When Portville Central School teacher David Waugh died of cancer last fall, his colleagues and former students raved about the impact he had on them.
Now, Waugh’s legacy has inspired a student to create a memorial plaque that will be displayed in the school’s fitness center.
The plaque includes a photo of Waugh, as well as engravings for the sports he coached, the ecology camp he assisted with and the logo of his favorite college sports team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. It also includes a quote: “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
It was made by Skyler Hubbard, who presented it as his senior project during the school’s senior high awards ceremony last week. Hubbard created the plaque in woodshop, machined the engravings using a CNC machine, and etched the picture of Waugh in granite using with a laser cutter in the school’s Envisioneering Center.
Working at Portville Central School for 24 years, Waugh was a sixth-grade math teacher and assistant football coach. He also previously coached wrestling at the school, and previously taught at Washington West Elementary School in the Olean City School District.
He was known for being tough, but also fair and caring, according to his colleagues and former students.
“Everyone is better because of Dave Waugh,” Portville Central School teacher and former football head coach Gary Swetland said shortly after Waugh’s death. “We were very fortunate in Portville to have had Dave and all of us will be better for it.”
Even after receiving the throat cancer diagnosis last year that kept him out of coaching and at times teaching, Waugh was always trying to say involved, school officials said.
“Here he’s battling for his life, and he’s texting me nonstop wanting to know what the score is, how the kids are doing, who was doing what,” Larry Welty, high school principal of the Portville Central School District, said after Waugh’s passing. “It was never about how he was feeling, it was, ‘How is your family doing? How’s your mom and dad? How’s your wife? How’s your kids? How’s the football team doing?’”
Waugh died Oct. 31. He was 53 and is survived by his wife, Shelly, and their three children, Benjamin, Mathew and Maggie.
The plaque will be officially presented at a dedication ceremony at a date to be announced.