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Elon dedicates bench to late Physical Plant worker

An avid baseball fan, Neal Byrd will be remembered with a bench behind the third-base line at Elon's Latham Park.

A new bench at Elon's baseball field honors late Physical Plant worker Neal Byrd.

Friends, family members and former co-workers gathered at Elon's Walter C. Latham Park on Oct. 11 to dedicate a bench in memory of Neal Byrd, an avid baseball fan and well-liked member of the Elon community.

Byrd died on Sept. 1, 2011 after a lengthy illness. A carpenter in the university's Physical Plant, he worked through his illness, often setting up stages for Convocation and Commencement ceremonies, installing shelving in offices throughout campus and adjusting or installing various fixtures as needed.

"We cannot know why he was gone so soon, in the prime of his life," university Chaplain Jan Fuller said at the dedication ceremony. "We dedicate a bench in Neal's honor and memory, and as a way of keeping his presence close to us at Elon."

Friends describe Byrd as an avid baseball fan. The bench dedicated to his memory is along the third-base line at Elon's Walter C. Latham Park.

The bench is nestled under a grove of trees behind the third-base line at the university's baseball stadium, a familiar place for Byrd.

"I was never honored to know Neal," Fuller said, "but from what I have heard about him from friends and co-workers, and since he loved baseball, I know I would have really liked him. We shared, without knowing it, a love of watching our sons play baseball."

Byrd's son, Zachary, was the first person to sit on the new bench.

Philip Jones,
10/15/2013 4:40 PM