BEFORE--April 23, 2016

AFTER--June 11, 2016

Do you recall the EAGLES in concrete in front of the RHS auditorium? It was completed in October 1967 in the middle of the football team's drive to the state semifinals. 

EAGLES-in-Concrete: A Brief History

The beginning of EAGLES-in-concrete in front of the RHS Auditorium started as a little fun by two class of ’69 members, David Simpson and Ken Gideon, who were working on a grounds crew for RISD in the summer of 1967. They were laying sod in front of the auditorium and, as a lark, decided to lay out some of the sod to spell out EAGLES. After hearing about it, Larry Norsworthy, Student Council president in 1967-68, approached Principal Joe Collum for approval of a project to create a concrete structure that included EAGLES in the open spaces. With Principal Collum's approval the Key Club took charge of the project, which was finished in the fall of 1967.

(The remainder of the story is interspersed with photos below.)

Over time, the live oak tree behind the concrete grew very large, and its shade made it difficult for the sod in the letters to grow. The grass was replaced with shrubbery, but the shrubbery wouldn’t grow well in some areas, and it was so tall that the letters were completely obscured. Many students were unaware that the structure spelled “EAGLES”.

As the live oak grew larger and larger, its roots began destroying parts of the concrete. One section of the concrete was removed, apparently to install a sprinkler and possibly without the workers even realizing what the structure was.

After 48+ years, the EAGLES-in-concrete was in a terrible state of disrepair.

Meanwhile, in the fall of 2015, RHS 1969 classmates Phil Dyer, Brenda Brown Dickey, and David Cordell began investigating possibilities for a project to benefit RHS in advance of upcoming 50th reunion. They met with the executive director of the RISD Foundation to address fundraising, and in March 2016 Phil contacted RHS principal Charles Bruner to ask what types of projects would be helpful to RHS.

Saved from Destruction

In the discussion, principal Bruner indicated to Phil that he planned to demolish and remove the “eyesore” EAGLES-in-concrete and to sod over the entire space. After Phil shared that information with David Cordell, David contacted Bruner and suggested that the structure may be salvageable. He asked to be allowed assemble a crew of classmates to remove the scruffy shrubbery to reveal the actual structure. Bruner was skeptical, but, recognizing that there was nothing to lose, agreed to allow the experiment.

April 23, 2016 – Phil Dyer, Phil Fielder, Russ Stovall, Bob Wainner (Class of ’68), and David Cordell assembled at the site to dig out all the shrubbery and extraneous roots, clearly revealing the word EAGLES, and exposing considerable damage in the concrete structure. David posted information about the effort on the www.RHS1969.net website and on a Facebook site (Remember in Richardson, when…). The Facebook site elicited scores of favorable comments, even from alumni of the other three RISD high schools, and David forwarded the comments to Principal Bruner as an indication of the support for the continuation of the project. Principal Bruner approved the project to move forward.

May 31, 2016—Steve Healy, Jim Richmond, and David Cordell formed a work crew to remove the most severely damaged sections of the EAGLES-in-concrete. Steve cut straight lines with a grinder, then they broke up the concrete with sledgehammers, pick axes, and shovels. Steve drilled holes for re-bar dowels that would tie-in the old sections with the new pour to help minimize movement of the concrete. 

June 7, 2016—Steve Healy, Jim Richmond, Hugh Rogers, Rusty McBride, Phil Dyer, and David Cordell convened at the sight to build forms to complete the letter shapes, insert re-bar, mix and pour concrete into the forms, and imbed stones into the new concrete. Over half of the reconstruction was accomplished. (Thanks to Billy Hines for bringing snacks.)

June 8, 2016—Steve Healy, Jim Richmond, Rusty McBride, and David Cordell completed the remainder of the reconstruction and excavated the letters to an appropriate depth for refilling with landscape mix. (Brenda Brown Dickey also made an appearance to provide moral support!) It must be emphasized that the key person on June 7-8 was Steve Healy. He brought expertise to the project and worked like an absolutely tireless machine. It was Steve who drilled and sawed the concrete. It was amazing to watch. He also formed and poured a sample repair before June 7, and he went to the site by himself to remove all the forms after the June 7 and June 8 workdays.

June 11, 2016—Phil Dyer, David Grant, Pat Cowlishaw, Rusty McBride, Glenn Messmer, Bob Wainner, and David Cordell filled the letters with landscape mix and planted Mondo (monkey) grass in the letters. (Thanks to Bert Blair ’71 for arranging wholesale pricing for plants and landscape mix.)

The Mondo grass was planted very closely, but we expect it to become even thicker over time. It will likely drop an inch or two over time with natural compaction, and this will make the letters appear more defined.

Special Thanks

The following individuals participated by providing labor for the project:

  • David Cordell
  • Pat Cowlishaw
  • Phil Dyer
  • Phil Fielder
  • David Grant
  • Steve Healy
  • Rusty McBride
  • Glenn Messmer
  • Jim Richmond
  • Hugh Rogers
  • Russ Stovall
  • Bob Wainner ('68)

Financial donations were solicited to finance the project, and they far exceeded the cost. The excess will be retained for future projects. Thanks to all of these individuals, whose donations ranged from $25 to $300.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Joyce Baden Rogers (’72)
  • Ron Baldock
  • Brenda Brown Dickey
  • David Cordell
  • Pat Cowlishaw
  • Madalyn Crawford Conrad (’68)
  • Ben Finkelstein
  • Ron Forrest
  • Bruce Gadd
  • Terry Granade
  • David Grant
  • Janet Hambright Carter
  • Steve Healy
  • Hollis Heyn
  • Billy Hines
  • Ginger Hodges Murphy
  • Carla Hutto Bruce
  • Janalu Jeanes Parchman
  • Karen Kennedy Seidler
  • Laura Kirklen
  • Ron Knight
  • Jennifer Lin Sickman ('70)
  • Judye Livings Stewart
  • Jerry May
  • Debbie Michaels Todd
  • Tamme Michaels Goodwin
  • Hermayne Nault Merritt
  • Melinda Nelson Moody
  • Jan Parker
  • Dian Pritchett Nicholson
  • Hugh Rogers
  • Janet Rumbaugh Young
  • Randale Rushing
  • David Seidler
  • Jackie Theobald Durrett
  • Regina Threet Watkins
  • Janet Veerman Harvey
  • Bob Wainner (’68)
  • Melinda Wallis Campbell
  • Melody Ware Taylor
  • Dave Woodul

MORE PHOTOS: The photos below are not necessarily in chronological order.




After the worst sections were removed. Looks like pixelated EAGLES.