The Dale L. Askey Memorial Art Courtyard
The essay below was written by Dale Askey, in October 2004, in the Fall of his Senior year at Starpoint. It was Dale's response to a question asked on an application for early acceptance into medical school. Dale was indeed accepted into this program, was awarded a full scholarship for his pre-med education, and had, in addition, been presented with other offers of over $400,000 in college scholarships. He was a bright young man with a promising future as a trauma surgeon. At Starpoiont, Dale was a scholar athlete and was a proud co-President of the Class of 2005 during his junior and senior years.
Dale was killed in a tragic car accident ¼ mile from his home, on May 20th 2005, just 3 days after his 18th birthday, a week before prom, and a month before graduation. I read this essay at his funeral, after which more than 200 people requested a copy. It also soon became the foundation of the development of the Starpoint Art Courtyard.
The Starpoint Art Courtyard was in its early planning stages during Dale’s senior year. He was not artistic, but did have a personal bond with a Starpoint art teacher. Dale informed me that since he was going to be attending college locally, he was going to help the school raise funds for the construction of the courtyard. Upon his death, my family requested memoriam gifts be made to the Starpoint Art Courtyard. The courtyard was truly on its way to fruition.
From this point on, Dale’s essay became both a ‘thank you’ for helping with work in the courtyard, but was also an emotional motivator for those individuals and businesses which were critical in the actual construction of the core of the Courtyard in the years that followed. Those contributing local businesses had similar reactions to the essay. Most said, “I can’t believe a 17 year old wrote this… how can I help?” To date, over 5,000 copies of this essay have been handed out. Many people also say that they have kept the essay close at hand as a frequent reminder of the simple values they hope to live by, as well as the fact that life on Earth can be short.
I hope that you enjoy this essay and that you receive your own special message from it.
Jim Askey, Dale’s Dad
The question, "As you approach your 90th birthday, after a long, successful career as an award-winning and innovative surgeon, what do you want to be remembered for?"
Dale L. Askey's Essay
As my 90th birthday approaches, I have been told that a journalist would be coming to interview me. This is an important interview, for it will be published in The Medical Monthly Update. I am supposed to be thinking of memories, my own and how I would like to be remembered by others when I’m gone.
This almost makes me feel as though they think that I’m half dead already, however, I’m in excellent condition, and able to function fully on my own. I hope that the person interviewing me will want to include in their article, not so much the timeline of my life, but the lessons that I learned throughout my life. There are some things that one can only know through experience, and I wish sometimes that I had the knowledge I do now when I was younger. Through living, you don’t necessarily learn times and dates, you learn how to live. I know that just writing the lessons that I have learned in 90 years of life wouldn’t be enough for people to remember, it would be as if reading a book of adages. You would remember some, but most wouldn’t have any meaning to remember them by. The best format would be to write down each chapter of my life, and make sure that the lesson is there, that it shines through the words as if it had been drawn upon the page.
I would wish my readers to be able to better understand themselves from reading about me. It would bring me great pleasure to hear that I had saved someone from making a life-altering mistake. So many lessons are learned after not heeding the warning “listen to your dad, he knows best, because he’s already been there”. I hated hearing that, as do most people, but I sure have a lot of stories that fall appropriately into that category. I can fill a few paragraphs that might capture a reader’s attention. If written well enough, the reader will get the message without having to hear the admonition.
I want to be remembered for my contributions to others, professionally and personally. My willingness to drop everything that I was doing to help out a friend, and I am blessed to have had many. There were endless days, when I didn’t see daylight, except through the windows in my office. There was always another patient emergency, or a surgical procedure that couldn’t wait until my vacation was over. That’s what makes a doctor the luckiest person alive. When you can make an impact on someone’s life, heal them from disease, save their life, it really makes me feel alive. From those who lose their battle, the reward of witnessing death is the gift of hope, dignity, and compassion, not sorrow. People who didn’t matter to anyone, meant a lot to me. I would sometimes come across someone who looked lost and acquaint myself with them, lend them a guiding hand in whichever direction they needed to be going. I would wish to be remembered as the gracious physician who offered assistance to any who needed it. Still to others, maybe I would just be remembered as the kindly old man next door with all the gardening tips and nightly walks around the block, during which he frequently stopped to ask how a neighbor was doing. To be one who lived a happy life, who took little for himself and gave lovingly to others would be the ideal remembrance.
I would wish this article to be read by the real, everyday person, not just the curious physician turning the pages from one medical breakthrough article to the next. I hope it is one that can be read by all who want to feel alive throughout life, to teach them that you can be generous and caring toward others, make a difference in your community, and still experience a good life, a great life. I hope that people can cry as we travel through my pains together, smile at my better times, laugh at my humiliating moments, and yet at the end, to leave a feeling of respect and warmth that seems to be found in less and less places today.
On December 12, 2005, the Board of Education unanimously approved the drawings and plans to build The Dale L. Askey Memorial Art Courtyard and Performance Stage. This project was built with donations – monetary, goods and services – from businesses and individuals, plus any grants that may be awarded.
NO MONIES WERE RECEIVED THROUGH THE SCHOOL BUDGET!
The courtyard includes 21 art areas, from prehistoric to modern art. Also included in the 19,000 square foot area is a mini-amphitheater that is available for classes and presentations. The endowment also provided at least two stipends per year for visual and performing arts presentations, available to K-12.
The performance stage is available for band/chorus concerts, Shakespeare Lives!, and award ceremonies. It is located next to the athletic fields at the edge of the high school parking lot.
All grade levels were involved in the construction of the courtyard. They helped with the planting of trees, shrubs, flowers, and ground cover, and helped to create art work that is on permanent display in the courtyard.
We are very grateful to Senator George Maziarz for assisting the Starpoint School District in securing a grant for the DLA courtyard. This grant along with the very generous donations from the Starpoint community and several art auctions funded the DLA Memorial Fund. The proceeds of the DLA Memorial Fund have been used to enrich the curriculum by sponsoring many local and regional artists. Through their instruction, they have provided the following educational experiences for our students:
- Carlton Van Pyrz, a local artist, instructed Intermediate students on the interpretation and understanding of the work of the artist Picasso.
- Four Shillings Short, a Folk Art Music Group, instructed Intermediate students on the creation of music with different musical instruments.
- Sandra Bartz, a local artist, visited the district for five days and worked with high school art students on the skills of painting with oil.
- Sean Manning, a local artist, entrepreneur and Starpoint graduate, instructed high school art students for five days on the art and skills associated with ceramics. Mr. Manningn also generouslt supplied all of hte ceramic tile used ot create the wall in the Oriental Area in the Courtyard.
- Melissa Brown, the Curator of the Buffalo Historical Society, instructed middle school art students on painting restoration and the proper methods of caring and cleaning various works of art.
- Virginia Kelley, a watercolor artist, taught high school art students the techniques of watercolor painting.
- Alan Jameson II, a local artist, introduced high school art students to the art creations of the Native Americans. He specifically taught the students about “Dream Catchers” and their true meaning to that culture.
- Bill Wilson, a local artist, instructed high school art students on the skills and techniques of creating a 3-D metal art sculpture. He is the creator of the metal “Artist Pallet” in the DLA Courtyard.
- Simon Griffis, a regional artist and founder of the Griffis Sculpture Park in Ashford Hollow, NY, also instructed high school art students on the creation of the metal art work that is seen on the grounds as you enter the high school. Artists from his foundation also spent many days at Starpoint instructing students on how to cast metal art molds.
- Katherine Giles, a local artist, worked 8 days with high school art students teaching the techniques of watercolor painting.
- Chuck Tinsley, a local artist, worked with Middle School students painting a mural in the middle school cafeteria.
- Marcelo Florencio, a glass artist, taught high school art students for 4 days the art and skill of glass sculpture.
- Christine DeNee Reilly, a local artist, taught middle and high school students how to create large personal caricatures.