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Rhoda Royce Prayer Garden Dedicated at Mississippi College

The Rhoda Royce Prayer Garden at Mississippi College was dedicated March 27, 2018. First Lady Rhoda Royce joins her husband, MC President Lee Royce for a photo moments after the ceremony near Alumni Hall on the Clinton campus.

The Rhoda Royce Prayer Garden remains a wonderful place for the Mississippi College family and visitors to draw nearer to God.

Filled with bright flowers, and featuring gently rolling fountains, the prayer garden on the Clinton campus was dedicated to MC’s beloved First Lady.

It was difficult for “Miss Rhoda” to hold back tears at ceremonies as MC supporters joined her on March 27. “I can hardly look at you and not cry,” she told the audience. “I was stunned by this honor and still am.”

But longtime admirers of the wife of retiring MC President Lee Royce feel the tribute is truly fitting. After all, Rhoda Royce worked faithfully the past 16 years to tutor young Clinton students, actively promoted the Baptist-affiliated university and stood tall for her Christian faith. She’s a splendid role model and dear friend to many people.

“I love you and respect you and will miss you,” Rhoda Royce told supporters. She encouraged Prayer Garden visitors to “find God’s beauty in this place of peace.”

Ceremonies were marked by three things that Rhoda Royce cherishes: music, beautiful words and flowers.

Selected by President Royce at a site near Provine Chapel, First Baptist Church Clinton and Alumni Hall, the prayer garden was created thanks to the support of an anonymous donor. Speeches and prayers were cut short during an extremely cold dedication ceremony on November 13, 2014.

On Tuesday, the spring weather was perfect and crowds lingered afterwards to congratulate and hug Rhoda Royce.

“The Royces have always been down to Earth people,” said MC sophomore Josh Thomas of McComb. “They never met a stranger.” Rhoda Royce, he said, is “very deserving” of the honor.

Mississippi artist Wyatt Waters believes Rhoda Royce is “the perfect person” to have the prayer garden bear her name. Rhoda and President Royce are solid partners with the Clinton community, the MC graduate noted. “They are a definite team.”

Another artistic luminary from Clinton, Sam Gore says Rhoda Royce is an “inspiration” to him and many others in the university family.

So is President Lee Royce. “He’s my 5th president (at MC) and at the top of my list,” added Gore, the retired MC Art Department chair.

Vice President for Advancement Bill Townsend thanked MC stakeholders and other guests for turning out in big numbers. The special activities on a gorgeous Spring day, he said, reflect a deep love for a “beautiful” First Lady.

A talented musician and instructor, Tanja Miric performed during the event coming amid Holy Week. Easter arrives Sunday. Her music featured “How Firm a Foundation,” a favorite hymn for Rhoda Russell Royce.