First United Presbyterian Church

Harry Vandergriff’s Crosses

Many of the crosses at FUPC are hand carved from wood, and many of those hand carved crosses were made by Harry Vandergriff. Harry Vandergriff was a member of FUPC for more than fifty years, serving as an elder and volunteer in multiple areas of church life until his death in 2012.

Harry served in World War II as an airman and received both the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he went to the University of Arkansas and became a public school teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Fayetteville. He served as a football coach at Fayetteville High School, rising to Head Coach, assistant superintendent, and then Superintendent of Fayetteville Schools.

Harry was involved in the desegregation of Fayetteville High and was known for his passionate commitment to excellence in the schools. He was inducted into the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation’s Hall of Fame and Vandergriff Elementary school was named after him.

Among the many crosses Harry carved, he is particularly remembered for the beautiful Presbyterian crosses he made for each of the graduating high school seniors in the church.

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