The Gift of Memory
Deanna Forbush (‘87) honors her daughter’s life by creating a memorial garden on Westminster’s campus
by Lexie Banks (’12, MACL ’15)
Brenda E. Boffa was a loving mother and wife, horticultural enthusiast, painter, and landscape designer. After she passed away in June 2016, her mother, Deanna Forbush (’87), sought a place where Brenda’s memory could live on through a beautifully landscaped garden.
Brenda studied behavioral psychology and practiced as a behavioral therapist. Her true passion, however, was landscape design and horticulture.
“The Forbushes have homesteaded in Cottonwood Heights since 1850,” Deanna says. “We were famous onion farmers. Our agrarian roots are felt in our bones: it’s in our DNA.”
Deanna says pursuing her education at Westminster genuinely changed her life. After briefly attending Cottonwood High School, Deanna participated in Westminster’s paralegal program. At the urging of her boss, she then finished her GED and pursued a degree in English at Westminster. She later attended and graduated from the University of Utah Law School.
“I was a single mother and would take Brenda to class with me,” Deanna says. “Westminster has played a big role in our lives. I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without it, and neither would my daughter.”
Deanna said the pair searched for a location for the memorial garden while Brenda was ill. After meeting with President Steve Morgan for lunch and exploring the campus grounds, they knew they had found the place where Brenda could be remembered— just north of the Giovale Library entrance.
The memorial garden will primarily be a working garden featuring annual plans that students will replant year after year— a decision that Deanna says was intentional. In this process, students will get to learn more about Brenda’s beloved pastime of horticulture. “We wanted to involve the students, so we developed a working garden that will be planted every year and serve as a learning opportunity for students,” she says.
In the design process, the memorial garden for Brenda evolved into a place where all people could honor individuals of their choice: others will have the opportunity to include paver stones in memory of their loved ones. Deanna says that while Brenda’s memory is the pinnacle of the garden, she wants it to be seen as a welcoming space. “It is a place where people can go and reflect,” she says.
The Forbushes commissioned artist Dennis Smith (pictured above) from Alpine, Utah, to create the statue of Brenda reading to her children, Devan and Breanna (whose name is a tribute to both Brenda and Deanna). “It was important that Brenda be represented with her children at the ages they were when she passed away,” Deanna says. “It was also important she be reading to them, both in terms of the garden being outside of the Giovale Library and in terms of Westminster being the place where we learned together. Dennis really breathed life into the sculpture.”
The garden is expected to be dedicated in June 2018 and will be a beautiful and meaningful addition to our campus.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.