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Our Inspiration for the Lake Name at BridgeWater

Hazel • Jane • Peggy • Ruth • Serena

To us they are more than just names of the five signature lakes that set the backdrop to life here at BridgeWater. They represent the spirit of the many women who lived and played a part in history of this special place called Lakeland.

Lake Hazel
Lake Hazel is named after one of America’s longest serving English teachers, Hazel Haley. Hazel retired after teaching 69 consecutive years, 67 of which were at Lakeland High School. In 2007, she was honored at the grand opening ceremony at BridgeWater and spoke at the dedication of the lake that bears her name. She was honored to be chosen in the naming of the lakes. When presented with a gift at the ceremony, Hazel had one question “Is my lake the largest in the community?” 
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Hazel Haley’s last day of teaching May 16, 2006. She died in 2008

Lake Jane
Lake Jane was named after Jane Morrell. In 1914, Jane donated land to the city of Lakeland to build a hospital. She laid the foundation for charitable giving to health care in Lakeland and the Morrell Society of the Lakeland Regional Medical Center was created in honor to carry out her vision. Today, the Medical Center recognizes donors of $10,000 or more with a membership in the Morrell Society by placing a plaque on the donor wall next to Entrance A at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. 

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Morrell Memorial Hospital (1916), now known as Lakeland Regional Medical Center 

Lake Peggy
Lake Peggy was named after Peggy Brown, called the Cookie Madam, who was a 21-year veteran of the Lakeland City Commission and two-time mayor. She served from 1974 until 1995 making her Lakeland’s longest serving city commissioner. She was also very active outside the City Hall. Peggy owned a cookie shop, Cookie Madam, for 6 years and wrote garden columns in the Lakeland Ledger for five decades. Her passion for gardening also made her a force in the beautification for the city. Peggy Brown died May 11, 2003 at the age of 87. 

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The Peggy Brown Center, dedicated to the late mayor on December 17, 2004, located in Barnett Family Park

Lake Ruth
Lake Ruth is named after “Miss America of Air” Ruth Elder. In 1927 she was noted as the first women to fly transatlantic. She came within 300 miles of Europe before he plane developed an oil leak and she had to land in the Atlantic Ocean. She was rescued by a Dutch tanker ship that took her to Europe where she received much fanfare. When she returned to New York she received the ultimate hero’s welcome, a tickertape parade through the streets of New York City.
Ruth Elder died in 1977.

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Ruth Elder, ready to fly, presumably October 1927 

Lake Serena
Lake Serena is named after Serena Bailey Ross, Lakeland’s longest serving librarian in the city’s history (1929-1959). She attended library school at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. After becoming a librarian for the City Public Library, Lakeland became one of only two libraries in Florida to be a vernment document depository. She also extended library service by acquiring a bookmobile to reach people who lived in remote parts of the city.
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Serena Bailey Ross