By Andrea Camarena

On Nov. 23, Francis Richards arrived at the site of his grandson Tony Schadi's grave to find momentos scattered across the 20-year old marker.

The sight was nothing new to Richards. Every year for two decades, he has seen everything from concert tickets to personal letters left on his grandson's grave.

Schadi was tragically killed in a car accident that shook the Exeter community 20 years ago. A student at Porterville College, Schadi was 20 years old when he and four other friends were on their way to cruise Mooney Boulevard in Visalia when the car crashed into several Plum trees on Visalia Road.

The force threw both Schadi and Pat Turley through the rear window of the vehicle just a few minutes after driving away from Turley's Exeter home. Turley was announced dead at the scene, while Schadi passed later that night in a hospital bed. Turley was a recent graduate of Exeter Union High School and a year younger than Schadi and the other passengers in the vehicle that night.

"It was a terrible blow to the community," said Richards.

Shadi and Turley were once teammates on the EUHS baseball team and were part of a close knit group of friends, all recent graduates of the high school.

John McNeil was one of the men who survived the accident.

"Tony's just one of those guys that got along with everyone: the jocks, the cholos, the preps," said close friend John McNeil who still speaks of Schadi in present tense. "He was an athlete but he was just a nice guy."

Perhaps that's why after his tragic death on Nov. 23 1984, the whole town suddenly seemed ripped at the seams. On the day of his funeral, it became apparent that Schadi had left an impression on Exeter. Richards remembers that the high school allowed students to miss school to attend the funeral and what seemed like half of the school walked to the cemetary to attend the services. They had all been affected by Schadi's life and death.

Just last month on the anniversary of the accident, old friends gathered around Schadi and Turley's gravesites. Kevin Kirckman, Keirsten Lamb, Jesus Banuelos, Troy Wing, Greg Stowers, Rick Johnson and John McNeil spent an hour at the cemetary remembering the two lost friends.

"It's neat because most people don't have friendships like we did in high school. And we are all friends because of Tony," said McNeil. "Tony brought everyone together."

Lamb, now, McNeil's brother-in-law, knew Schadi as his partner on the two-man bicycle. Throughout highschool, the pair were championship cyclers. The rest of the group knew Schadi as a teammate as well. After the accident several of Schadi's friends tattooed his nickname, T-Bone, on their bodies. But know one needed a tattoo to remember the young man who was a rolemodel for younger peers as well as the community youth.

Now, through the Tony Schadi Memorial Scholarship, Schadi is still affecting the youth of the Exter community. The $500 scholarship is awarded to an Exeter Union student athlete entering junior college. Every year, Schadi's friends and family hold bunko tournaments to raise the money for the scholarship.

In1985, Shadi and Turley's group of friends formed a competitive softball team in their memory. The Wanderers, all in their 40s, continue to play in city leagues throughout the area.

"This is a comraderie you don't see anymore and it will continue," said Richards of his grandson's friends.

Schadi, buried in his baseball uniform and Turley with a red truck engraved in his marker, are both a far way off from being forgotten in the Exeter community.

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