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Commemorating 25 Years of Service Nabors Service League continues to honor the late Jonathan Nabors ’02 by bringing students together to help the greater Rockbridge area.

DSC09520-scaled-600x400 Commemorating 25 Years of Service

For 25 years, Eddie Nabors and his wife, Doris, have traveled to Washington and Lee from Birmingham, Alabama, to honor their late son, Jonathan Nabors ’02, on Nabors Service Day. On March 8, the day before Nabors Service Day’s 25th anniversary, Jonathan’s memorial plaque was rededicated next to Mattingly House, and Eddie Nabors knew exactly what he wanted to share with the crowd gathered to honor the impact his son has made on W&L and the surrounding community.

“Washington and Lee is exactly the right place to memorialize him,” Eddie Nabors said. “He loved this place more than I can explain to you. After a college visit tour during his junior year of high school, he knew this was where he belonged; this was it.”

After participating in the university’s Summer Scholars program in high school, Jonathan couldn’t picture his future without Washington and Lee. He wore a W&L tie even before his acceptance, and when it became official, he called his Summer Scholars friends to persuade them to join the class of 2002.

“I’m an introvert,” said his first-year year suitemate Claiborne Taylor ’02. “I’ve always found it hard to meet new people initially and find my place in our group. Jonathan seemed to know everybody in our first-year class, and when it was clear that I had no idea where the cool party was the first week of school, rather than him sneaking off and just falling back in with those old Summer Scholar friends, he invited me along and welcomed me into that group. Some of those people I still call friends today.”

Jonathan and his 15-year-old sister, Leah, died on Jan. 3, 1999, in a car accident on their way to campus following winter break. The class of 2002 organized the first Nabors Service Day on Mother’s Day weekend in 1999 to honor Jonathan’s memory and continue his legacy of building community.

Shepherd_nabors_Jonathan-1-400x600 Commemorating 25 Years of ServiceThe Nabors Service League was named in honor of Jonathan Nabors ’02.

“He was just such a bright light, so community-oriented and would draw people in,” said Stacy McLoughlin Taylor ’02. “That spirit of wanting to be with others, looking out for others and making sure that everyone around him just felt good—I think [creating a service day] just spoke to his character.”

Over 170 first-year students participated on that inaugural day, helping with the food pantry for Rockbridge Area Relief Association (RARA), Yellow Brick Road Early Learning Center, Boxerwood Gardens and a Big Buddy/Little Buddy field day.

“It was a hard, long winter,” Claiborne Taylor said. “And it just felt to me like spring personified—like turning a corner, being together and doing something meaningful.”

The student body decided to put forth a continual effort of service that extended beyond one day, and the following fall, the Nabors Service Day transformed into the Nabors Service League (NSL).

“I get a phone call from Stacy wanting to know if it was OK to name a service league after Jonathan,” Eddie Nabors said. “I got off the phone and cried.”

“It was the energy and excitement coming out of the day; people were yearning and had ideas for more,” Stacy Taylor said. “It just started to come together over time into something that people wanted to continue on a regular basis, both the community and being together and [also] meeting people across the Rockbridge area.”

Whether in a leadership role or as a participant, NSL blossomed into a means for students to become acquainted with the area and its community organizations and remains an avenue for students to learn beyond the confines of campus.

“I just really enjoyed getting out of Lexington, getting into a different community and working with kids,” said Lee Lester ’02, who volunteered through NSL at elementary schools in the area. “It balanced a lot of the other things that I was doing while in college, and I wouldn’t have done that otherwise.”

Witnessing W&L student involvement with NSL over the years inspired Eddie Nabors in his professional life when he became an accounting professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition to teaching accounting classes, he crafted a course related to poverty, a portion of which specifically focuses on filing tax returns for low-income families, and has served as an adviser to UAB’s service-focused Beta Alpha Psi accounting honor society.

“My involvement at W&L, our involvement here, changed me,” Eddie Nabors said. “I’ve taught some classes; I’ve done some things that impacted people’s lives that I would never have done without my involvement here. W&L made me a better person, and I’m so grateful for that.”

DSC09440-600x400 Commemorating 25 Years of ServiceW&L President William Dudley, Stacy McLoughlin Taylor ’02, Claiborne Taylor ’02, Eddie Nabors, Doris Nabors, Katie Yurechko ’24, Jenny Sproul Davidson ’08 and Lee Lester ’02 celebrated Jonathan Nabors ’02 with the rededication of his plaque on March 8 outside of Mattingly House.

Focus on Helping Others

In the 25 years since that initial Nabors Service Day, the Nabors Service League has joined together thousands of students in their passion for community engagement. NSL is now organized into four committees: Good Nabors, educational programming, alternative breaks and local service.

Good Nabors, a first-year cohort, was established in 2019 under the Nabors Service League to offer a more defined pathway to service for incoming first-years. The program also helps new students connect to like-minded individuals before they even attend their first class.

SOC050213_08-600x400 Commemorating 25 Years of ServiceDaphine Mugayo ’15, Andrew Hughes (VMI) and Jeff Wieand ’13L build a patio at Waddell Elementary School during the 2013 Nabors Service Day.

The Educational Programming Committee plans events and panels where alumni speak on their engagement with service. The Alternative Breaks Committee organizes trips beyond Rockbridge County where students can assist local agencies in other communities. During this year’s Washington Break, NSL students traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they stayed with alumni and worked with Beds for Kids, Crisis Assistance Ministry and Project 658. NSL’s Local Service Committee conducts outreach to area organizations to determine their volunteer needs and connect students to local volunteer opportunities.

NSL President Katie Yurechko ’24 was thankful to be able to utilize her computer science major and explore her passion of technology and addressing social injustice, culminating in a tech equity series.

“Nabors Service League has really allowed me to take that passion and turn it into something that’s not just a little thing that I worked through in my mind, but it’s something that’s really impactful for the community,” she said. “I got to give a talk about what tech equity means and contact alumni to bring them in to talk about how they use technology for good and healthcare and all these different areas that are important in society.”

While the weather limited some of the projects planned for the 25th Nabors Service Day on March 9, students nevertheless helped throughout the area. They worked at assisted-living facility Heritage Hall, Rockbridge Regional Library, RARA and Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s a constant reminder to value serving others,” Yurechko said, “to value finding those opportunities, taking that time on your Saturday morning or afternoon to go do work that’s important.”

Jenny Sproul Davidson ’08’s involvement with NSL started during her own undergraduate time at W&L, and she now works to impart those same meaningful experiences as the associate director of the Shepherd Program. In her current role, Davidson serves as the organization’s adviser, helping NSL student leaders with planning, logistics and outreach.

“I have many happy memories of Nabors Service Days and an alternative break trip during my college years,” said Davidson. “Advising the Nabors Service League, connecting students with communities near and far, and continuing to honor Jonathan’s legacy on campus is an absolute privilege. I am grateful that Eddie and Doris continue to make the trip to campus to connect with our student leaders.”

For Jonathan’s classmates, their friendships with him and experiences through NSL remain with them today, whether in their professions or charity and board work.

NaborsSvcDay_100210_029-scaled-e1710864358779-600x400 Commemorating 25 Years of ServiceFor 25 years, Nabors Service League has united students with a joint passion for community betterment.

“While here at W&L, we learned about the power of doing small things and big things, and doing it with intention and with thoughtfulness,” Stacy Taylor said.

In the decades that followed their graduation, Jonathan’s classmates continue to be amazed by the powerful ways their friend still brings people together and the ways his character, embodied in NSL, flourishes in new ways with students who never even met him.

“The spirit of Jonathan, someone who loved this place and wanted to do right and wanted to be inclusive of lots of people, I think NSL carries that out, and it’s gone beyond what it originally was,” Claiborne Taylor said. “And that’s what the best ideas are: You allow people the space and time to take it and continue to adapt it.”