One of West Friendship’s brightest lights was dimmed on Dec. 12, when Linda Chrest passed away unexpectedly.
I venture to state that no other single person has had a greater influence of good on our community then Chrest, who, as an educator for more than four decades at West Friendship Elementary, served as the greatest of examples for the children of West Friendship.
Her sudden passing brought forth a torrent of emotions from those who had experienced the joy of knowing her.
Chrest was a lively presence, a devoted daughter to her late mother Mary Chrest; the biggest fan of Snoopy; a lover of dogs, especially her own Annabel and Gabby; a stylish gal who always sported her signature blonde bob; and back in the day, a self-professed addict of the long running soap opera "All My Children."
In retirement, Chrest often attended plays, concerts and programs in which her former students were performers.
I daresay that most young adults in our area were taught their ABCs and One Two Three’s from the enthusiastic Chrest.
When the doors of West Friendship Elementary closed for dismissal on June 19, 2015, there were many tears flowing. After more years than anyone could recall, Chrest retired.
“Miss Chrest” and West Friendship Elementary have become synonymous with all that is good about public education. My own adult children were the lucky recipients of Chrest, as both a first -and third-grade teacher, during the 1980s. Her natural love of the students, her amazing ability to listen, discern and hone in on just what each student needed — these are just a few of the stellar attributes which made her one of the finest teachers ever to grace the halls of our local school.
Not a year went by when Linda didn’t dress up for the Halloween parade, or shower the children with treats during field days or festival events or teach them to count, to read, to punctuate and ask questions.
Many local residents can claim scrapbooks filled with Chrest’s personal and handwritten thank you notes. Such a star is hard to find and we, as a community, have been more than blessed with this woman, Chrest, who devoted herself to our children.
Teaching is what she was meant to do and she did it right. All of the children in our community were Chrest’s children. Many of her students have gone on to amazing careers and accomplishments and still keep in touch. And many of her original students now have kids of their own, who were lucky enough to be in her classroom at West Friendship.
Over the past 40 years, much has changed in our little community. One thing that stayed the same was the continuity and assurance of the likes of Linda Chrest. We bid a fond farewell to this absolute gem of our community and send prayers and blessings to her grieving family. Lovely Linda. Then, now and always.