Four Seahawks Honored at Annual Fisher Memorial Garden Ceremony

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The lives of four UNCW staff members who passed away were recognized at the annual brick dedication ceremony on April 22 at the Fisher Memorial Garden on the UNCW campus.

-       Joseph “Joe” Ellison (Nov. 24, 1955 – Sept. 18, 2014) was a longtime physical plant employee. He began working at UNCW as a housekeeper in 1987. Four years later, he moved to the paint shop and worked there for 23 years.

-       Marion “Mimi” Pfeiffer (May 31, 1956 – Dec. 6, 2014) had worked as the office manager in the University Learning Center since 2005. A native of Syracuse, NY, she was a graduate of Syracuse University and worked as the director of the Nursing Alumni Association and Health Professions Alumni Association for SUNY Upstate Medical Center.

-       Rebecca “Becky” Stancil (Feb. 9, 1941 – Oct. 26, 2013) worked in the UNCW CROSSROADS office for 10 years. She had previously worked at International Nickel Company and New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

-       Kenneth “Kenny” Sumner (May 10, 1981 – Aug. 1, 2014) started working in information technology systems in May 2006, shortly after graduating from UNCW with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts in film studies.

Sylvia and Herb Fisher helped fund the Fisher Memorial Garden in memory of Herb’s sister, Emily (1922-2008). The family wanted to create a special place on campus, dedicated to faculty, staff and students who pass away during their time at UNCW. A gift of $150 purchases the brick, its engraving and helps with general upkeep of the memorial.

The inaugural brick dedication ceremony was held in April 2011. A committee led by Larry Wray, executive director of campus life, works with various campus units each year to finalize the details for the event. The Student Government Association, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate participate in the program as well.

Terry Ismert, current Staff Senate chair, opened this year’s ceremony with welcoming remarks and thanked the Fishers for their continued support of UNCW. 

UNCW Chancellor Bill Sederburg said it was “critically important to recognize these phenomenal individuals who contributed so much and helped shape the lives of young people.”

After Ismert presented a rose to the families of the late staff members, the clocktower chimed once for each person being honored.

In closing, Patricia Leonard, UNCW vice chancellor for student affairs, said, “Though lost, these individuals will never be forgotten, because we will keep their memories in our hearts forever. Once a Seahawk, always a Seahawk.”

Jonathan Graves, who works in the UNCW Department of Information Technology Systems, was present at the event. “I am so thankful to be able to support the Kenny Sumner ITS Memorial Scholarship and to be here to see his name being added to the memorial garden. Kenny was my best friend for many years and one of the kindest human beings that I've known. He made a significant impact on a number of individuals across campus, and I know that he is remembered with such fondness.”

Graves collaborated with singer/songwriter Dylan Linehan on a song titled, You Are the Air. The song is dedicated to Sumner’s wife Ashley. “The song was written as a reminder that even after someone we care for returns to the earth, we are continually surrounded by their love and light,” said Graves.