Every day, as they walk into Dunn Elementary School, dozens of children pass a sweet bay magnolia tree with a small plaque in front of it:
From the Class of 2001
In memory of
10-23-82 – 2-9-90
The tree was dedicated by a group of high school seniors to their first-grade classmate, Rob, whose life was cut tragically short when he was hit by a car at age 7.
“I was there for the dedication,” remembered his mother, Susan Means. “I told them, ‘Rob’s gone. He didn’t get the opportunity to do great things. You need to do it for him.’” That’s also how she and her husband, Bob Means, both Bellarmine graduates, feel about the scholarship fund they established this year in Rob’s name. “We’re going to give somebody the opportunity to do some good in the world that he didn’t have,” Susan said. The Robert Simpson Means Scholarship, which is renewable, is intended for education majors from the sophomore year through graduate school.
Education is very important to Susan Means, who graduated with a degree in education in 1975. (Bob, an accounting major, graduated in 1976.) She taught at St. Albert the Great and then worked as media clerk at Dunn Elementary for 18 years, retiring in 2012. Her parents and one grandmother were teachers.
Her sister Judy Magre ’72 retired from Jefferson County Public Schools and now works as an instructional assistant at Slaughter Elementary, and her sister Sarah works in the JCPS central office. Daughter Ellen Stier teaches fifth grade at Johnsontown Road Elementary.
“I truly believe education is the key to improving one’s life, and great teachers are the people who make that happen,” Susan said. “I’m grateful we had the ability to do this. Our priest says, ‘To whom much has been given, much will be required,’ and we try to live that.”
The couple’s two other children, Anne Frye ’03 and John Means ’08, went to Bellarmine. “All of our children have graduated from college. We expect Rob would have, too, and would have been a good, productive citizen.” She loves the idea that his name will live on through a scholarship that will help other young people succeed.
“When your child dies, especially at a young age,” she said, “one of the things you think about is that he’s going to be forgotten. He was a 7-year-old. What has a 7 year-old done? He loved life; he loved riding his bicycle; he had lots of friends. All of those friends turned out, but afterwards, life goes on. Who’s going to remember this little boy who was so important in our lives? That is a big part of it for both me and Bob: to keep his memory alive. To share the happiness he gave us.”