Buddy Bench given in memory of Slade Gilley

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Shelby Gilley thanks Cpt. John Shipman for the Buddy Bench in memory of her brother, Slade Gilley. The bench will be placed on the Riverside West Elementary playground where Slade would have been a sixth grade student this year.

It was a day for teachers, students, and family members to remember and honor Slade Gilley. Slade died in a house fire, along with other family members, in December 2014. Slade would have been in the sixth grade at Riverside West Elementary.

Cpl. John Shipman with the Jonesboro Police Department, organizer of Back

The Blue, led an assembly at Riverside West Elementary making a presentation of a Buddy Bench in memory of Slade.

Members of the sixth grade class released balloons in memory of classmate Slade Gilley at the unveiling of the Buddy Bench in memory of Slade.

Cpl. Shipman said the Back The Blue organization helps with projects or needs throughout the area communities.

The Buddy Bench project has turned into a memorial bench project and several have been placed in different schools.

The benches are made from donations from Barton Lumber providing material; Reilly's providing paint, and a local contractor, Toby Bunch, building the benches at no charge.

Cpl. Shipman said they had placed a bench at Westside in memory of student Garrin Fair.

Cpl. Shipman called Riverside Principal LeeAnn Harrell to ask about placing a bench in memory of Slade. She was very pleased to accept the bench.

Riverside West Elementary students, along with teachers, and about 20 family members gathered on the playground on Friday for the dedication service.

Cpl. Shipman reminded the students, "together we are better."

"It is not hard to be kind," Shipman said.

He encouraged the students to remember Slade and be kind to others.

Ms. Harrell shared her memories of Slade.

"He was a funny boy who liked to laugh and have fun," she said.

She shared a questionnaire one of Slade's teachers had found. He had filled it out with his favorite subjects, likes, colors, vacation, books, food, and named his mother as the person he admired most.

His sister, Shelby, a seventh grade student at Riverside, did the honors of unveiling the memory bench. Sixth grade students released balloons as the bench was unveiled.

In the questionnaire Slade's favorite snack was Doritos so all of the students were given a bag of Doritos with a message attached.

"This week is the Great Kindness Challenge. Slade Gilley's favorite snack was Doritos. We would like for each person to do an act of kindness in his honor this week," Ms. Harrell said.

She reminded them when they needed a friend they could go to the Buddy Bench.

Mrs. Harrell thanked Cpl. Shipman and Lake City Officer Daniel Haynes for their service.

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