The latest addition to the school campus exudes peace, and like its namesake, inspires healing. Dedicated on Oct. 26, the Dr. Hugh C. McLeod, III, M.D. Memorial Garden celebrates the commitment, dedication and passion of a man who served Walton for nearly 30 years.
McLeod served as the team physician for the Raider football team from 1982 until his death in 2011. He was also responsible for establishing the first high school sports medicine program, which has since been named in his honor: The Hugh C. McLeod Sports Medicine Center at Walton High School.
Leslie McLeod, Hugh’s wife of 31 years, and their daughter Lauren, a 2004 Walton graduate, conceived the garden as a way to allow Hugh’s gift to Walton to continue.
“It’s the peace and beauty that I would have wanted to remember my husband and keep his legacy of what he did in this school for 29 years alive,” said Leslie McLeod. “I would have much preferred that he still be with me, but the garden is absolutely spectacular.”
McLeod, who lives near by, said she will enjoy visiting the garden. She always supported and shared her husband’s passion for Walton and is pleased that he will forever be linked to the school.
Walton principal Judy McNeill spoke of Dr. McLeod during the dedication ceremony, crediting him for putting athletes on the field in a better position to compete.
“(McLeod) helped establish a program of wellness so to cut down on the injuries and to have our athletes prepared to compete,” said McNeill. “We are please to remember all that he did for Walton.”
More than 200 people attended the dedication, which shows how many people were touched by McLeod’s service to the school. Among those in attendance were special speakers U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Representative Tom Price, and Mark Elgart, Ph.D., president and CEO of AdvancEd.
Isakson, whose children attended Walton, recalled a time when McLeod made a difference in the life of his son, Kevin, during the aftermath of a 1989 car accident. Hospitalized for six weeks, operated on four times and recovering with assistance at home for six months, Kevin was inspired by McLeod. Isakson credits Walton’s sports medicine program, started by McLeod, for having Kevin back on the football field 11 months later to start at defensive end for the Raiders.
“He had the inspiration and expectation and the assistance of Dr. Hugh McLeod and it changed my son Kevin’s life and I am only one of many parents, who can talk about the same story and give the same tribute to Dr. Hugh McLeod,” said Isakson.