One of the largest green spaces in the city will be dedicated to the memory of one of Laredo's most generous philanthropists, the late Lamar Bruni Vergara, in special ceremonies scheduled Wednesday, April 16 at 10 a.m. at Texas A&M International University.
The Lamar Bruni Vergara Memorial Garden, as it will be known, is an 8-acre park that fronts the University's Student Center and was developed through a significant gift from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust.
Wednesday's ceremony includes a Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Bishop James Tamayo and an exhibit featuring Bruni Vergara Trust-funded projects.
University president Dr. Ray Keck said the Memorial Garden will enhance the lives of students at the University and the community it serves.
"Great universities have great campuses and we feel that the addition of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Memorial Garden enhances this campus' greatness, the lives of our students and our community. It will offer a welcome green space for all to reflect, to gather, perhaps read a book and to tap into the many restorative gifts of nature," Dr. Keck said.
He noted that the Garden offers a fitting tribute to its namesake and helps to underscore the dramatic support that the Trust has provided the University.
"In many ways this Garden will physically represent the fertile growth that the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust has made possible here at TAMIU. Through the years, the Trust and its trustees have provided remarkable support that has included program growth assistance, student scholarship and research funding and brick and mortar construction, making us the most fortunate educational beneficiary of the Trust. This partnership has had, and will continue to, dramatically impact our growth. A garden thus becomes the most appropriate representation of our proud partnership," Keck explained.
Trustees Judge Solomon Casseb Jr. and J.C. Martin III said they hope that the Garden will become a favorite place for students and members of the community to celebrate its namesake's legacy.
"I think it's a fitting testament to her lasting affection for this community," said Judge Casseb, " and will become a favorite destination for students and all who visit the campus to pause and reflect on the power of the individual."
"The Trust has extended Lamar Bruni Vergara's legacy in many ways. This Garden is a place where we can all go and celebrate her love for Laredo and the ways that she changed lives now and in the future," Martin explained.
A footbridge from the University's main plaza leads between Dr. F. M. Canseco Hall and the Anthony J. and Georgia A. Pellegrino Hall into the Lamar Bruni Vergara Garden.
The Garden features a series of garden "rooms" that are defined by ligostrum hedges and live oak tree parades and anchored by an impressive stone gazebo and decomposed granite footpath. Benches will soon be strategically placed to allow for visitors to pause and take in the Garden's vistas.
It merges with the University's existing landscaping and links through a series of walkways to the new Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, the Student Center and the Kinesiology-Conovcation Building.
The Garden follows a xeriscaping approach for water conservation and prominently features plantings indigenous to South Texas, including lantana, buddleia, coreopsis, salvia, plumbago, rosemary and verbena. The University has also made it possible for those interested to purchase trees in memory of or recognition of others. These rows of dramatic live oaks are found throughout the garden and will include special plaques honoring these individuals.
Landscape architects for the Garden are Rialto Studio of San Antonio. Project architects are Kell Muñoz, also of San Antonio. Engineering for the Garden was provided by Shah Smith and Associates, Inc., of Houston and construction was by Don Kruger Construction Company of Victoria.
Lamar Bruni Vergara, born in 1910 to Annie Reiser Bruni and Louis H. Bruni, was raised and educated in Laredo and spent much of her life becoming acquainted with the city and its citizens.
Her love for the city, and a fondness for its people lead naturally to a sincere interest in the welfare of the community. Over the years, she dedicated many unselfish hours to the Catholic Church as well as local social service organizations.
As her health declined in later years, Vergara called upon her cousin J.C. Martin Jr. and longtime friend, Solomon Casseb Jr. to ensure that her mission of caring for the community would continue after her death by stipulating that the majority of her will be shared with charities of the area.
Upon her death in 1989, Martin and Casseb Martin and Casseb worked diligently to execute the legacy of Lamar Bruni Vergara through the Trust's continuous support of religious, health and educational initiatives in the community.
When Martin passed away in 2000, his son, J. C. 'Pepito' Martin III, became trustee and joined Casseb in continuing to direct the charitable activities of the Trust.
For additional information on the Lamar Bruni Vergara Memorial Garden at TAMIU, please contact the Office for Institutional Advancement at 326.2175.
University office hours for the Spring Semester are from 8 am. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.