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Mural dedicated to longtime volunteer at Tucson elementary school

Posted at 12:56 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 21:33:19-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Sereslinda McGee's third grade class sounds just like you would expect on a Friday morning.

The students are huddled together, excited about some new books in the corner.

The reading area in Mrs. McGee's class at Warren Elementary School looks different this year though. Like the one in the famous children's book, there's now a "giving tree" on the wall in honor of a man who gave so much to students.

"He never saw himself as the limelight, it was all about the child," McGee said. "It was all about the children."

She's talking about John Langley. He read to kids every day at school before he passed away at the age of 91 last November.

Mr. Langley was a volunteer for ten years in Tucson Unified schools.

"He would come in in the morning and he would do his exercises," said his wife Nina Allen-Langley. "And he just loved reading to the children."

Allen-Langley got to be there for the mural dedication. It's called "Mr. Langley's Reading Corner." She said John was a spiffy dresser, was a lot of fun to be around, and he would have loved the artwork.

"One of the things I was thinking about him was that in his family prayer, he was always very mindful of the needs of others," Allen-Langley said. "And that I think carried over into his life."

The mural was done by Mrs. McGee's son. It includes a tree, flowers, and a butterfly that is meant to represent Mr. Langley. Mrs. McGee's appreciation for him went well beyond the classroom walls.

A few months before he died, Mr. Langley walked McGee down the aisle and gave her away at her wedding.

"When I see the tree mural, I see that love and compassion and it just reminds me yes of course I miss him," McGee said. "I miss him dearly, but I do know that he is here."

A spokesperson for the Tucson Unified School District says when Langley died, instead of flowers money was donated to the school so the class could buy new books.