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OBGC’s new memorial garden remembers three lives cut short –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

A new memorial garden at Olney Boys and Girls Community Sports Association’s headquarters honors three young friends who died in a vehicle crash on the roadway in front of the park.

The memorial, dedicated Sept. 8, was inspired by Spencer Datt, 18, of Derwood; Haeley McGuire, 18, of Rockville; and Johnny Hoover, 20, of Rockville – graduates of Col. Zadok Magruder High School and part of the Olney Boys and Girls Club (OBGC) family – who died May 15, 2011, on Olney-Laytonsville Road.

The memorial is located in the main meeting area of Community Park at Freeman Fields, near the baseball concessions stand pavilion.

The space will also be used to honor other OBGC children, coaches and volunteers who have passed away.

“It is an important place in the center of the park that all the OBGC families can visit to remember the good times that have been had watching their kids play on the fields,” OBGC Chairman Lucian (Lu) Romano said.

The memorial garden is highlighted by a sculpture entitled “Spirit of Youth,” by James Hubert Blake High School art teacher John Overman and assisted by Blake students.

The steel sculpture incorporates three flying doves at its highest point, symbolizing Datt, McGuire and Hoover.

The sculpture “is meant to  honor and commentate not only their lives and spirit, but the lives of all who have been part of the OBGC family,” said Doug Datt, Spencer’s father.

He added, “The Datt, Hoover and McGuire families thank the OBGC Board of Directors, Lu Romano, Will Barry, Ken Bradford, Victoria Swope, Ruppert Nurseries and Dan Dionisio for their  vision, hard work and effort in making this memorial garden a reality.”

The memorial garden was designed and constructed by Ruppert Nurseries, headquartered in Laytonsville, and includes a new, large landscape area, an enhanced paved plaza, additional heart-shaped tree bed and a stone seat wall.

Bradford, OBGC’s executive director, said the organization is “so proud to be able to honor the lives” of the three “and give their families and friends a place at OBGC Park to remember them.”

He said the OBGC board members have been instrumental in bringing the garden to fruition through their hard work and dedication to “these three young friends that were lost much too soon.”

Members of the Datt, Hoover and McGuire families joined community members at the park for the dedication.

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