EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 10, 2013

Kindness lifts mother's spirits

Bench dedicated to memory of child is returned to pond site

HAVERHILL — After vandals damaged a granite bench dedicated years ago in memory of her son, a saddened Kimberly Comeau kept asking herself one question: “Why would someone do this?”

She never got an answer, but now that doesn’t seem to matter as much.

Because of the kindness and generosity of others, the bench that was inscribed with the name of her 10-year-old son, Justin Thurlo, is back whole in its rightful place at the edge of Round Pond.

For Kimberly Comeau, when she returns to this special spot to look out at the water and remember her son, she will also remember those who came forward to erase the damages caused by a senseless act.

“It was heartbreaking to see the pictures of Justin’s bench in the water,” Comeau said after vandals threw it into Round Pond this summer and broke it.

Her spirits have since been lifted.

“The bench is beautiful and it’s where it’s supposed to be for all those to visit and remember Justin... a precious child who was taken from us too early,” she said. “I am beyond grateful that people like Dave LaBrode and Rick Atwood stepped up and made this all happen. It just goes to show that there are good people out there willing to help.”

The bench was placed in a small park at the edge of the pond about a year after Justin’s death. The Pentucket Lake School fifth-grader was killed in May 2000 in an accident in Kingston, N.H., where his family had moved a few months earlier.

About a year after the boy’s death, Flo Hennessey, the mother of one of Justin’s best friends, donated the bench as a gift from her family. Others donated to the cause as well. The bench was placed along the Lawrence Street side of the pond in the Alfred DiBartolomeo Memorial Park, which is named for a late city public works official.

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