Com­mu­nity sup­ports Dun­dalk fam­ily af­ter me­mo­rial statue goes miss­ing

Con­crete an­gel honors de­ceased son

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By NI­COLE ROD­MAN nrod­man@ches­pub.com

The com­mu­nity has come to­gether to sup­port a Dun­dalk fam­ily search­ing for an­swers af­ter an an­gel statue, part of a me­mo­rial gar­den ded­i­cated to their de­ceased son, was stolen from their yard.

Gar­rett Nel­son was nearly five years old when he was di­ag­nosed with a rare kid­ney cancer known as Wilms dis­ease. The Grange El­e­men­tary School first-grader, son of John and Gwen Nel­son, died of the dis­ease on April 4, 2010, at the age of seven.

As Gar­rett’s father, John Nel­son, re­called, the fam­ily had planted a tree in the yard of their Sear­les Road home just be­fore the birth of Gar­rett and his twin brother Austin on Oct. 17, 2002.

When Gar­rett died, they cre­ated a me­mo­rial gar­den, plac­ing a con­crete an­gel on a brick base just un­der that tree.

“The tree was for him be­ing born,” John ex­plained. “When he died, we put an an­gel there.”

And there the an­gel re­mained — at least un­til re­cently.

Some­time be­tween 11 p.m. on Wed­nes­day night, Aug. 9, and dawn the fol­low­ing morn­ing, the statue was stolen from the yard. Ac­cord­ing to John, his son no­ticed that it was miss­ing while leav­ing the house Thurs­day morn­ing.

It could not have been an easy task. Solid con­crete and 150 lbs., the statue left a drag mark as the un­known sus­pect(s) pulled it across the Nel­son’s lawn Wed­nes­day night.

“Just bring it back. I don’t care who you are; just sit it in my yard.” John Nel­son

The fam­ily filed a po­lice re­port and searched the neigh­bor­hood and nearby creeks, but to no avail.

For John, the crime is es­pe­cially bit­ter given his in­volve­ment in and love of the com­mu­nity he calls home.

“I re­ally take a lot of pride in the neigh­bor­hood,” he said.

Owner of Ho­labird Metal Prod­ucts, John’s com­pany cre­ated the green metal “Dun­dalk Her­itage Park” sign that greets vis­i­tors on the Trad­ing Place side of the park.

He also runs the Dun­dalkEast­field Recre­ation Coun­cil’s base­ball pro­gram, which he does in honor of his son.

John re­called the out­pour- ing of sup­port his fam­ily re­ceived fol­low­ing Gar­rett’s death seven years ago.

The pro­ces­sion from Duda-Ruck Funeral Home had 137 cars in it, he noted.

That sup­port has come through yet again, as just days af­ter the statue’s dis­ap­pear­ance, friends col­lected enough money in do­na­tions to or­der the fam­ily a brand new statue. It is due to ar­rive in a few weeks.

For Gwen Nel­son, the out­pour­ing of sup­port is a com­fort.

She said, “It’s nice to know that there are good peo­ple in the world when bad things hap­pen like this.”

Mem­bers of the com­mu­nity came to­gether to re­place a miss­ing me­mo­rial statue ded­i­cated to the me­mory of Gar­rett Nel­son, who died of cancer at age 7.

Gar­rett Nel­son with his twin brother, Austin.

PHOTOS COURTESY NEL­SON FAM­ILY

The empty spot that once housed the Nel­son’s me­mo­rial statue.

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