To the Editor:
Thank you in advance for allowing me to share some thoughts publicly at this time, a bit more than three months after the death of my 15-year-old grandson, Wilder Allen Colson, and before the end of the school year at EHS where he was a freshman, and at the beginning of a summer during which memories of the previous year will fade for some and preparations begin for the fall term.
Losing a child is always a tragedy and affects everyone who loved them deeply and permanently. On behalf of our family, we want to recognize and thank all who have supported us, held us, lifted us, fed us, and aided us in any way during this most trying period. In particular we would offer our deepest gratitude for the professionals of the EPD whose kindness and heartfelt care of Wilder’s immediate family was nothing less than exemplary during their time of greatest need. Also, the members of Ellsworth’s Unitarian Universalist Church and Pastor Sara Hayman have shown such love and kindness in supporting our family in its grief and in memorializing Wilder for the entire community, that we will be forever grateful to them all.
The community turnout for Wilder’s memorial was deeply emotional and moving for all of us. Friends, family, acquaintances, hordes of fellow students from EHS, MDI and EMS, and community members who just heard and cared enough to show up to express their care and regret for this tragic loss made an indelible impression on us and will not be forgotten. This 15-year-old was a valued and proud member of the crew of Ellsworth’s McDonald’s restaurant, and the owners and managers made an outstanding effort to allow his fellow workers and shift leaders to support, attend and contribute to his memory. Former customers of the little towheaded guy who waited on them at Mike’s Country Store from years past; former Principal Newitt and teachers and staff from EMS; and all those unable to attend but who passed along messages of condolence, we thank you for your care and concern.
To be frank, we still wonder about the nearly complete absence of EHS faculty and staff as well as school district staff at the memorial. Their total lack of communication in the days, now months following the tragedy, even extending to planning for the return to classes of Wilder’s sibling who remains a student there, required the family to make several attempts to reach out to them. Other than a small bouquet, there has been no personal offering of support or condolence by any of the administration at all, none, and I personally feel it important that the community be made aware of that remarkable and nearly inexplicable fact, sad to say.
Wilder was a kind, generous, talented, and loving boy at the threshold of finding his way into adulthood. He experienced many of the pressures that we all fear will harm our children and that we all hope will be dealt with by “the village” so that they may be overcome successfully and survived. While the investigation continues into the actions of others which may have contributed to this tragedy, we will never know all the thoughts of this child and his choice to permanently escape the temporary difficulties beyond which he could not see. I hope we can find agreement in this troubled time on at least one idea: that our children are our future and we must act in their best interests in all matters.
Mark A. Tripp