Mural honoring emergency responders dedicated

November 22, 2012
A mural completed by members of Washingon Senior Citizens art class, led by mural artist and class instructor Diane Adams of Claysville, was dedicated Tuesday. The mural is on a wall separating the back of the Senior Citizens Center and Washington Police Department and took four months to complete during weekly art classes. Class members who painted the mural are, from left, Gerry Dille, Ruth Shorts, Erma Young, Lorelei Rissel, Bonnie Lunsford, Frances Shawinski, Mary Ann Swan and Adams. - Robin Richards / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

For five months, artist Diane Adams has been working with nine of her female students on a mural worthy of local police officers, firefighters and other first responders who have or ultimately could pay the ultimate cost in service of others.

Now complete, the mural is a heavenly addition to the Memorial Garden located between the Washington police station and the Washington Senior Citizens Center on Maiden Street.

“Hopefully the mural serves its purpose and continues to for many years,” said Adams, who teaches an art class at the senior center and who designed the mural that features a garden path that passes through two open gates with an angel waiting on the other side.

Earlier this year, Carolyn Miller, a van driver for the senior center, asked city council if they would approve turning a bare strip of land lined by a 20-by-5-foot cinder block wall into a garden honoring police, firefighters and others. Miller, the mother of city police Officer Jonathan Miller, who also works part time for East Washington Borough, envisioned a tranquil space to be enjoyed not only by police but seniors who go to the center and other members of the community.

She came up with the idea shortly after East Washington police Officer David Dryer was killed when he was shot during a traffic stop. Council unanimously gave her the go-ahead.

Miller began by planting flowers and a tree, but she didn’t know what to do with the blank wall. She put out a call for local artists to come forward with their ideas on how to decorate the area, but she got no response.

That’s when she learned about the art class offered at the center and Adams, a muralist by trade.

Adams, of Washington, enthusiastically agreed to take on the job with her students assisting her.

Adams and her students, all of mature ages, withstood 90-degree temperatures through the summer, kneeling next to the wall with paint brushes in hand.

Making up the group of women were Gerry Dille, Audrey Wagers, Loreleie Rissel, Bonnie Lunsford, Mary Ann Swan, Ruth Shorts, Erma Young, Fran Shawinski and Delores Liddle. All but one of the women were on hand for Thursday’s dedication of the garden.

The women all said they were proud of the work and most thought they would never have done a mural. All except for Rissel.

“On my bucket list was to do a mural,” she explained.

The garden builders’ efforts were applauded by Mayor Brenda Davis, Councilman Joe Manning, state Sen. Tim Solobay and a crowd of others.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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