Although Deidra Rooney's son is now 20 and her daughter is 18, back when her children were four and two, they attended . One day, Rooney noticed an unfinished mural of a beautiful blue sky with clouds on one of the walls of the school.
Over a year went by, and nothing more was added to the mural. Rooney, who enjoys painting, approached the teacher and offered to finish the mural, if the painter wasn't coming back. She got the okay and finished it with her kids.
A few years later, Rooney's son started kindergarten at . Rooney approached the principle of Webster, Phil Cott, and asked if he'd like a mural at the elementary school as well. He said yes and, actually he had just been approached by an artist inquiring the same thing. Perhaps, Principle Cott suggested, they could work together?
The muralist who had approached Principle Cott was coincidentally the same muralist who painted the clouds at Malibu Methodist Nursery School, but could not complete the project because he had left for Australia.
Legaspi and Rooney became fast friends. Together with Rooney's four-year-old daughter Camille, they embarked on painting a
During the process, Camille's pallet accidentally fell, splattering paint down the wall in all directions. Rooney remembers that she and Camille were horrified. Then they looked at David and saw he was grinning.
"David looks at us with a big smile on his face and said 'I guess we have to paint that wall too,'" Rooney recalled.
When the project was completed David insisted Camille was the only one to sign the mural, because she was the one who made the mural it the way it was.
"He was like that with everybody," Rooney said. "From the beginning he loved kids and had unbelievable gift of bringing out artist in children."
Rooney is among many parents and community members who are mounring the loss of Legapsi, who died earlier this month at the age of 51 of natural causes.
Rooney said Legaspi was happiest when he was able to share his love with students and parents.
"He never wanted to take a great mural and paint it himself. In his heart, he loved painting with people. That was his favorite way of doing artwork."
During his life, Legaspi painted at many different schools and did many different projects, mostly painted together with children and their parents who equally adored him.
"You would often find kids trying to sneak out of class to paint with him," Rooney said. "And if you talked to 50 parents, we all felt like we were his best friends," she added.
Over the years, Legaspi painted several murals in her childrens rooms at her house. For her 40th birthday, Rooney asked if he would paint her a mural at Webster.
He agreed, but refused to be paid for the work. After arguing with him, Rooney finally got him to at least let her pay for the supplies.
"He was generous to a fault," Rooney said. "He'd take private commissions, yes, but he used that money towards his public projects. He keep almost nothing for himself."
The idea for the mural was to make it a paint-by-number and invite the kids and grown-ups at party to come to the school and paint it in throughout the course of a day.
"You saw people who were complete strangers meeting each other and becoming friends and accomplishing this beautiful thing together," Rooney said. "I said to people it was like the day of my wedding. It was beautiful."
One thing Rooney remembers about Legaspi was his philosophy toward painting.
"He would tell you not to paint with your hands, [but] instead look at the paint and see it, really really see it, and when you see it then just start," Rooney said.
Rooney said he did the same thing with people.
"Every little kid that painted with david came away knowing they were an artist," Rooney said. "He could see people. That's why he was so good with them."
A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 at Barnum Hall on the .