Master Naturalists honor late Dick Roesler with memorial bench

HARLINGEN — A new rest area in Hugh Ramsey Nature Park honors one of the park’s biggest advocates and hardest workers.

Texas Master Naturalist Frank Wiseman donated the memorial bench dedicated to Richard “Dick” Roesler, which was installed yesterday in one of the nature park’s garden areas.

“He was a real good friend,” Wiseman said at the site yesterday morning. “He and his wife, Sharon, both volunteered. I wanted to do something in his memory because he was with us every Thursday, sometimes on Tuesday.

“We went all over the Valley rescuing plants and then we’d come back and plant them in here in all the different spots that we had on the south side,” Wiseman added. “It was just to have a memento, a memory, to know that we appreciated everything he did.”

Wiseman, one of the founding members of the Rio Grande Valley Texas Master Naturalist chapter, worked with Roesler and his wife to re-vegetate the city park with native Texas plants.

Roesler, who died in 2015, was recalled by Master Naturalist Christina Mild as the “digging-est dog,” who used a posthole digger to prepare spots to transplant as many as 60 native species in the morning, and another 60 in the afternoon to optimal places in the park.

During Roesler’s membership in the naturalists’ chapter, he logged 1,655 volunteer hours, and most of those hours were spent at Ramsey park.

“It took more than eight years to achieve our goal of establishing the park as a true nature preserve with only Valley native plants,” Wiseman said.

The garden with Roesler’s memorial bench is called the Citrus Garden, and was designed by Wiseman and volunteers.

The garden showcases five native trees in the Rutaceae family that volunteers planted earlier this year — barreta, colima, Texas torchwood, Sierra Madre torchwood and Runyon’s esenbeckia, all within the citrus family. The newly-planted trees are home to the larval stage of giant swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.