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Memorials to help improve skate park
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Barron Frith (right), president of Martinsville Community Recreation Association, presents a check to John Cassell (second from right) for funds donated in memory of Cassell’s son, Tyler. With them are (front row, from left) relatives of Tyler Cassell, Ruth Glenn, his grandmother; Kim Cassell, his mother; Brock Cassell, his brother, and John Cassell; (second row, from left) recreation association member William Hankins; Tyler Cassell’s sister, Ashton Cassell; (back row, from left) City Manager Leon Towarnicki; recreation association members David Bell (in front), L.D. Oakes, Doug Hankins and Tim Byrd. The funds will help cover improvements to the skateboard area of Wilson Park in Martinsville, where Tyler Cassell’s family placed a bench (front) in his honor. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Donations in honor of a former Martinsville teenager who died in 2011 are expected to help improve a local skate park — with a little help from the community.

Tyler Cassell, 17, died at the scene of a Dec. 10, 2011, single-vehicle accident on Route 106 in Charles City County, east of Richmond. He had spent years in the Martinsville schools before transferring to Magna Vista High School in the ninth grade.

He was slated to graduate from Magna Vista in 2012, but he moved to Virginia Beach after deciding to get his high school equivalency early.

While he was living in Martinsville, whenever Tyler was not in school, “he was right here, skating,” his father, John Cassell, said Friday near the skate park at J. Frank Wilson Park in Martinsville.

When Cassell died, his family asked that memorials be made to the Martinsville Community Recreation Association, according to Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki and Barron Frith, president of the recreation association.

Donations started coming in early 2012, and they continued through April or May, Towarnicki said.

On Friday, Frith presented a $420 check to John Cassell as several family members, local officials and others gathered at Wilson Park.

“This is in memory of Tyler. We are sure you miss him. We do, too,” Frith said.

Cassell accepted the check long enough to sign it and hand it back to the association in hope that it would be used to make improvements to the park.

“This was a small token that my family wanted to do,” Cassell said.

Frith, Towarnicki and others briefly discussed how the funds could be used to make further improvements when combined with a $1,000 contribution from Springs Industries.

Towarnicki said he did not know the details of upgrades yet, and the city council would make a final decision on those. But he assured the Cassell family that he would let members know how the money is spent.

Frith Construction also made a contribution, and the Cassell family installed a granite bench near the skating park. “In Memory of Tyler K. Cassell” is engraved in the bench.

“Tyler loved the skate park,” John Cassell said. “He had a lot of good friends here.”

Also at Friday’s event were Cassell’s wife, Kim Cassell; their children, Ashton and Brock Cassell; and Tyler Cassell’s grandmother, Ruth Glenn.


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