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Students, Parents Mourn Death of Crossing Guard

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FAYETTEVILLE — An elementary school crossing guard may have been the most popular man at school. He was considered a father figure, and a generous friend. Now, students and parents are mourning his death.

Tom Cain is not the regular crossing guard for Vanstory Hills Elementary School, and the children have noticed. Students say the new crossing guard is shy.

"I don't care who comes here, they will never be the same as Mr. Hall," Cain said.

Ralph Hall, 78, passed away last week. He was a crossing guard at the school for seven years and knew everyone on the block.

Students said that Hall always asked about school, and followed the children's progress.

Hall never missed a day - rain or shine - until going into the hospital for heart surgery. For a week, flyers were hung at his crosswalk with daily updates on his condition. There was also a mailbox where students placed get well cards. Those cards have been replaced with sympathy cards and flowers.

The entire neighborhood is grieving.

"Surprisingly, I was very sad," parent Gina Harvey said. "I surprised myself, I cried."

Hall won the hearts of the children, and even the residents in the neighborhood who do not have kids. They considered him a longtime friend.

He is a friend who is gone, but not forgotten. A tree will be planted at the school in his honor by the very kids Hall helped keep safe each day.

Principal Donald Dixon says Hall was caring in too many ways to count. He says last Christmas the crossing guard gave a substantial amount of money to help a needy family at the school.