As he prepared to become an Eagle Scout, Bargersville resident William Torrance dedicated his time and vision to the town’s Windisch Park.
He carved out a half-acre of flower beds and built pergolas along its walking trail. With care he mulched, weeded and watered plants to make the park look its best.
Torrance died in 2012, but his spirit and dedication lives on in the park he cared so much about.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 227 — Torrance’s old troop — have carried on the project in memory of their former member. The troop has adopted caring for the park as one of its permanent work responsibilities.
By maintaining the park, his friends and former troop members can pay tribute to him.
“(Torrance) was one of my biggest mentors, as far as scouting goes. He was a brother, a friend,” troop member Ryan Long said. “We thought this would be a great way to help keep his memory alive.”
Windisch Park is a 3½-acre block of land tucked into the neighborhoods of downtown Bargersville.
The park offers a walking trail, a picnic area nestled into a stand of pine trees, benches and flower gardens.
Families come to walk their dogs, eat lunch outdoors and play in the wide-open grass field.
But the park hasn’t always been so user-friendly.
When Torrance decided to tackle it as his Eagle Scout project, weeds were growing in flower beds, and the overall look of the park was run down.
He chose the back section of the park to install a massive garden, as well as create wooden arbor-like structures for vines and plants to grow.
Torrance raised more than $2,200 for the materials, flowers and mulch, and he spent weeks in 100-degree heat over the summer to finish it. More than 650 plants went into the gardens.
After earning his Eagle Scout distinction, Torrance graduated from Center Grove High School in 2011 and went to Vincennes University with plans to be a welder. He died after suffering a heart attack brought on by alcohol intoxication, according to police reports.
After his death, friends and troop members decided to carry on work in the park in his memory.
“He was such a great mentor to these guys. His death last year really hit them hard. It hit all of us hard, but especially some of the younger guys,” Scoutmaster Mark Riley said.
Riley often gave Torrance a ride to and from troop meetings. They would talk about future projects, sports and school during those short trips from Bargersville to the troop’s meetings at St. Rose of Lima Church in Franklin.
A shy kid, Torrance was slow to open up at first. But once he got going and trusted people, he opened up as a bright and friendly guy, Riley said.
“He really did live the Scout oath and Scout law and was a great example for the other kids, too,” he said.
For others in the troop, Torrance was a dedicated Boy Scout, a helpful friend and a role model. Younger Scouts could ask him questions without fear of rebuke or irritation.
He never treated anyone as if their thoughts didn’t matter, Ryan said.
“(Torrance) was always open to other ideas, and he listened to what you said,” the 15-year-old Franklin resident said. “He was very open to other people.”
Caleb Brown, a 14-year-old member of the troop from Bargersville, remembers Torrance as a positive influence always willing to stop and help the younger Scouts.
They worked together on a camping project, which was one of the first times Caleb really spoke with the older Scout.
“He was a nice guy, and everybody kind of looked up to him,” he said.
Working in the park will help Troop 227 earn workshop hours and credit in order to go to summer camp at Ransburg Scout Reservation south of Bloomington, where Torrance had been a camp counselor.
Troop leaders plan to make it an annual job to spend a Saturday weeding, laying down mulch and reviving the park. On May 4, a group of 15 troop members, past Eagle Scouts and adult troop leaders spent the day working throughout Windisch Park.
“It’s a way to not only to keep his memory alive but to give back to the community of Bargersville,” Riley said.