Members of the local education and historic communities gathered last week as Robinson Elementary dedicated its media center to the memory and life's work of a late friend.
The Charles B. Finley Media Center also features a portrait of its new namesake, as well as a selection of his literary works.
Finley died last July from injuries suffered during a wreck on Hwy. 53. A graduate of Dawson County High School and the University of Georgia, he had taught in the local school system for 42 years.
Finley also was a founding member and former president of the Dawson County Jaycees, the club instrumental in establishing the Mountain Moonshine Festival and the Empty Stocking Fund, now known as K.A.R.E. for Kids.
In addition, Finley authored a book, "Yesterday Once More: A History of the Schools of Dawson County," another on the history of Dawson County basketball and was working on one about the county's history at the time of his death.
Thursday, friends and loved ones gathered in the Robinson gymnasium to remember Finley and his dedication to the community.
"I am blessed to have had Charles in my life. I am a better person because of Charles Finley. Losing Charles is a tragedy," said Roxanne Fausett, the school's principal and a lifelong friend of Finley.
"We grieve the memories of when we lost him, but we cling to the memories of when we had him. Charles was part of my life through all of my ups and downs. But more than that, he was my teacher, my fellow educator, my deacon. But more than that, he was my friend."
Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter said he remembered Finley as the kind of person who always went out of his way to help others.
"Mr. Finley truly felt a calling to make sure that others who made outstanding contributions were appropriately remembered," he said. "Whether it was Dawson County athletics, academics, religion or history, he believed it important that those who came after remembered those who came before."
Kathy Finley, who was injured along with her husband in the crash but has since recovered, was shocked by the naming.
"I was overwhelmed when I first learned they wanted to name the media center after Charles. I was completely overwhelmed," she said. "I know Charles would be completely humbled and honored by this.
"He loved Dawson County. He loved his school and he loved the children."
For those in attendance, the night was bittersweet. While they miss Finley, the ceremony gave them a chance to reflect.
"The ceremony gave us a chance to remember the many, many good times that we had with Mr. Finley, and there was a measure of comfort in knowing that forevermore students, parents and teachers will remember Mr. Finley's contributions through the Charles Finley Media Center," Porter said. "He was a very special man who truly lived up to the philosophy that he wrote on a Teacher of the Year application in 1988.
"He said that his philosophy for education and for life in general was to do as much as he could for as many as he could for as long as he could."