Supervisor Calls for Memorial at New High School

During an emotional moment at last night’s Clarke County School Board meeting, Supervisor Barbara Byrd (Russell) called on School Board members to consider creating a memorial site somewhere on the grounds of Clarke County’s new high school where community members can honor deceased loved ones, particularly young people.

With the new facility on track for a scheduled March, 2012 completion, Byrd’s suggestion for adding a memorial site, possibly a garden, was inspired by one of her constituents who is grieving over the loss of an only son.

“Mrs. Betty Robinson Nelson lost her only son several years ago,” Byrd told the School Board. “In his memory, Mrs. Nelson would like to place a brick in his honor on the grounds of the new high school.”

Byrd said that although she realized that the plans for the high school site were already finished, Mrs. Nelson’s brick could be the start of a memorial garden for the remembrance of individuals by friends and families supporting the school system.

“Mrs. Nelson’s son, Keith Eric Douglas, was the father of a daughter who was a champion basketball and soccer player who graduated from CCHS in 2006,” Byrd said. “Mrs. Nelson told me ‘Keith was a strong supporter of the construction of a first class high school for the youth of Clarke County. The placement of just one small stone or brick would be a modest, but meaningful, tribute to his efforts and his contribution. This brick would be a tangible symbol of his support and contribution to this community resource that is now finally close to completion. It would also provide some degree of closure for a mother who is still grieving over the loss of an only son.'”

Byrd asked if a location could be found somewhere on the site where citizens could memorialize loved ones, possibly through placement of an inscribed brick or stone, saying that she felt that such a tribute area would be filled very quickly.

“I think that it’s a wonderful idea,” replied School Board Chairman Barbara Lee (Millwood).

Byrd’s suggestion appeared to be enthusiastically received by other School Board members as well, but especially by Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy. Murphy, who lost a teenaged son in an automobile accident, was visibly moved by the memorial suggestion.

“Mrs. Byrd, thank you,“ said Murphy. “I do know from firsthand experience just how important it is never to forget. And also as a parent, who has lost a child, to know that others have never forgotten.”

Murphy said that he has had many conversations with Clarke County families who have lost a child.

“I even have a list of those students in the Clarke County Public School students who have died before their time,” Murphy said holding back tears. “I would be honored if the Board would consider letting staff investigate how we might not only honor this mother’s request, but those other mothers and fathers requests as well.”

“It would be a beautiful addition to our school,” said Barbara Lee. ”We will pursue it.”


  1. Fly on the wall says:

    This is a glimpse of the positive that can be done – coming together from all across the divide and uniting behind something decent and good.

  2. Catherine Burzio says:

    Thank you Mrs. Byrd and Dr. Murphy. I am in full support of such a project and look forward to offering assistance if needed. (March 2012 will mark the 5th anniversary of Pauline’s death and she would have been in the first graduating class from the new high school, 2013.)

  3. Sharon Strickland says:

    I join with others that thank Barbara Byrd and Dr. Murphy for jointly thinking this proposal would be a blessing for many. Memory bricks are very popular with many organizations including my father’s VFW in Hillsville, VA. The walkway of remembered names leads up to the service memorial saluting all services and the walkway is honored and respected.

    I will offer my services in getting this initiative moving.

    • It is a wonderful idea. However, you may want to consider having the bricks installed in a low wall, perhaps in a semi circle with walkway between wall and flower garden, with bench as part of garden. Just another thought..

  4. Right Winger says:

    Perhaps the Supervisor would make a donation to fund that memorial so that school funds wouldn’t be used for it?

    • Fly on the wall says:

      Perhaps she could paint a picture of a horse and auction it off, like she did to benefit the animal shelter.