Jefferson County officials dedicated a bench on Dec. 21 to a woman who was once a fixture at the courthouse but who lost her life to cancer.

Known affectionately as “granny,” Teresa Bonner-Lake was an employee at the Tax Collector’s Office and was a frequent sight at the courthouse.

“After years of service in such a high-stress profession, tension builds, but then comes times like this, when you can come together for one common interest and pay tribute to a very special person. A person that everyone loved and cherished because of her goodwill and ability to make you smile,” Major Lafayette Woods Jr., operations commander at the JCSO and the sheriff-elect, said.

Lake lost her cancer battle on Nov. 16, 2016, at the age of 61. During her memorial service on Nov. 18, 2016, she was remembered by friends, family and co-workers for that ray of sunshine she brought to everyone she encountered during her time here on earth.

Lake’s husband, Jimmy Lake, along with personnel from multiple Jefferson County government offices, including the Sheriff’s Office, Tax Collector, Assessor and 11th Judicial West Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, turned out for the dedication of a bench that’s permanently placed on the grounds of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

The purchase of the bench was made possible through funds paid by sheriff’s deputies during “No Shave November,” a month-long cancer awareness campaign during which deputies were authorized by Sheriff Gerald Robinson to forgo shaving and grooming facial hair in order to evoke conversation and raise cancer awareness in the name of the late Lake.

“Sheriff Robinson has always been reluctant to allow any facial hair beyond a neatly trimmed mustache for deputies,” Woods said.

“This is especially true for those in uniform that encounter citizens daily. Sheriff Robinson’s thoughts in regards to facial hair is that appearance and first impressions matter. Deputies should present themselves in a manner that looks professional. However, when I approached Sheriff Robinson with the idea of having deputies pay $20 for the cause, without further discussion he agreed. The participation of deputies was overwhelming and resulted in an extension of the campaign through December 31st.”

The bench includes an engraved plate provided by Tom Brown of Southeast Engravers with the words, “In Loving Memory of Teresa ‘GRANNY’ Lake August 7, 1955 – November 16, 2016” inscribed on it.

“I appreciate Sheriff Robinson and Sheriff-Elect Lafayette Woods, Jr. for doing this for Teresa, one of our favorite people that we highly, highly miss,” Jefferson County Tax Collector Stephanie Glover Stanton told those present during the unveiling of the bench. “We love her dearly, and we miss her dearly.”

Flowers purchased by Jimmy Lake were also placed on the bench, adding to the tribute.

Robinson closed the event by saying, “I think it goes without saying how important Teresa was to all of us. Those employees that have been around for a while such as Teresa, formed a bond like family. We were employed together and experienced professional growth while working for Jefferson County.

“Teresa was always jubilant and smiling. She always had something good to say. We had some of our fondest times during the Association of Arkansas Counties annual conferences, where Teresa was the circle of attention with her dance moves. She was one dancing sister. Today’s tribute was about Teresa and her battle with cancer disease. It was important for us to do this and as a family within Jefferson County.

“I thought it was befitting to give recognition to someone who was so important to us and although it’s unfortunate that Teresa lost her battle with cancer, memories of her live on.”