Here at Off the Grid we are sad to report that we have lost a good friend. Bert Waggott, a long-time Greenwich Village resident, graphic designer and professor of graphic design at Pratt Institute, passed away on Monday. Bert accepted our Village Award in June of 2013 for his work in the Winston Churchill Square garden.
At that Village Awards ceremony, Bert was described this way:
“Never happier than when his hands are in soil, Bert takes care of the Square as a volunteer with Partnerships for Parks, a group that has given generously to the Square— even providing a grant for a new planting shed. While Bert has devoted countless hours to the park, his biggest contribution just may be his creation of a formal up-cycling program within the Parks Department. Bert, learning that plants and hardscape material would be thrown out during the renovation of Washington Square Park, negotiated with the local district manager at the Parks Department to recycle the materials for use in Churchill Square. Now, plants and stones have a new life. Due to Bert’s ingenuity, smaller community parks without big budgets can access materials being removed from their larger counterparts, a program heralded by the Parks Department. “
You could often see Bert pushing his wheelbarrow along Bleecker Street on his way to the garden. He and his partner, Rosemary, were frequent attendees at our public programs. I could always ask Bert a question like, “What’s that plant that’s about this high, with the leaves that look like this, and the flowers that look like this?” and he would know the answer. I will miss my horticulture expert, for sure. And from what his friends tell me, Bert was an avid Scrabble player, too!
But Bert leaves us with the beautiful legacy of the vast improvements to the green public space that he loved so much. Winston Churchill Square is a quiet and peaceful spot that makes you forget you’re surrounded by traffic noise and lulls you into thinking you are in a country woodland.
Thank you Bert, for sharing your little park with us.