Bridge named for educator

Family members unveil a sign commemorating the newly named Rosa T. Beard Memorial Bridge at Paine College's Candler Memorial Library and Conference Center. Attendees drove over the bridge at 15th Street that runs over Wrightsboro Road as part of the dedication.

Approximately 29,000 drivers on 15th Street every day will see Rosa T. Beard's name as they drive on the bridge over Wrightsboro Road.

 

That's the number George Bradley gave while speaking at a ceremony Saturday dedicating the overpass in Beard's memory.

"If we celebrated her a month, or even a year, we wouldn't get through all of her accomplishments, or be able to tell how she influenced each of us to become greater," said Bradley, the president of Paine College.

Beard died in December at the age of 89.

As an educator for almost 40 years, Beard taught thousands of young people in Augusta. She founded The Rocket Club for students interested in aeronautics and space, and the Rosa T. Beard Debutante Club to prepare young ladies for adulthood. For 50 years, Beard was active at Antioch Baptist Church in various choirs, as a Sunday school teacher and a trustee. She also was a board member of Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center -- a senior center, food pantry and youth-tutoring facility.

"It's befitting that a bridge be dedicated to someone who was a bridge in so many lives," said Deidre Brown Collins, who attended the ceremony at Paine College. "Her life was dedicated to seeing that others had the opportunity to success."

Beard's youngest daughter, Cheryl, described how much her mother's personal life revolved around locations on 15th Street -- she attended high school at Paine High School, the bulk of her teaching career was at Josey High School, her summer program for high school students was at the Medical College of Georgia, her involvement at Shiloh Community Center, and her preferred grocery store was Kroger.

"Mom would be so pleasantly surprised by this honor. But, it's also special because 15th Street was the arterial connector to where Rosa T. Beard lived and her community," Cheryl Beard said.

The overpass was built in 1991 to ease traffic congestion caused by trains.

More than 100 people filled a room in the Candler Memorial Library and Conference Center at Paine College for the ceremony, which was held indoors to keep people out of the summer heat.

Everyone who attended lined up in their cars and drove over the bridge. Beard's family members were allowed to go over first, while officers with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office halted other traffic.

"My only regret is that she didn't receive this particular flower while she was still living," Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason said.