A family of educators in Winchester is finding a unique way to pay tribute to their daughter who suddenly passed away earlier this summer.
R.J., a former teacher and coach at North Greene High School, and Janet Paslay a long-time teacher in Winchester, lost their 34-year old daughter Laura back in June after a brief illness. RJ recently met with the Winchester City Council and announced that they had done something different when it came to Laura’s memorial: “When my daughter passed, we asked for donations towards playground equipment for Winchester’s Memorial Park in lieu of flowers. We felt that would be a nice way to honor my daughter’s legacy. She had a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and was teaching at a Pre-School in Knoxville, Tennessee and also coaching at the local YMCA in youth classes of various sorts prior to her passing. She was always partial to little kids and ‘play time,’ so we thought playground equipment would be a nice way to honor her life.”
Paslay says that they received a little over $2,000 from the initial donations, which he says is a good start for some new equipment in the park. Paslay, who is also a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee with the Winchester Civic Group, says that there are some long-term goals for Memorial Park: “We would like to eventually expand the playground equipment beyond what I have in mind for my daughter, and eventually, maybe getting a walking path around the park area. We would like to do some upgrades on the basketball courts. It’s really an ongoing thing actually, but right now, my immediate focus is getting a piece of playground equipment suited towards 2-12 year olds – the elementary and pre-school age where my daughter spent her time teaching, gear it towards that age group. That’s what I have in mind for the immediate future.”
Paslay says the equipment that he would like to install would represent Laura’s favorite pastimes of kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking. Initial estimates on the cost of the equipment are approximately $15,000. After some more investigations by the Winchester City Council and Paslay himself, they expect to come up with some ideas and have an initial proposal possibly put together next month prior to the next city council meeting. Additional donations can be sent to Winchester City Hall at 121 South Hill Street, Winchester, Illinois 62694 to the care of the Laura Paslay playground fund.