Augusta Christian Schools recently lost its founder and biggest supporter, Leila Havird.
Havird, 87, died April 14.
"She was a unique, amazing lady," said Dr. John Bartlett, interim headmaster of the private Christian school on Baston Road in Martinez. "Actually, Augusta Christian was the love of her life, or a major one."
With a vision for Christian education in Augusta, Havird started the school in 1958, with one teacher and eight kindergarten students meeting at Druid Park Church.
After three years, the school moved to a location on Golden Camp Road, and had 334 students in kindergarten through eighth grades in 1972.
Bartlett, who visited Havird several times each year to deliver school updates, said he believes Havird was a woman of heart and strong faith to start the school with just an idea and prayers.
"This year we have matriculated 620 students with a faculty and staff in excess of 100 people," Bartlett said, adding that Havird attended the school's 50th anniversary convocation ceremony in the fall.
Sharing the word of God to children was a passion for Havird, who was proud of the success of Augusta Christian, said her sister, Connie Havird Skalak.
"She was very humble," Skalak said. "She always gave credit to the Lord. She never took credit for herself."
Havird, a retired director of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Augusta, was active in the day-to-day operations of the school for about 30 years, Bartlett said. Havird served as a member of the school's board of directors until her death.
But Havird was more than the founder of a school to her family. She enjoyed her numerous nieces and nephews, often spending time with them and sharing stories, Skalak said.
"The children were her passion," Skalak said. "She really had a passion to teach all children about Jesus."
Skalak said her children often giggled at Havird, who during regular Sunday lunches at her home would get so caught up in thanking God for the family's many gifts and visitors during the pre-meal blessing that she sometimes forgot to bless the food.
Skalak said Havird was a terrific sister, listener and motivator, and had a knack for making all those around her feel important. But it was Havird's faith that made her a true blessing to those close to her.
"You could always feel the love of God with her," Skalak said. "You could see the love of God with her. It just was effervescent. It just sort of bubbled out, so to speak, from her spirit. ... She was a blessing to everyone."
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