Former students, fellow teachers, friends and family of Cynthia Pool gathered June 13 near Taylor Pool for a tribute to the fallen educator.
Pool, a respected Payson High School chemistry teacher for the past three years, died June 9 after being struck and killed by a tractor-trailer near Lander, Wyo.
At the time of her death, Pool, 46, was on a trans-American cycling trip with her close friend Margaret Starnes.
Cynthia’s husband, Roy, was on the trip in a support vehicle.
Early Saturday morning, after hearing of the tragic accident days earlier, the crowd gathered at Taylor not only for the annual town-sponsored Sprint Triathlon that Pool had previously competed in, but also for a tribute that had been organized by lifeguards.
Most of the guards had been former students of Pool in her advanced placement chemistry classes at PHS.
One of those former pupils, Rachel Ward, wrote and then read a stirring memoir just minutes prior to the start of the triathlon.
She admittedly was shaken by the highly emotional event.
“I kept taking deep breaths and thinking I really had it together,” she said. “But then I was told Mrs. Pool’s husband was in the crowd and that kind of shook me up.”
Roy Pool and Starnes had driven to Payson the night before from Wyoming.
What occurred after the tribute were precious moments that Ward will remember forever.
“After I read (the tribute, Roy Pool) walked up, put his arm around me and whispered, ‘She loved you,’” said Ward. “I really could not talk much after that.”
In Ward’s remembrance of Cynthia Pool, she characterized the teacher as inspirational in creating a better tomorrow for her students.
She also told the audience, “Cynthia showed us all the way to live — you can’t go through life not doing what you love. And Cynthia never hesitated to do what she loved and most importantly, share share what she loved.”
Ward then introduced the “Racing for Cynthia” team that was entered in the sprint triathlon.
The memorial team was made up of Payson High School students Jordan Avery and Lucy Schouten as well as Rim Country Middle School teacher Scott Davidson.
Avery and Schouten were once students of Cynthia Pool and Davidson was a friend and fellow cycling enthusiast.
Ward later called for a moment of silence in remembrance of the fallen teacher.
The Cycling for Cynthia team lived up to the success Pool had enjoyed during her cycling, running and triathlon career by racing to a first-place finish in 1:15.18, about three minutes ahead of the runner-up threesome.
At the start of the race, Roy Pool and Starnes hooked up with local triathlete Carolyn Fruth, a close friend of Cynthia’s, who calls her a huge inspiration, mentor and role model.
“If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have never entered the Boston Marathon,” Fruth said. “She was so good at everything she did and she made me want to excel, be the best I could be.”
Starnes ran with Fruth the entire running portion of the triathlon and Roy Pool ran segments of it.
The two’s presence was motivational for Fruth, a mother of two teenage daughters.
“It really did help having them there, it was kind of an emotional lift,” said Fruth who was admittedly drained from the loss of her friend.
Also in the triathlon field to honor the former educator was Payson High School principal Roy Sandoval.
Like most of those who knew Cynthia Pool, he confessed to being, “deeply distressed at the loss of an outstanding teacher, professional colleague, riding buddy and a friend.”
A celebration of Cynthia Pool’s life will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 17 in the Payson High School auditorium.