Students and officials at Virginia High School have started work on a memorial garden to honor their former superintendent, Rex Gearheart.What better way to honor a great man and avid gardener than with a memorial garden in his name? In May of 2016, the superintendent of Bristol Virginia County schools, Rex Gearheart, passed away. Since he was a beloved father and educator, and one who touched the lives of everyone he met, one school thought to utilize a space at their school to honor the beloved educator. In the last week of May, workers from the Jacobs Creek Job Corps removed an old flower bed, a crumbling brick wall, and some old and encroaching trees to make way for the planned memory garden. In place of the removed features will be shrubbery, as well as low-maintenance flowers and boulders, and two tomato plants to honor Gearheart.
School board member Randy White told the Herald Courier that plans for the memorial garden came hand-in-hand with some much-needed renovations of the space:
There was a brick wall along the front, and it wasn't safe. There was a Magnolia tree, and the roots had taken over, and there was also a cherry tree that needed to come out. So we had to do something with all that [space] and -- at the same time -- we had received some donations to create a memorial for Rex Gearheart."Ideas quickly emerged to put a garden in the space for the memorial, especially considering the fact that Gearheart was an avid gardener. White continued to share that once the plans for the memorial became public, contributions came pouring in for the memorial. Placing a garden in the soon-to-be-empty space seemed like the best way to honor the former superintendent. White began working with the Bristol Virginia School Foundation and locked down volunteer labor from the Job Corps. Soon, the city and city school maintenance people jumped on the project. According to the Executive Director of the Bristol Virginia School Foundation, Vicie Dotson, the Job Corps is providing free excavation as well as the fill-in. Along with that, the city of Bristol Virginia is assisting in the project by delivering 11 large boulders from The Falls and dirt. There are also two Virginia High students working on their Eagle Scout rankings who have offered a hand in planning, designing, and planting. The involvement and contributions from so many in the Bristol community have touched organizers and family members of Rex Gearheart. It just goes to show how well a community can come together to honor the memory of someone who made a great impact on the people around him.
The project is expected to take until the end of the summer, and the garden should be in full bloom come spring of 2018. What do you think of the memorial garden for Rex Gearheart?