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South campus garden celebrates memory of Sheri Hays

May 05, 2010

  • Sheri Jean Hays during a visit to Hawaii in 2008.

In February 2010, several members of the graduate school staff held a craft and bake sale to raise money for a garden to honor the memory of former staff member Sheri Hays.

Sheri Jean Hays passed away in February 2009 from breast cancer at the age of 48. Survivors include her husband, Ron, and sons Robert Hays B.A. ’07 and Richard Hays B.A. ’09. Hays joined the Lewis & Clark staff in 1999 and worked in the teacher education program.

With guidance and landscape help from Grounds Supervisor Gabe Bishop, the garden officially opened on April 23, 2010. The garden is located on the back side of the Corbett House, adjacent to the sidewalk that leads to Rogers Hall.

Below are the opening remarks read at the ceremony by Wanita McPherson, administrative specialist for teacher education, and the garden blessing read by Sister Loretta Schaff, adjunct catholic chaplain. Also included are the sentiments of Annette Skaugset, administrative coordinator for educational leadership and Sheri’s close friend and colleague.

Opening remarks, by Wanita McPherson

I’d like to welcome you all today to the dedication of Sheri’s garden. It was with enthusiasm and determination that the graduate school staff decided to find a way to honor Sheri and her love for LC and all her friends here. A plan was developed, a successful fundraiser followed and here we are today—admiring this beautiful garden, one we know Sheri would love!

I’d like to thank everyone who participated and especially Gabe and Jerry from the grounds crew, who created the design and planted the wonderful plants that make up the garden. This will be a peaceful and beautiful place for Sheri’s family, faculty, staff, and students to visit to contemplate life, and how precious it is, and to remember Sheri. Sheri loved this part of campus and we know she is smiling down on all of us as we celebrate her life and all she meant to each and every one of us.

I’d like to welcome all of Sheri’s family in attendance today and introduce her immediate family: Ron Hays (husband), Bob Hays (father), Karen Hays (mother - unable to attend – recovering from a bone marrow transplant), Kris Davenport and Sue Asla (sisters) and   Robert and Richard Hays (sons).

I’d also like to introduce Scott Fletcher, the Dean of the Graduate School. Scott is a great leader and has been of great support and encouragement as we have undertaken the garden project.

And finally, I’d like to introduce Sister Loretta Schaff, one of our wonderful chaplain’s on the campus. She has an extraordinary connection to this campus and to the Graduate School, and not only knew Sheri but also stopped in to see how she was which was very comforting to Sheri and to us.

Sister Loretta will share a blessing with us and you are all then invited to take a handful of rose petals from the basket on the bench and sprinkle them in Sheri’s memory. We would then like you to join us for refreshments and conversation on the Corbett House Patio as we honor and celebrate Sheri’s life. Thanks for coming.

Garden blessing, by Sr. Loretta Schaff

As we gather in the beauty of this day, we are reminded of the beauty of Sheri’s life that graced each of us in special ways.

Let us pause in the silence of our hearts and remember those special ways with gratitude for the gift that she was in each of our lives.

As we dedicate this special garden in Sheri’s honor, may it become a place of sanctuary where hearts and bodies can pause and rest and become refreshed and renewed in the midst of busy days.

May this garden, beautifully created in Sheri’s memory, be a reminder of her gentle yet strong dedication and faithful presence to all that was asked of her, especially here at Lewis & Clark College.

May our memories of Sheri inspire us and bless us as we rededicate our own lives to live like Sheri, a life full of deep faith in God, a life full of love and generosity for family and friends and for colleagues.

Finally, may Sheri’s garden symbolize a bridge between our memory of her and our own soul’s hope for the most promising possibilities of goodness that is yet to be fulfilled.

You are invited at this time to come to the garden and honor the dedicated space in Sheri’s honor by blessing it with the beauty of rose petals.

Remembrance of a friend, by Annette Skaugset

I don’t believe I have ever known anyone as easy to get along with as Sheri. For about five years, we had lunch together several times a week. It didn’t matter where we went and we didn’t need a plan. Some days we would just start driving and turn around in half an hour, picking up food along the way. Some days were celebratory, like my birthday celebration at Salvador Molly’s. Others were spent running errands like a quick drive through McDonald’s on the way to Tigard High School. (She loved McDonald’s cheeseburgers.) There were very few restaurants we didn’t hit within a 30 minute drive of Lewis & Clark. When the chemo finally took her appetite, our lunch breaks were for the company and the food came home in a doggie bag. Our friendship was a gift and we enjoyed it.