This past May, R-MC alumnus Anthony (Toney) Lineberry passed away at age 55. Lineberry grew up in Henrico, Virginia, and attended Hermitage High School. Lineberry was an undefeated star wrestler at his high school until the winter of 1978 when he was paralyzed from the chest down. Lineberry and his friend, despite the poor conditions of the roads in a winter storm, decided to go out for a drive one January night. This night ended up changing Lineberry’s life forever.
As a result of not wearing a seat belt, Lineberry suffered severe injuries to his body including a broken neck that left him paralyzed for the rest of his life. Lineberry was in the hospital for about a year, including three months on life support, but he managed to pull through.
After becoming disabled, Lineberry was forced to re-evaluate his life. While in the course of re-evaluation, Lineberry, who was basically illiterate, decided that not being able to read or write was a greater disability than not being able to walk. He decided to focus on his school work, something he had previously had little interest in. Lineberry worked extremely hard while attending J. Sargent Reynold’s Community College (JSRCC), and later transferred to Randolph-Macon College on a full scholarship. Lineberry graduated Magna Cum Laude with two degrees and a minor, and went on to UVA Law School. He later became a professor of law at JSRCC.
Not only was Lineberry accomplished academically, but he also became an award winning motivational speaker. Lineberry spoke in 36 states and 2 providences in Canada, booking approximately 330 gigs every year. His main focus while speaking was to discuss highway safety, but Lineberry also had a gift for specifically targeting the audience he was addressing. Lineberry often spoke on the hazards of not wearing a seat belt, and most recently, he had been working on an anti-texting and driving campaign.
Lineberry received the honor to be a part of the Olympic torch relay in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. In order to be selected, Lineberry was informed that Chevrolet, the Olympic sponsors that year, had asked the public to nominate someone to carry the Olympic Flame who they found to be inspirational. Lineberry was nominated by his children’s babysitter at the time, and this nomination led to him being selected to hold the torch.
Recently, Scarlett Dodl created a display in the Randolph-Macon College McGraw-Page Library which features photographs and memorabilia from many of the honors and events Lineberry was able to either receive or take part in throughout his lifetime. The display includes items such as an Olympic torch, a copy of a Richmond Times Dispatch article writ-ten about his inspirational journey, medals, trophies, and a copy of the book Twice a Champion, a biography written about Lineberry by his brother, Tommy.
The display was set up in honor of Lineberry’s recent passing, as well as in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a time when employers are encouraged to remember the value and talent that disabled people bring to the workplace. According to the Campaign for Disability Employment, this effort is used to “promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities.” Randolph-Macon encourages students to reflect on this issue as well as the passing of an honored Randolph-Macon alumnus, and urges students to go visit the display in the McGraw-Page Library.
-Kayla Koslosky ’18, Junior Features Editor