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Friends pitch in for memorial

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By Shaina Stockton

In 2006, Gazette reporter Christopher Brooke snapped a photo of 15-year-old Jamie Lineberry of Hillsville, airborne on his skateboard.

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There, his friends and family say, was his favorite place to be — in the air, with his trusty board beneath him.

That same photo is just one of the ways his loved ones now keep him immortalized in their hearts.

On Oct. 22, 2013, Jamie was involved in a car accident on Fancy Gap Mountain, which claimed his life at age 22. Following the accident, the family arranged his burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, where they memorialized him with a headstone with several pictures, including the one of him on his skateboard. But, in the months that followed his death, Jamie’s friends wanted to do more to remember him.

On July 12, the group gathered at Jamie’s grave see the fruits of their labor for the first time — a memorial foot marker that was purchased through the combined efforts of the group.

“I didn’t really know [Jamie] like you guys did, but I heard about him through my daughter… he was always referred to me as ‘the dude with the skateboard,’” said Glenda Hall, co-owner of Mountain High Memorials in Fancy Gap.

Hall was shocked when the group first filed into her office and emptied the money from their pockets to purchase the marker. “When you first came into my office, and we started talking about this… it touched my heart, and it has touched the community’s heart,” she told them.

Over the course of several weeks, Hall accepted money and signatures from friends all over the community to complete the piece. When it was finished, a total of 37 signatures were etched on the marker.

Hall uncovered the signatures for the first time, and the group reacted with a mixture of tears and smiles. Tammy Akers, Jamie’s mother, knelt down and ran her hand over some of the names on the stone. She thanked the group for their effort in adding something to the grave.

One of Jamie’s friends explained that the stone was one of the ways that the group had thought of to pay their friend tribute, and find an outlet for their grief. “None of us were ready to say goodbye,” she said.

After the unveiling, the group stuck around and shared memories of Jamie with one another. “He was the kind of guy who could not skate for two years, and then get right back on the board and show us all up,” one friend said. Others laughed and nodded in agreement.

Hall commented on the strong dynamic that was shown by everyone involved in the project. “This is what a true community does,” she said. “To see a group like this come together… it’s inspiring.”