School's arts wing dedicated to teacher killed by drunken driver
Sculpture by Leonard Cave included in memorial
Three years after Northwest High School art teacher Leonard Cave was killed by a drunken driver, the school dedicated its arts wing to the man who students remembered as having a profound impact on their lives.
More than 50 people gathered at the school for the dedication of the Leonard E. Cave Memorial Arts Wing on Sunday. The wing includes a Lucite sculpture by Cave and a colorful mural with Cave's likeness, painted by Janelle Santler. The sculpture is about 4-feet tall and resembles an ice sculpture.
Carolyn Gipe's eyes swelled with tears and her face turned red as she spoke of her late fiancé, who was 61 when he died.
"These have been the most difficult three years of my life," said Gipe, the school's director of choral and general music. "I have senselessly lost the person most dear to me in all the world. There are no words sufficient to express the depth of pain that comes from that kind of loss."
Gipe sustained serious injuries in the July 2006 crash caused by David E. Helms of Bethesda. Helms pleaded guilty to manslaughter by motor vehicle and one count of driving while under the influence in 2007. He is serving seven years in prison.
"While preparing for the dedication, I revisited every memory, everything I hold precious and dear about Lenny," Gipe said. "Going through that kind of process is both emotionally rewarding and heart-rending. I am celebrating the fact that I was deeply blessed to have him in my life at all, while I am also feeling a great sense of despair that he is no longer with us."
Kyle Wassell, 21, of Gaithersburg wanted to be at the dedication but mid-terms at Drexel University kept him in Philadelphia said his mother, Gail Kaplan-Wassell. She said her son, who graduated Northwest in 2006, was the only student to speak at Cave's funeral.
"When he was here, Lenny really ignited an interest in digital art in Kyle," Wassell said. "He was probably one of the most influential people in my son's life."
Cecil Cave, Leonard's eldest brother, said in a phone interview that his brother "loved teaching and he loved his students." Cecil Cave, 75, a retired pastor had religious obligations that prevented him from making the trip from North Carolina for the dedication.
"Most of his [art] went to Furman University where he graduated from," Cecil Cave said. "He was a very talented sculptor."