Community supports Dundalk family after memorial statue goes missing
Concrete angel honors deceased son
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.
The empty spot that once housed the Nelson’s memorial statue.