Labor of Love: Lebanon welding class honors woman's late daughter

"When it came in, it didn't look like that great of a bench. It was kinda falling apart, but when it was like all together, it felt like I was piecing back together this woman's life," said one of the students.

Posted: Oct 17, 2019 6:13 PM

LEBANON, Ore. -- Down a windy, dusty road, deep in the city of Lebanon, there is a cemetery with graves dating over 150 years old, but far back, facing the mountains, there is a bench with a story as touching as it is beautiful.

Susan Anderson lost her daughter to leukemia 13 years ago.

"My daughter Casie was 10 when she passed away," said Anderson. "When (she) got baptised she drew this picture of butterflies and then they had that in the baptism -- having to do with the rebirthing. After she passed away I saw the butterflies and thought it was the perfect bench for her."

And there it sat for years before wear and tear broke it down -- something Anderson couldn't bear to see.

At Sand Ridge Cemetery, many souls have been laid to rest, but Anderson said she's committed to keeping her late daughter's memory alive. And with the help of Lebanon High School, she hasn't had to do that alone.

Lebanon High School's advanced welding class stepped up to give the bench some love and care.

"This woman had a heartwrenching story," said welding instructor Bob Tatum. "This bench was in front of her daughter's gravesite and she liked to go visit her daughter's grave."

Tatum gave the assignment to two girls in the class, Brie and Ellie. He hoped it would have a special meaning for them.

"When it came in, it didn't look like that great of a bench. It was kinda falling apart, but when it was like all together, it felt like I was piecing back together this woman's life," said Ellie.

Anderson said that when she saw what the kids did for her, she burst into tears.

"People aren't like that anymore," she said. "You don't hear a lot of stories like that about people being kind and doing something for somebody."

As for the girls, they said they're proud to have helped Anderson.

And the bench they repaired -- now shiny and bright -- sits as a living memory to a girl who's gone but never forgotten.

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