MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Some say spirits are all around us. The souls of people who have since gone to the other side make their presence felt in many ways. In Blount County, one dearly departed woman’s ghost is a shining spotlight on an unbelievable legacy connected to the Maryville College campus.

Just outside of the Maryville College woods lie sacred grounds. The Maryville College cemetery holds the story of a woman who secretly did so much good for the campus for many years and many never knew of the work of Susan Wiley Walker.

“You know, Ms. Walker came in the 30s, 1932, to Maryville. Her sister was married to the chancellor at Maryville College, and so she built a home here because she just loved it so much. She immediately inserted herself into the community,” President of the RT Lodge Beth McCabe Holman said.

That home is now a boutique hotel, RT Lodge. A widow with quite a bit of wealth, Walker was a quiet philanthropist silently upgrading building interiors, adding features like steps to a boys’ dormitory. When she saw a need to improve the lives of people in the community, she did so.

Playwright Mary Donnet Johnson was so intrigued with Walker’s story while staying at RT Lodge, she was inspired to bring her story to life in a play called “To Know You,” which was featured in Maryville College’s bicentennial celebration in 2019.

“And I went back to the lodge, and I saw this picture on the wall of this ancient lady, and I said who is that elderly lady? And they said, ‘Oh, that’s Susan Wiley Walker. She built this house as her own home,'” Johnson said.

The play showcases Walker’s ghost to tell her story. One of her acts of love — gifting a Steinway piano to a family living during the Depression with a child who loved music.

“So, at the time, there was still a woman living who was in her late 90s, who had been a child at the time when Ms. Walker came to Maryville College, and that’s the woman who got the piano. And the piano is still in her family,” Johnson said.

Johnson believes Walker’s benevolent presence still roams the Maryville College campus.

“Because I believe spirits are all around us all the time. And I recently lost my mom and I just I feel her so strongly every day and I wanted to make that point that our impact is never lost. As long as people are thinking about us and enjoying the things that we left and the legacy and maybe carrying it on.”

For those who work and stay at RT Lodge, Walker’s spirit is one that is sweet.

“She is. Her legacy is really undeniable. I know she’s here with us in a very wonderful presence,” said Holman.

The play, “To Know You,” is based on stories from those who knew Walker and from her self-published book about her life, called “When I Look Back and Think.”

It is still unknown just how much Walker donated to Maryville College over her 18 years at Morningside estate, which is now RT Lodge.