HUNTINGTON — Leslie Deese Garvis was only 6 months old when her father, Danny Deese, charter coordinator for Southern Airways Flight 932, perished among the 75 Thundering Herd teammates, coaches, staff, supporters and flight crew on Nov. 14, 1970. At noon Wednesday, Nov. 14, Garvis will take the stage as keynote speaker for the 48th Memorial Fountain Ceremony on Marshall University's Huntington campus.
Garvis said she has dedicated her life to making sure memories of the 75 live on.
"It is my life's mission to make sure they are never forgotten," Garvis said. "I am honored to have this opportunity to share the story of my father and the five people, who, although not from Huntington or Marshall, are now and forever part of the Marshall family."
Garvis is also the founder of the Southern Flight 932 Memorial 75 Facebook page, which gives others a space to talk about the people who were lost in the crash.
"I love hearing how people know them, hearing their personal memories of them," Garvis said. "That is how we make sure they are never forgotten."
Garvis was born in South Carolina and grew up near Orlando, Florida, not far from where her parents spent their honeymoon. She inherited her father's love of aviation and met her husband, Rick, while working at Orlando International Airport. The couple currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas, where Garvis works as a regulatory and government affairs manager for an independent oil company.
Garvis said she has always felt a connection to the town and the university, even before attending her first Memorial Fountain Ceremony in 2014. As part of the airline crew's family, she said she wasn't sure how she would be received, but soon learned what it means to be part of the Marshall family.
"For those of us who lost family, this ceremony is a source of strength that helps us get through the anniversary every year," Garvis said. "To be able to talk about my father and the Southern family is an honor of a lifetime and a responsibility I take very seriously."
The ceremony honors each of the 75 lost by reading their names and placing a rose on the Memorial Fountain. The fountain is then turned off for the winter during a moment of silence.
Southern Airways Flight 932 was returning from a football game at Eastern Carolina University when the plane went down just outside of the Huntington Tri-State Airport in 1970.
At 7:15 p.m. a crash site vigil is scheduled with a moment of silence accompanied by a special memorial song to be sung by Mike Strickland.
To watch the Memorial Fountain Ceremony via livestream, visit www.marshall.edu/it/livestream.