and was Federated in 1938. “In the beginning both clubs were one organization and as membership grew, we had to divide into two clubs,” said Galia Fundis.  

We are both members of the National Garden Clubs Inc. for the Rocky Mountain Region and Montana Federation of Garden Clubs, District 5. “Many club members’ had mothers who were in the clubs,” Fundis told the Sun Times.  “We are one of the world’s largest volunteer, not for profit organizations and one of our main priorities is to grant scholarships to deserving college students,” she added. The clubs also plant trees and gardens in communities to beautify the areas, have children’s garden clubs and sponsor birthday parties at the Great Falls Senior Citizens Center.  

The clubs also plant gardens at the Paris Gibson Museum, in the park behind the Great Falls Public Library, the garden at Paris Gibson’s grave site, the sensory garden at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind and at Cascade County Court House.

Together the clubs purchased and installed a Blue Star Byway Marker at the Veterans Memorial Park along with two concrete benches and patriotic trees in honor of Veterans.  

This is the second Gold Star Memorial Marker in Montana. Whitehall installed the first one September 29, 2011.  

“Our Garden Clubs are very patriotic and love this country and respect our Veterans, it is our duty to honor our Veterans and their families,” said Fundis.

Each club paid for half the cost of the marker, approximately $250.00 each.  It cost another $750.00 to mount it on granite with a stone base.  Each club had donations to cover that cost.

This will be the 15th annual Memorial Day Ceremony since the dedication of the M.V.M. The Great Falls Flower Growers have planted the patriotic red, white and blue garden there since 2006.  They experimented with a variety of flowers and designs but found that in that area - which is often windy and in direct sun - petunias are the best flowers to plant.  “We need flowers that bloom all summer and can withstand those conditions,” Fundis said.

The Dedication will be short, and the Memorial Day Ceremony will also be shorter than normal, due to the concerns of the pandemic, the clubs will only be allowed about five minutes. The Memorial Day Ceremony at the Montana Veterans Memorial is May 25, 2020 at 2:00 pm.  

For anyone wanting more information, please contact Galia Fundis at fundistown@aol.com.  You can also reach Galia at 761-2961.   Readers can also go on the Montana Federation of Garden Clubs Web site at www.mtfgc.org for more information on the two clubs.