In his seven years with Columbia Middle School, Dennis Carraway made a lasting impression on those who knew him, and they in turn wanted to leave a lasting legacy of his at the school.
In early April, the 31-year-old Carraway suddenly passed away, stunning the school community. In memory of Carraway, who was an ardent University of Georgia supporter and baseball fan, the school installed four original seats from Rosenblatt Stadium, former home of the Division I College World Series, on the first base side of home plate. Small plates with Carraway’s picture adorn each seat and were made by athletic director Amy Garrison and some of her students.
“For all that knew Dennis, they know how huge of a UGA fan he was,” said Garrison. “We plan to add seats each year in his honor, which will help keep the memory of Dennis alive with the students, athletes and staff. We all know how much Dennis was loved, and this is just a small way to honor the huge impact he had on us all.”
His wife Amber, who noted he always wore red and black, said he would have appreciated the gesture.
“It’s just a wonderful, wonderful tribute, he would be absolutely in love with the seats,” said Carraway from Miami, deep sea fishing as a tribute of her own because that’s something her late husband always wanted to do. “I’m so over the moon about it. It’s so fabulous, I can’t wait to see them.”
Carraway began teaching in 2007 as a special education teacher before transitioning to become a social studies teacher in 2008. Carraway helped coach football and baseball from the outset and in 2011 he led the school’s football team to a 6-0 record and the middle school title.
“The kids adored him,” Garrison said. “He was just relevant, the kids loved him. The last two months of school was really hard for his kids and it was a difficult transition to have someone come in and take his place. His wife came in a couple times to talk to them and encourage them and tell them to keep their heads up, that he would want them to succeeed. That was great. She’s been so gracious.”
Carraway wanted to do something for the school after seeing the outpouring of affection at the viewing.
“I was brokenhearted, but seeing their broken hearts it was just killing me,” Carraway said.
Carraway and her sister made 800 red and black memory bands to pass out to the school the following week. Dennis Carraway called his students by nicknames. In return, they called him Coach Carraway (Care Bear). Carraway thought that name was appropriate.
“He was beyond the sweetest man ever,” she said.