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
"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
"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,