A little bit of sunshine has been missing at since the death of beloved history teacher Tom Milnes in August. But amidst the clouds and rain on Monday morning some of that light was brought back to the campus.
The entire student body and faculty gathered in the school’s quad, despite the wet weather, to honor the popular and charismatic Milnes, who taught at the school for 20 years, with a bench dedicated in his memory.
“Many of you don’t know, but he often sat right out here and ate his lunch and enjoyed the sun so we thought this would be a fitting place for his bench,” Principal Mary Lonhart told those in attendance. “And he would be cracking up at the rain coming down on us right now.”
Lonhart, who said she cried when she saw the bench, said that Milnes was an integral part of the school and that this year has been hard on the faculty and students not seeing him in his classroom and around campus.
“We were really honored to be able to teach with Mr. Milnes and to be able to share so many wonderful memories with him,” Lonhart said. “I think [the bench] will do a lot for the us. It will be a wonderful reminder of a man that deserves to be honored.”
Getting the bench made and installed at the school was a community effort that was started by teachers John Magliato and Jeff Matlock, Lonhart said. From there, one parent heard about the project and started spreading the word through the community to enlist help, including that of Brian Bothman, vice-president of business development at Robert A. Bothman Construction, who was an integral part in helping to get the project completed.
“He heard about it and he stepped in and went beyond the call of duty to get this bench for us,” Lonhart said of Bothman.
After a few brief words about Milnes impact on the SVMS community, students, teachers, faculty members and friends and family of Milnes’, including his wife Jeanne and son Evan, laid roses on the new bench in his memory.
“It’s so beautiful and breathtaking,” Jeanne Milnes said of the bench. “I keep thinking about all of the cards and letters and support that Tom received when he was sick. To me, this bench will always represent that love that sustained us this whole year.”
She added that her husband truly loved the Scotts Valley community and being a part of the school for so long, and that seeing the bench would have made him happy.
The words engraved on a plaque on the bench read, “We are forever linked,” which Lonhart said is something Milnes used to always say to his friends and colleagues.
“And it’s true,” Lonhart said “He will forever be in our hearts and now forever in our quad.”