Friends hope to name field after soldier
By Monte Mitchell
Tuesday, June 5, 2007



Former classmates and a high-school baseball coach asked the Wilkes County Board of Education yesterday to name the baseball field at Wilkes Central High School in memory of Army Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr.

Bauguess, who was killed by enemy small-arms fire in Pakistan last month, is buried in the cemetery of his lifelong church a half-mile from where he played baseball at Wilkes Central.

Keith Deveraux, a friend and classmate of the Wilkes Central Class of 1989, told the school board that Bauguess “is the ideal role model for all the students of the Wilkes County school system.”

Deveraux and other members of a memorial committee said they didn’t expect an answer yesterday, but proposed the idea so that the board could work with them over the summer and take action at the board’s August meeting.

School-board members limited their public comments to thanking the group. After the meeting, Superintendent Steve Laws said that a committee would be formed to make a recommendation.

The committee will include members of the high school, school board, and community.

The school system’s policy allows for fields, buildings and other things to be named in honor or memory of someone who has helped students in the district succeed through financial contributions or educational leadership.

Bauguess would be eligible under the policy, administrators said, in recognizing the educational leadership he provided while a student.

Classmate Mandy Brame Marxen told board members that as a teenager, Bauguess helped his fellow students. As a man, he was genuine and decent, she said, exemplifying characters traits the schools work to instill: responsibility, respect, self-discipline, kindness, courage and integrity.

She said that his last act on earth involved working on a deal to bring peace.

Bauguess was on duty in Afghanistan, but was killed less than two miles inside Pakistan as he left a meeting meant to ease tensions after border clashes between Afghans and Pakistanis. He was 36. He left behind a wife and two young children as well as his parents, who live near the school.

“The point is, many of us are incredibly lucky that Larry grew up near Wilkes Central High School,” Marxen said. His friends are making the request, she said, “so we can remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice of a highly decorated member of one of our own.”

Tim Lackey was Bauguess’ coach at Wilkes Central from 1987 to 1989. He remembered Bauguess as a pitcher with a good curveball. He also played second base and pinch hit, and asked every day at practice about what he could do.

“He was the heart and soul of what we had,” Lackey said, before the meeting. “He helped out tremendously. He was a team leader. Even if you were getting beat he wouldn’t let you get down.”

During Bauguess’ senior year at Wilkes Central, the team made the state playoffs for the first time since at least the mid-1980s, when Lackey became coach. Its record was less than .500 in the previous year as the team lost some close games.

“They were hard for us to deal with, but we gave it all we had whether we won or lost,” Bauguess wrote in his yearbook. Lackey’s voice cracked as he read the passage.

“If you asked him to do anything on the field, he did it,” Lackey said. “Larry did everything he could do to help the team. I think that’s what he did for the United States.”

Monte Mitchell can be reached in Wilkesboro at 667-5691 or at