KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two years after Alvin Ault’s death, students at St. Joseph School in North Knoxville are still honoring the memory of the joyful man who always had a smile for the students.
Ault, a maintenance worker at St. Joseph, was killed outside his home on August 25, 2021 when he was hit by a vehicle that left the road on Cedar Lane. Principal Andy Zengel described Ault as a humble and joyful man with a grandfatherly personality.
“He would say his job was to cut the grass and make the school look good, but he was, you know, in and around the school would have a smile for the students and was just a good man. And so every every year, on the anniversary of his death, he was a huge Vols fan, so we always want to do an orange out and the students get to come out of their normal uniform and wear orange to memorialize Alvin,” Zengel said.
Ault’s wife, Vickie, still works at St. Joseph’s cafeteria and aftercare, and their daughter and son-in-law help out with maintenance. While Vickie was unable to be at the school to see the students decked out in orange, Zengel said he sent her pictures and she is very thankful to the community.
Zengel explained that the school is small and well connected. They are a family that has been drawn even closer since Ault’s death.
“This tragedy has just strengthened those bonds of family, so we just we just love… We love remembering him in in all those different ways. His house and the school are separated by our soccer field, which he always took care of. And so last year in his memory we we put up an arch and dedicated the field, The Alvin Ault Memorial Field. So just everywhere you look on campus, there’s something that reminds us of of Mr. Alvin,” Zengel said.
The students have also taken more measures to try to ensure that another tragedy like Ault’s death does not happen again. Zengel said the Student Council petitioned the city last year to install a guard rail along Cedar Lane to prevent more accidents from happening.
Zengel explained that the home where Ault lived is near a sharp turn after a straightaway, and there have been multiple accidents in that area over the years. The latest, he said, was in November of 2022 and happened around 7:05 a.m., just before parents begin dropping off their children. The driver went off the side of the road near where Ault was killed and went through the soccer field fence before hitting the corner of the playground fence, Zengel said.
“If that accident had happened in the middle of the day, our children are playing in the playground, they’re playing on the soccer field. It could have been much more devastating,” Zengel said. “I think at least along the soccer field frontage of of the road, it’s it’s important to have the children protected with a guardrail and that’s something we hope the city can help us with.”
Although that a guardrail has not been installed yet, Zengel explained that the city has lowered the speed limit on Cedar Lane along the school’s frontage.