Bench dedicated to former MES custodian
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Last December, former Morgan Elementary School custodian Patty Houser unexpectedly died in her sleep. Since that day, the staff and students at MES have been working to find the perfect way to permanently honor her at the school.
Amanda Hochstetler, president of the Morgan PTO, said that, because the students felt so connected to Houser, she wanted them to be as involved as they could in a memorial project. They ultimately settled on partnering with Green Tree Plastics, a company based in Evansville, to create a bench made entirely of plastic bottle caps that the kids collected.
“The kids were in charge of collecting and cleaning the caps, choosing the color scheme and choosing where we would place the bench,” Hochstetler said. “The students really wanted it to be great since it was in Patty’s honor, and I can’t wait for them to be able to see it every day as they come into the school.”
The bench was unveiled Aug. 4 during a brief program that included MES staff and Houser’s family. Students began the 2020-21 school year the following day.
Principal Tammy Zabel said that Houser was just like family to the staff and kids, and this bench was a way of saying that she is terribly missed and will remain in their hearts forever.
“Patty was always kind and always helpful,” Zabel said. “She worked so hard to build relationships with the teachers and every kid she came in contact with. She had the most beautiful blue eyes that just gave peace to your soul. We lost her unexpectedly, and everyone will forever miss her.”
Students voted for the bench to be placed in the main lobby, but, due to COVID-19 placing restrictions on indoor gathering areas, the bench was placed right outside the front doors.
“We thought it would be good to have the bench right outside so that if parents need to pick up their child, they can wait out there and will have a place to sit, since we can’t allow them to wait inside,” Zabel said.
Houser’s husband, Marvin, and her son and daughter-in-law, Casey and Ashley, along with their son, Keaden, attended the unveiling of the bench as well. Tears were shed by many as the family was invited to be the first to sit on the bench. Directly in the center of the bench is a plaque with Houser’s name on it.
“Patty loved to come home and talk about everyone at Morgan,” Marvin said. “You all were her family too, and you have no idea how much this means to us to have her remembered this way.”