Committee wants Wilkes Central baseball field named for officer
By Karin M. Clack
Wilkes Journal-Patriot reporter
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Members of the class of 1989 from Wilkes Central High School recently formed a committee and presented a request Monday night to the Wilkes Board of Education to name the baseball field at the school in memory of Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr., who was killed May 14 in Pakistan.

Bauguess, originally from Moravian Falls, was killed after he was in a meeting held to help ease tension following recent clashes between Afghan and Pakistani forces. Bauguess, 36, was deployed to Afghanistan in January as operations officer for the special troops (headquarters) battalion of the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Bragg.

Members fromt he committee want to name the baseball field the Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr. Memorial Field.

Mandy Marxen asked the board to form a committee over the summer and to meet with the Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr. Memorial Committee, then vote to approve the naming of the field at the August board meeting.

Ms. Marxen read fromt he school system's policy regarding naming school facilities.

In part, the policy states the superintendent will consider several criteria aw well as other factors the superintendent determines to be relevant in identifying potential names for the facility. One criteria is "the name may be in honor or in memory of an individual who has helped students inthis school district succeed through financial contributions or educational leadership."

Ms. Marxen said, "Larry Bauguess wasn't a rich man, so he didn't give financial contributions back to the school - at least as far as I know. But he helped his fellow students at Wilkes Central the entire time he was there, and beyond, by being honest and very even tempered to everyone in the class.

"His leadership in the US Army helped the class of 1989 and countless others across this country by making htis war very real," said Ms. Marxen. "He is the highest ranking officer from Wilkes County to die in service since the Civil War. That is a milestone I hope, for the sake of Wilkes County, never gets surpassed."

With much emotion, Ms. Marxen said, "The week he was killed, Maj. Larry Bauguess was mediateing a border dispute between Pakistan and Afghanistan working with NATO, using international leadership skills on a global scale.

"We are in a war, but it doesn't feel like it most of the time," said Ms. Marxen. Most of us havne't sacrificed a thing for this war. Not like the WWII food rations, - not like the draft. We still go out to dinner, mow our lawns and go about our daily lives."

"It's sad to say, but this war hasn't touched many of us in any real, tangible way. Until now," said Ms. Marxen.

"Larry grew up here with a tremendous love of baseball and a competitive spirit that drove him to achieve both on the ball field and off," said Ms. Marxen. "He was a genuine and decent man, who honored his family and his soldiers."

Speaking of the character traits of the Wilkes County School System, Mx. Marxen sait that Bauguess exemplified "self-discipline." "He joined ROTC while in college, at a time when many of us were anything but self-disciplined, and he patiently mentored other sutdents," said Ms. Marxen. He also exemplified "integrity." "His last act on this earth involved working on a deal to bring peace to a tumultuous area of the globe," she said.

In Memory

Keith Deveraux said, "Because we are human beings and part of the family of mankind, we are aware that in the midst of life, there is death.

"But while death is universal, we are also aware that the lives which lead to death differ drastically in quality," said Deveraux. "We realize that some people live their lives with such honor, morality and dignity that in their death it is only fitting that those around them stand up and proclaim that this was a life worthy of note, worthy of respect, worthy of honor.

"Our classmate, our friend, a fellow citizen of Wilkes County, Maj. Larry John Bauguess Jr., has left us," said Deveraux. "We who stay behind remember what the life of Maj. Larry Bauguess was like and what he gave. We have little choice but to gather togetehr to express our regret that he is gone but, more importantly, our thanks that he was with us, and example to us all of just how fine a person can be."

Reasons given by Deveraux for wanting to name the field after Bauguess include the fact that Bauguess was the highest ranking officer from Wilkes County to die in combat since the Civil War; he was helping to settle a border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan when he was killed; and he was working with NATO to bring about peace to the region.

A 1989 graduate of Wilkes Central High School, Bauguess was a memeber of the school's baseball team, member of the executive council, member of the senior class and president of the Junior Civitan Club.

"It's obvious that Maj. Larry Bauguess exemplifites the character traits of the Wilkes County School System - kindness, good judgement, courage, integrity and perserverance. He is the ideal role model for all the students of the Wilkes County School System," said Deveraux. "Maj. Larry Bauguess was a great man who was dedicated to God, his family, his community and his country."

Jennifer Vandiver said, "I have known Larry for several years on many different levels. Larry and I grew to know each other best in our teenage years at Wilkes Central. Larry was a very warm, considerate young man who possessed qualities of trustworthiness, honor, generosity, loyalty and respectability.

"He was someone I knew in a moment's notice that I could call on and he would be there, no matter the circumstance," said Ms. Vandiver.

"Larry was an excellent baseball player who mommitted himself to not only the game but to his team," said Ms. Vandiver. "He knew the meaning of collaboration and allegiance and would use these skills not only in the game of baseball, but later in his military life.

"Unofrtunately, after high school Larry and I had lost contact for many years," said Ms Vandiver. "We had regained our contact after a reunion and we kept in touch through e-mail, mostly. His character had not changed, only matured. His honor, generosity, loyalty and respectability had been taken to a whole new level.

"He valued his family beyond compare. He devoted his life to serving and protecting our country," said Ms. Vandiver. "Larry lived his life as an open book and lived as an example to his children, his wife and his paratroopers. There is nothing he would ask of others that he would not do himself.

"Naming the baseball facility at Wilkes Central after Maj. Larry Bauguess would only enhance our community," said Ms. Vandiver. "This would be a witness to other students inour high schools to strive to be an individual like him, one with exeptional morals, values and ambition."

Tim Lackey, former teacher and baseball coach at Wilkes Central, said with much emotion, "I found out a couple of weeks ago by e-mail that Larry had been killed. I was devastated." Lackey served as coach from 1985-1998. He now works at Wilkes Community College.

"Larry and I got to know each other real well," siad Lackey. "Larry played baseball for me from 1996-98. He was a pitcher and a second baseman.

"Our relationship goes back further than that," noted Lackey. "While I was in college I got to umpire Larry's games while he was in Little League. I thought to myself, 'this kid is going to be a good baseball player one of these days.' He wasn't a star or a standout pitcher.

"I'm a firm believer that God has a reason for everything," said Lackey. "I picked up some traits from Larry. Everday at practice and every game he would come up to me and ask, 'what can I do coach?' It didn't make any difference if I asked him to go gem me some water, he would go do it.

"I had him as a student, too," said Lackey. "He was a fabulous student. Same thing in the class, he would ask, 'what can I do today?' He was a leader not only in the classroom, but also on the field.

"Stored in the back of my closet was one of my old ahd a quote from Larry. In 1989 Larry said,'We gave all we had whether we won or lost.' I think Larry won," said Lackey with much emotion.

"I asked myself this afternoon coming here, what can I do for Larry. I think you need to name this field for Larry," said Lackey. "I spent a lot of time on that field coaching, getting the field ready, mowing the grass, cleaning up and talking with parents and students. I got to see my little girl grow up there for a little while."