WARNER ROBINS -- Deloris Toliver lived a short life that ended tragically almost 38 years ago, but she is far from forgotten.
City Council on Monday agreed to rename Sewell Circle Park after her. Her name was put on the community center there in the early 1980s.
Alvin Robinson, who lives near the park, wasn't related to Toliver but took up the cause of having the park renamed for her. He asked the council for the change because to him, it didn't make sense to have the building named for her but not the park.
The council agreed, and Toliver's family members were appreciative. More than a dozen of them attended the council meeting when the change was approved, effective immediately.
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Robinson grew up with her.
"She was a real nice girl," he said. "She was sweet. She would help any kid that needed help."
Toliver had just turned 18 and was a senior at Northside High School when she was killed in a fire on July 23, 1978. She was living in a home near the park, where she volunteered at the community center.
Family members said the fire started accidentally and that Toliver was burned saving her nephew from the fire. Her nephew survived, but Toliver succumbed to her injuries.
She had been a frequent volunteer at the park's center and was the first president of the center's youth group.
Toliver's sister, Dorothy Dodson, was among the family members who attended Monday's meeting.
"Deloris was very outgoing," Dodson said.
Theresa Everette, Toliver's cousin, was on the scene when she came out of the burning house. Toliver died two days later at the Augusta Burn Center.
"She always kept a smile on her face, and she liked to be in a lot of activities," Everette said. "She went to that center every day."
The park has newly repaved basketball courts, a swimming pool, a baseball field and a playground.
Councilman Clifford Holmes also knew Toliver and made the motion to approve the change.
"I feel like it's a good move to give people some recognition," he said.
However, it might not be so easy to get the city to change a name in the future. Council members expressed concerns about the door they might be opening, and they discussed coming up with a name-change policy, which could involve creating a committee to look at any requests.
Holmes said he thinks the city should consider following the school board's policy of not naming buildings for people, due to disagreements that can arise as a result. Council members said they had no problem with renaming the park because it was originally named after the street around it, not another person. They also made clear they would be much more reluctant to change a street name, because that would change people's addresses.
"We need some guidelines," said Councilman Mike Davis. "We are changing this one because it's easy, but what happens when it's not easy?"
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.