When Hattie Belle Pugh passed away last January at the age of 99, her family knew how they wanted to honor her.
Pugh had been the school secretary at Oak Forest Elementary from 1958 to 1978 and had also been an active volunteer at the school, including serving as PTA President, for many years.
“She absolutely loved that work,” said her son Billie Pugh.
After a conversation with the school, the idea of a bench donation for the school’s arboretum took shape and in Pugh’s obituary, donations were encouraged for the purpose. Through the generosity of friends and loved ones, the bench became a reality.
Bergen Designs in Colorado created a red rock bench that memorialized her, even including a carved owl because Pugh collected them. Present at the installation were her son Billie Ray Pugh, Jr., MD with his wife Paula of Fort Worth, childhood friend Don Haley, as well as Oak Forest Elementary Principal Andrew Casler and Vice Principal Rachel Folse.
On hand, too, was Oak Forest parent Leah Salinas who had the good fortune of moving next to Pugh a few years ago and getting to know her.
“I’m glad I got to be there and glad I remembered tissues,” said Salinas. “We even convinced her son, Billie to sing the Oak Forest school song written by Hattie Belle and sang by kids for years. I miss her. Every day. I’m glad to have a special spot to remind us of her.”