Forest Park garden's future restored

By Justin Boron

Hidden under an elderly Forest Park couple's fig tree last week was proof of life's goodness.

Ola, 80, and Arnold Dooley, 84, came back from the senior center down the street. What they found, they said, was a tiller intended to replace the one that was stolen from them more than two months ago.

After reading a News Daily story about the couple, Jonesboro-resident Joe T. Lane had decided to donate his tiller.

He said he wasn't trying to surprise the Dooleys by concealing it under the tree. Lane just said he didn't want it to be taken this time.

The donation from Lane was one of about 10 offers that led to the Dooleys receiving a brand new Troy-Bilt Tuffy 4.0

"I have a new faith in people," Ms. Dooley said.

The couple lost four of their five children to a red blood cell disease and more recently lost the only daughter not afflicted by the disease. Gardening, they had said, was a form of therapy for them.

Even amid all the grief, they could still smile and walk visitors through their rows of tomatoes, peppers, and peas.

"We grieve for them, but we did not let it consume us," Ms. Dooley said in an earlier story. "You have to accept it."

But in May the theft of their gardening tool could have taken away some of the relief they got from planting each season.

Their friends came to the rescue.

After Lane donated the tiller, state Sen. Terrell Starr, D-Jonesboro, pitched in to buy a new one.

Mr. Dooley said he would be keeping a close watch on the Tuffy, which he says is top of the line.

"We're going to lock this one, lock and chain," Mr. Dooley said.

With a bright red shine still on the tiller, Starr bantered to them to get it up and running.

"That thing is not dirty yet," he said. "You got to get in there and get it dirty. You got to dig up some mud."