Local News

November 25, 2013

‘Never forget the things individuals have done’

Murray County High School recognizes long-time residents; those gone


Mary Ruth Stevenson, 1954 graduate

When Mary Ruth Stevenson heard she would be a 2013 inductee, she said she “wasn’t surprised.”

“I was shocked,” she said. “It took awhile for it to sink in.”

Stevenson has been busy being “that part of your life” that unexpectedly affects you, said Toby Westmoreland, who spoke about Stevenson.

Westmoreland said Stevenson, a 1954 Murray County High graduate, has been part of the school system and community for a long time, teaching piano and helping with cheerleading, Beta Club, French Club and Glee Club, among other activities.

“As a young child, there were two things that I desired,” Westmoreland recalled. “One was to be a teacher and (God) has given me that. The second thing was to play piano. She (Stevenson) was part of my answer to that prayer. ... I want to tell Mary Ruth just how much I love her.”

Stevenson said being involved in the community has given her “very good friends, lifetime attachments.”

“In thinking in what I was asked to do (with my life), I thought about a song I love to play called ‘My Tribute (To God Be the Glory),’” she said, crying. “And there’s a line that goes, ‘just let me live my life and let it be pleasing, Lord, to thee. And should I gain any praise, let it go to Calvary.’ And that’s my testament and I think you all for recognizing my efforts.”

Erik Gallman, 1998 graduate

A sasquatch named Ted, a creepy mannequin and a fake severed hand were among his possessions.

A love of God, painting, carpentry, history and community were among his passions.

Erik Gallman’s “warped” and “morbid” sense of humor, mixed with his “hard work ethic” made him a “witty, smart and amazing friend” and a “good-natured prankster,” said Misty Watson-Wheeler, a friend of Gallman’s who knew him since the two were children.

Gallman, 33, unexpectedly passed away on Friday, Feb. 13, 2013, and was inducted posthumously as a Murray County High graduate of 1998.

He made a lasting impression on Murray and Whitfield counties, Watson-Wheeler said, working at Bagley Middle School, the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society and opening Fiddleheads Garden Center with Sam Brown on Walnut Avenue in 2011.

“"No matter where I go in Whitfield or Murray counties I’m reminded of Erik Gallman’s lasting impact on our community,” Watson-Wheeler said of his many accomplishments in his life. “Many people live a long life and do not accomplish as much or make as big of an impact in the world as he did in his short life.

Augustine, Gallman’s mother, said she was “very proud of Erik.”

“This is hard for me, being his mother and him gone,” she said, crying. “Erik always had a pretty smile everywhere he went. He was a wonderful son. All his life, he never gave us any trouble.

“He was a loving, compassionate person. He never said anything bad about anyone. Nothing ever made him mad. Maybe frustrated, but never mad. He was just a kind person.”

Watson-Wheeler said Gallman didn’t relish the spotlight.

“He didn’t ever want praise or honor for anything,” Augustine said, agreeing. “He just did it out of the goodness of his own heart. He loved God. He loved people. Old people, young people. I’m proud to call him my son and I’m proud of this honor you’ve bestowed upon him.”

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