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JC Wall of Fame inductees grow to four

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Nov 14, 2017 at 7:38 PM

It started out Tuesday afternoon that three new members were going to be inducted into the Johnson City Parks and Rec Wall of Fame.

After an emotional luncheon, the number was increased to four with Bill Francisco, Jacob Francisco, Scott Lusk and Jeremy Stevens as the newest inductees.

Bill Francisco gave a speech explaining there was a sense of guilt about going into the Wall of Fame. His work with the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Johnson City School Board, Johnson City Commission, Boone Watershed Partnership and the local community to develop a 28-acre environment education park known as Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek certainly merited the honor.

But, Francisco said the credit had to go to his late son, Jacob, for whom the park off King Springs Road is named. Jacob Francisco was a healthy six-year-old boy who loved the outdoors when he started showing flu-like symptoms.

The family later learned he had an E.Coli infection and he lost 30 percent of kidney function due to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. The infection spread to every organ of his body and Jacob soon died. Since then, through Jacob’s project and the park, Bill Francisco and his family have worked to make the public more aware of how an E.coli bacteria infects a human and that it’s the No. 1 cause of renal kidney failure in America.

“It all goes back to June 2004,” Francisco said. “One day riding in the back seat, Jacob announced out of the blue to his mom, ‘I’m going to be famous. I’m going to be on the cover of magazines.’ The media called after he died and I didn’t want to talk to them. My wife reminded me that Jacob said he was going to be famous. I shared information with hopes that Jacob would be famous for saving lives.”

Through the family’s efforts and the ETSU College of Medicine coming together to recognize E-Coli dangers, over $40,000 was raised for lecturers at ETSU over a five-year span. In 2011, they switched gears to work with the Parks & Rec department and Boone Watershed for the environmental educational park.

Since then, they’ve raised over $30,000 through bike rides and charity walks. Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris, ETSU’s Department of Sustainability and the Sinking Creek Neighborhood joined together to help raise $12,000 for infrastructure development.

“It’s all inspired by a six-year-old boy,” Bill Francisco said. “The park talks about how Jacob appreciated nature. I am honored to go forward and share Jacob’s story. The park isn’t done. There’s still work to be done. Get inspired.”

The powerful emotional speech inspired the selection committee to vote unanimously to add Jacob along with his father on this year’s list of inductees.

Lusk, a lifelong Johnson City resident and a 1973 graduate of Science Hill, was recognized for his work with Johnson City Little League.

He literally grew up in the system, playing in the Johnson City Major Little League on Coach Arthur Lady’s American Legion team from 1965-68. The 1968 team won the league championship.

As an adult, Lusk joined the Johnson City Major Little League as a coach and served on the board of directors. Most recently, he served as vice president. He was instrumental in getting the two Johnson City Major League ball fields named, Arthur Lady Field and Arrowood-Mashburn Field after Kenny Arrowood and John Mashburn.

His son, Joe, played on Coach Lady’s last team in 2004. Through Lusk’s volunteer efforts, he’s been involved in many upgrades and renovations to the fields and the concessions areas.

“I’ve worked with John, Billy (Hutton), Kenny Arrowood and others down there,” Lusk said. “There have been times when I’ve seen them ill and hardly able to get to the ball park. I learned from their examples.”

Several learned from the example of Stevens, known throughout the area for the wide smile on his face. He worked passionately with Science Hill’s basketball programs with coaches George Pitts and Mike Poe, and served many years as a dedicated worker for Herb Greenlee at Carver Recreation Center.

He had taken over as a dedicated employee at Daniel Boone High School’s Janitorial Services when he was killed in a tragic accident in 2015. His sister, Shamus Stevens, said the family is thrilled to have her brother among this year’s inductees.

“It fills our hearts and lets us know he was here for a special reason,” Shamus Stevens said. “He lived his life well. He was just a special person, you saw his heart, his smile. He just cared about everybody around him.”

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