DUNCAN — Alyssa Wiles had a bench dedicated in her honor outside the Simmons Center on Sunday.
Among those speaking were Duncan Mayor Gene Brown, Wiles’ dance teacher Stephanie Gregston and her pastor Steven Gillspie. They spoke about Wiles’ life, which was cut short in June when she was stabbed to death at the age of 14. An ex-boyfriend, Michael Anthony Ray was arrested two days later and stands charged with murder in the first degree.
Wiles legacy remains at the Heartbeat Dance Studio, where a scholarship has been made in her honor. At the cermony Sunday, a fundraiser was held to raise money for the scholarship. Just having completed eighth grade at Duncan Middle School, Wiles was an avid dancer.
“She left a lot of good memories,” Brown said. “For those of you here, she’ll always be dancing with you.”
Gillispie, who has been the pastor of Parkview Baptist Church for the past eight years, spoke about the difficulty of moving past tragic occurences like these.
“Thinking of what’s happened, it’s easy to dwell in sorrow,” Gilllispie said. “But as a pastor, I’m here to dwell in joy.”
He pointed to the joy that Wiles shared with everyone. He talked of her love of dance, and her participation in the church. Before quoting Scripture, he reached out to the crowd gathered at the bench memorial, saying the important thing is to celebrate Wiles’ life.
“I’m not saying that we can ever forget what has happened, but we’re here to celebrate the good,” Gillespie said.
Gregston, who runs the Heartbreak Dance Studio, directed Wiles for five years. At the ceremony, Gregston spoke about the sanctity of young life, and how tragic it was that Wiles’ was cut short.
Her closing remarks were, “Gone too soon, Alyssa. We honor your life, gone too soon.”