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Grove dedicated in memory of SCC instructor Shirley Noble

Dwayne Ball fought back tears as he spoke about Shirley Noble, his wife of 31 years.

Ball read a prepared statement Monday during the dedication of a memorial to Noble, who died Feb. 6 after a battle with cancer. Three Serviceberry trees and a bench are located just south of the picnic shelter on Southeast Community College's Lincoln Campus in memory of the late Medical Laboratory Technology instructor

About 50 people attended the ceremony.

Ball, who was accompanied by daughter Amanda Brady and husband Chad, said he was grateful for the donations that helped make the little grove possible. He also singled out SCC landscape specialist John Spellman, who suggested the Serviceberry trees.

"Shirley's life was all about service to others," Ball said. "In addition, this species has brilliant flowers in spring and brilliant leaves in fall, and Shirley loved flowers and colors. Finally, it has berries that will feed birds, and that would have pleased her, too."

Jeanette Volker, vice president for student services and Lincoln Campus director, said the memorial was fitting for the long-time faculty member.

"It's a great addition to our campus," Volker said. "Shirley may be gone, but she will not be forgotten."

Ball, his daughter and son-in-law sprinkled a handful of dirt from the backyard garden at the house in Lincoln Ball and Noble purchased 25 years ago. "This dirt will eventually be incorporated into the trees," Ball said.

"This dirt was worked many times by Shirley's hands," Ball read. "Some of you probably know enough microbiology to speculate on whether molecules from her hands remain in this dirt. But it is not a physical connection we are making today. It is a spiritual connection between Shirley and this grove. There is also, now, with the planting of these trees, a new spiritual connection between Shirley and this place where she worked for 19 years, and where the work of her hands is in abundant evidence."

Ball went on to say how dedicated his wife was to her students.

"More times than I could ever count, she came home with a story, saying, 'I am worried about this student who is making bad choices and not putting in enough time studying, and may not pass the course,' or rejoicing because some student had done well. At first I thought she was just making conversation, but later I realized this was what occupied her mind every day. It arose from her genuine concern that her students take advantage of the opportunity to do well for themselves, well for others, and well for the program. She genuinely cared for so many people, and we all feel her loss so profoundly."

Ball went on to say that nothing lasts forever. Not people, trees, buildings or monuments.

"Someday all this will be gone, and all of us will be forgotten," he said. "And, if you seek Shirley, you will not find her forever in papers, or monuments, or photographs, or plaques, or any other impermanent thing. But if you look to her many students, you will find her there. If you look to the hundreds of thousands of patients who have been correctly diagnosed because her students were well-trained by her program, you will find her there.

"Any stranger passing on the street could have been the beneficiary of her dedication to making certain that her students were competent and careful. And those patients will have gone on with their lives and loved and nurtured others and created things and contributed in their own ways to human civilization. So it is with anyone who teaches, whether they bear the title of teacher or not. They live as long as human civilization survives, as Shirley will. If you seek her, you will find her today and for a while afterwards, but you will always find her all around you, forever."

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For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing
402-323-3401
sosterthun@southeast.edu