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Ehren Fish memorial garden blooms

Ag Science I students create fitting tribute for beloved teacher's son.

Ag Science I work crew pose with teacher Heather Dyk.

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Last May, Heather Dyk’s  Ag Science I class put their knowledge and skills to work designing and planting the Ehren Fish Memorial Garden at the home of retired Linden High English teacher Muriel Fish. Today the garden is beautiful and full of life.

African daisies line the fence. Weed mat and drip irrigation keep weeds down.

Muriel and her husband Patrick Fish lost their son Ehren Fish last year to the hands of a drunk driver.

Ehren Fish graduated from Linden High School in 2001. A talented and gifted young man, he was involved in theater arts, ACE, and Jazz Band as the tech, sound, and light technician. He was known as “tech man” by the students and faculty and got his love for electronics when his Dad started his own business. When teachers would have computer problems, they would often call Ehren. After high school, Ehren went on to study at San Francisco State University. He worked some time as a security camera technician in jails across the state of California, and then went back to school at CSU, Stanislaus and majored in business. Ehren was killed just a month or two before his college graduation; CSUS awarded him his degree posthumously.

Garden gets lots of sun and endured record-breaking temperatures this summer.

Ehren touched the lives of everyone who knew him, and his death left friends and loved ones wanting to find ways to honor him and support his family.

LHS alumnus Megan Woods generously donated $500 to build a memorial in honor of Ehren.

In a letter she wrote to Linden FFA about the donation, Woods said,  “With this small monetary donation, I ask that flowers be planted in her [Muriel’s] garden on Ehren’s behalf.”

The Fishes, Career Center Coordinator Pam Knapp, and Ag Science teacher Heather Dyk all met to discuss what would be built with the donation, and the Fishes decided that a garden be built.  Over the course of the school year, Dyk’s Ag Science I class planned out how to build the garden from scratch.

Limes are set on tree given to the Fish family by the Community Theatre of Linden in memory of Ehren.

According to Dyk, the Ag Science class did a great job listening to their clients to create a garden with the little landscaping knowledge they had. The class took a field trip to the Fish home to begin construction.  The garden included palm trees, African daisies,  and hydrangeas.

The flowers chosen were inspired by a challenge Ehren had posted on his Facebook page.

“This challenge was about photographing the beauty of nature, and he would always choose flowers,” said Fish.

All other plants used, such as the Citrus tree and the Azaleas, were plants that friends had given the family after Ehren was killed.

When the students were there building, their primary goal was to finish all the irrigation and prep the soil for planting. They then began to move on to planting the bigger plants such as the lime trees and palm trees.

The Fishes were so touched by the students working on the project.

“It was the coolest thing ever,” said Fish. “They are all kids I came to know through subbing. They were all really sensitive, ask[ing] compassionate questions which created this moment–happy and sad.”

Ag Science I work crew pose with teacher Heather Dyk.

During construction, Fish baked the students cookies to reward them for their hard work. After the work day was over, the students and the Fishes gathered in their backyard to enjoy pizza.

“It was really cool to have pizza and chill with the kids and hear about what their plans for after high school are” said Fish.

“It was a sensitive project with the feelings involved, and I felt our students handled it well,” said Dyk.

Students felt very honored to be a part of such a wonderful project. Haven Hendly stated, “I loved the idea of being able to honor Mrs. Fish’s son in a way that would bring them joy.”

“I think that building it for the Fish family was an amazing thing we could do for them to remember her son,” said senior Caylie Kobernick. “I know we definitely felt honored to be able to do this to remember her son in such a joyful and creative way.”

Garden bed prepped and ready to go!

Natives of the state of Washington, Muriel and Patrick Fish built an adventurous life together, once living on a sailboat for 7 years. Ehren was born in Juneau, Alaska. The Fishes came to Linden when Muriel’s Father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, deciding it was best to stay near their family. Muriel went on to go to the University of the Pacific to get her teaching credential. Patrick started his own business in high security electronic equipment for jails and hospitals. Muriel began teaching in 1993 at Linden High School and retired in 2008. Not truly retired, Muriel subbed for 8 years almost everyday, a well-loved sub among the students in Linden Unified.

Ehren will be remember fondly by all who knew him.

“Ehren was a Linden High student during my first years teaching here,” said English teacher Kimberly Merenda. “Though I did not have the pleasure of having Ehren as a student, he made quite an impression as he was such a mature, giving young man that I think he inspired many of us around him to want to be our best selves.”

Ehren’s selfless, giving nature is perhaps best summed up in a memory his mother shared with the court: “He always went out of his way to help anyone in need…[and] once invited a young man from his church to a birthday BBQ at our home.  The gentleman kept remarking how incredible

Irene Duran
Ag students learn by doing!

the experience was and how amazing he felt to be included in Ehren’s celebration.  I asked him where he lived, and he replied, ‘The homeless shelter.’ Ehren had picked him up from the shelter before the party and returned him afterward with a trunk load of his own donated clothes.”

The Fishes are keeping Ehren’s giving spirit alive with a memorial scholarship for LHS students to honor Ehren. In 2016, the recipient was Curtis Horn, and in 2017, the recipient was Jamai Grijalva.

And six months later, Ehren’s memorial garden flourishes.  With the weed mat and drip irrigation the students put in, Fish has had to pull very few weeds. The garden is blooming and full of life, a fitting tribute for a very special young man.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. ” -Mr. Rogers

 

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Ehren Fish memorial garden blooms”

  1. Muriel and Pat Fish on October 6th, 2017 7:15 pm

    Oh, Irene! We can’t even express how awesome we feel your article is. It expresses exactly the right balance between the students’ contribution and involvement, our sense of loss, the feeling of community of Linden and a tribute to our son. It even offers the opportunity to contibute to his scholarsihip fund. Well done!

  2. Irene Duran on October 6th, 2017 9:27 pm

    I am so glad you thought so. Thank you so much for taking time to read my article and have an interview with me.

  3. Muriel and Pat Fish on October 7th, 2017 8:01 pm

    We are so lucky to have these wonderful young people in our lives. Every one of our crew were respectful, but beyond that, loving. They understood the sensitive nature of the project. We, as parents will never “get over” or even ever “come to grips” with our loss. The empathy we felt from our garden creators helped us get through a very difficult task of creating a memorial to our son. Yes, we still cry. The garden gives us comfort in that it reinforces the idea that, when things go really badly, there are helpers. Our Linden students have been our helpers. We thank them.

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