$1m gift to UGA will help create children

When Alice Richards' family decided to give $1 million to the State Botanical Garden at the University of Georgia to create a children's garden, they didn't know they were helping fulfill a dream she had harbored for almost two decades.

Richards, who lived in Carrollton, was a charter member of the Botanical Garden's Board of Advisors and one of the garden's most devoted and beloved supporters until her death in May 2007. The mother of seven and grandmother of 24, Richards loved flowers and the outdoors and had a tender spot for children, said her son Lee Richards of St. Simons Island.

So when Lee and his siblings began discussing distribution of their mother's estate, agreement to make a gift to the Botanical Garden to create a special garden for children "took about five seconds," he said. "Mom loved her children and everybody else's children, and we knew how much she loved the Botanical Garden. We could think of no better place to leave a lasting memorial."

What the children didn't know when they made their decision was that almost 20 years earlier Richards had written on her biographical sheet for the Board of Advisors, "I'm particularly interested in the children's garden."

"We didn't learn about that until after we made the donation," said Lee Richards. "It's an amazing coincidence."

Alice Richards was the widow of Roy Richards, founder and CEO of Southwire, the largest maker of cable in North America and one of Georgia's largest corporations. Roy was a Georgia Tech graduate and neither Alice nor any of their children had any connection to the University of Georgia until Alice was asked to become a charter member of the Botanical Garden Board of Advisors through friends who were knowledgeable about the garden.