East Ward Elementary mural

East Ward Elementary School students walk by a mural depicting 150 years of Texas history from 1836 to 1986 in celebration of the sesquicentennial year. The mural was created by Demser Owens, an employee of the Killeen Independent School District, who died recently.

A certain work of art within the Killeen Independent School District will not be preserved when the school it sits inside is demolished.

Greeting those who walk into East Ward Elementary School is a mural in which Texas history from 1836 to 1986 is depicted.

The mural was painted by Demser Owens, an Ohio native who worked as a custodian at the school in the 1980s. It took Owens and his wife, Ramona, three months to complete the project in 1986.

Owens died Sept. 29. The mural represents a connection to Owens for those who knew him. His family donated a plaque to East Ward after his death.

East Ward, however, will be demolished as part of the $426 million bond construction program voters approved last year in May. Construction of a new elementary school, merging West and East Ward Elementary schools, will serve a projected 1,050 students. The project costs $44 million in bond money.

Terry Abbott, chief communication officer, said the district will not physically preserve the mural, but will make an effort to keep it in memory.

“We are memorializing it with pictures and have invited community members who want to take pictures as well,” Abbott said.

The fact that many school children of different generations grew up seeing the mural inside East Ward merits an effort to preserve the mural, according to Ramona Owens.

Ramona Owens has been in touch with school district officials to see what can be done.

“The mural Mr. Owens painted in that hallway has been there for 33 years,” she said. “And it will be lost forever unless enough support is garnered to do something to preserve that art and its history.”

mpayne@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7553

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