Thursday, April 3, 2014
Few have had a greater impact on the North Augusta community – and its schools – than Franklin Hyers.
The former principal at North Augusta Middle School passed away unexpectedly in January, and his family never truly realized the impact he had or got a sense of closure.
On March 27, they got just that and more.
The school where Hyers was principal from 1972 to 1996 held a program and tree-planting ceremony in his honor.
Family, friends and former co-workers shared stories and memories of Hyers.
Many touched on how he was always sharply dressed, others pointed out his hatred of blue jeans, some talked about his love for the flowers that grew around the school.
No matter the case, though, all spoke highly of a man who totaled 43 years in education and mentored many to pursue jobs in school administration.
Hyers' three children, Tim, Tom and Lisa, all showed up to the emotional event.
“It means a lot to us because we didn't live here and interact with him on a daily basis,” Tom said. “It means a lot to come here and see so many people who showed up for this. Considering that he was retired for 18 years, it is really amazing that this many people who knew him and worked with him would still want to come to this event. We had a pretty good drive up here, and I kept wondering how I would feel coming back here.”
Tom said he only attended North Augusta Middle School for a few months before his mother and father divorced.
“My mom moved us to Augusta, and we attended school there,” he said. “Then we moved back down to Waycross, which is where we were originally from. ... One day she picked us up from school here and said, 'I left your daddy.' That was the first time until now that I had been to this school. It happened right over there in front of the principal's office. I was thinking about how I would deal with that, at a place that had such a bad memory for me.”
Tom said he and his siblings were able to reconnect with their father in later years, and they were all proud of him.
“I've always looked up to him and always thought he was a great man,” he said. “I can now say I've been back to a place I said I would never come back to. I'm glad I came, though.”
Tim said he remembered a visit in 2010-11 that stuck with him.
“That was great for us because we got to see him,” he said. “The best times we had with Franklin was at Berry College when we were little kids. He did what he loved to do in the educational field. At times he believed in strict discipline, but he was always fair. He was able to touch a lot of lives and bless a lot of people. I'm very happy we had this today, because there wasn't a regular memorial service.”
Lisa Hyers Jones said her late father loved North Augusta Middle School.
“This was his favorite place,” she said. “He didn't want to retire when he did because he loved it so much. It means a lot that everyone came out to honor him. I'm very appreciative of it. ... It makes my heart feel good. I recognize a lot of the people, because when I was a little girl I would come to school with him, and some of the secretaries and teachers are here. He loved all of his teachers, and it's nice to know they cared so much about him.”
The inscribed dedication plaque that will hang on the tree summed up the day best: “In dedication of Franklin Hyers, to teach is to touch a life forever.”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star.