By William Crow
Harvey County Now
NEWTON–The late Todd Akers is now immortalized in Athletic Park by way of a bench dedicated to his life and work. Family and friends are calling it the “perfect tribute.”
Akers, 57, passed away on Jan. 28 leaving many parks employees he worked alongside wondering how to pay honor to his dedication to the parks system.
The newly added bench was installed in early July and made from a recently chopped down hedge tree, Parks Superintendent Hondo Collins said.
“It’s a hard tree that doesn’t decay,” Collins said. “It was durability like Todd.”
The bench sets in front of the playground area in Athletic Park, a sentimental location for his tribute, as Akers spent many of his years inspecting the playground, according to Collins.
The biggest thanks to the park’s employees were given by Akers’ wife, Patrice Murphy-Akers. All of them are like family during the hard time and the community support has been helpful, she said.
Patrice and her two daughters, Ashley and Megan, were present for the installation of the bench. When they saw all the work that went into remembering their family member’s memory, emotions were too strong to hold back.
“The tears I felt gathering at the corner of my eye caught me off guard as I watched my dad’s longtime co-workers and friends install the bench,” Ashley said.
Ashley and Megan spent a lot of time on Fischer Field, where the bench sets across, playing sports.
“The Fischer Field and Athletic Park hold special places in my heart, so this memorial bench’s location is perfect,” Ashley said
Todd and Patrice’s son Ian unfortunately was not able to attend the installation.
The plaque was provided by Enduring Love Memorials and the bench itself was constructed together by all parks employees, according to Collins.
“It has a little bit of all of us in there,” he said.