Portion of Friant Road in Fresno County dedicated in memory of former Clovis Unified administrator

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Monday, September 11, 2023
Fresno County road dedicated in memory of former CUSD administrator
New signs on Friant Road honor a beloved Clovis educator who was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- New signs on Friant Road honor a beloved Clovis educator who was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Friant from Cooper River Drive to Willow Avenue was dedicated to Gavin Gladding on Friday morning.

Gladding's parents and wife have spent the five years since his death working to honor his memory locally and at the state level.

While their work continues, they say a day like Friday shows the huge impact Gladding had and continues to have on the community.

"Emotional, thankful, happy, and it's the right thing to do. People need to remember what happened," explained Rita Gladding, Gavin's mother.

"Every time I come to a place like this, I see how many people show up that love him, that continue to love him and carry him in your heart and that he won't be forgotten," added Susan Gladding, Gavin's wife.

It's the first time a road in Fresno County has been dedicated to someone other than law enforcement, but it's an honor local leaders felt Gladding was worthy of.

"What motivated him deep down inside was his love, and he acted upon that, and I'm hoping that that's part of the memory that people have," said assemblymember Jim Patterson.

In February, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the dedication and installation of the road signs.

That stretch of Friant Road from Willow Avenue to Copper River Road is not far from where the 43-year-old spent his last morning.

Back on September 16, 2018, the father of two and educator was the victim of a hit-and-run crash while he was out jogging.

The California Highway Patrol later arrested 18-year-old Rogelio Alvarez.

He was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison but ultimately served only 13 months.

That sentence led Gladding's family to fight for increased penalties for fatal hit-and-run drivers.

Earlier this year, Gavin's Law failed to pass out of the California Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The bill has previously passed in the California State Assembly twice but failed in the State Senate.

"We're going to continue to introduce it. I'm termed out at the end of 2024. I hope that we can get this one through the finish line," Patterson said.

His family says they'll also keep fighting.

"We're raising awareness here, as best as I can tell. And we'll do more. I'm not finished," said Rita.

At the time of his death, Gladding was vice principal at Fort Washington Elementary School and had worked for Clovis Unified schools for nearly 15 years.

His lasting impact as an educator was clear as more than two dozen former students and coworkers showed up Friday morning for the ceremony.

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