A day before Bobby Seawright Jr. would have turned 28, relatives and former Columbus High School classmates gathered at the campus Saturday to plant a tree to remember the popular student.
Angela and Bobby Seawright Sr., parents of the student, joined more than 60 people at 1700 Cherokee Ave. to plant a white oak six months after a teen charged in his death was found not guilty of murder. Seawright, 25, was shot to death on Dec. 17, 2016 at the intersection of Branton Woods Drive and Branton Lane after dropping off a friend.
“It’s just amazing after two years of agony and getting nothing done about it, this is a little comfort,” Angela said. “I appreciate what the kids are doing. I appreciate the school.”
She said her son would have turned 28 on Sunday if he were still alive. “He was a very quiet kid,” she said. “He was a loner so he started taking on kids that others wouldn’t hang out with. I watched him blossom just like a butterfly.”
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The mother hopes the tree will be like her son who was taught to look at a person’s heart to know them. “It starts small but as its roots get strong, it’s going to blossom,” she said. “That’s why he was such a social butterfly.”
Shailee Griffis was a grade behind Seawright in high school but they became close friends after he graduated in 2009 and both attended Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. He was studying sports medicine and close to graduation before the shooting.
Griffis said she started organizing the tree planting after the July 23, 2018 verdict was returned. “I just wanted to do something to bring smiles to everyone’s face as opposed to the tragic loss and the verdict,” she said, wearing a t-shirt with a photo and the letters “RIH Bobby” for “Rest in Heaven.”
Now a teacher at Kendrick High School, Griffis said she will remember how wonderful Bobby was when she looks at the tree.
Dorothy McDaniel of Trees Columbus was on hand for the memorial to Seawright.
“Some days Trees Columbus will plant 100 trees and some days, we just plant one,” she said. “It’s such an honor for us to plant this one. This is Bobby’s tree.”
After losing their only child, the Seawrights called on all to do whatever they can to teach young children. “Our kids only know what we teach them,” the father said. “We’ve got to find a way to help our young people. “
And there is no cause for violence, Angela said. “I wish it all would stop. We try to make the best of what you have.”