A raw wound at Lakeland

Published 9:56 pm Monday, September 22, 2014

It’s hard to know the words to say whenever someone dies. But when that person is just 39, and — in addition to being a wife, a mother and a grandmother — she’s a beloved guidance counselor for a high school that works hard to develop close relationships between the students and their adult mentors…. Well, words just seem hardly sufficient to the task in such a case.

In the wake of the death last week of Keisha Sawyer Roberts, there were many people in her family and among the Lakeland High School community who found themselves searching for the words to describe what she had meant to them and the sadness they would feel for her loss.

LHS Principal Douglas Wagoner made a strong effort on Friday. “I would say she could be described as a beacon of hope and ray of sunshine in the lives of her students,” he said. “The students absolutely loved her. She had a beautiful, caring smile, and always had words of encouragement and wisdom for everybody.”

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Fran Barnes, a retired principal who had worked with Roberts when she’d been at Mount Zion Elementary School, had similar thoughts. “She was a very caring person whose cheery personality made her well-liked by the students and staff,” Barnes said.

Indeed, counselors were on hand at Lakeland on Thursday to talk to students or faculty members who wanted help with their grief. The wound Roberts’ passing has left at the school is one that will take some time to heal.

And that’s even truer for her family, of course, especially for her husband, Randy, who described the pair as childhood sweethearts who would have celebrated their 16th anniversary next month.

The words seem insufficient. Nonetheless, to Randy Roberts, especially, and to the students and faculty at Lakeland High School, we offer our sincere condolences and prayers for a mighty peace.