Saturday, December 4, 2010

Horror Of A Good Man

I never thought I would write a letter to a man incarcerated for three counts of murder, but last night I did just that.
In the mid 1980s, my grade school Principal took a shotgun and murdered his wife and two young daughters. I vividly remember watching the news and listening in horror as they played one of the girls 911 call which ended with a shotgun blast.

During the early 70s when I was in the first grade, it was a tough time for my family. My mother brought my sister and I to a small Idaho town on a wing and a prayer and we lived with my grandparents. It was an especially hard winter, and I was scared at the idea of a new school and new town. One day I became sick and wanted to go home. There were some other kids in the office with the same problem, and Mr Stover drove several of us home. I was the last one to be dropped off but there was a problem. Because we had just moved, I didn’t know my exact address, but I knew the street. Mr Stover drove me up and down, block after block hoping I would recognize my house. We didn’t find it, and had to return to school, but along the way he reassured me it was ’okay’ and was incredibly kind to me. I’ve never forgotten that afternoon. .

We moved that summer and the next school year Mr Stover became the Principal at my new school.

In the third grade, I was bullied by a crossing guard at lunch time. Once I identified the kid, he took care of the situation and I never had another problem.

When I was in the 6th grade, there was a boy who arrived in the latter part of the year and only stayed a month or so. The other kids wanted nothing to do with him, but we became friends even though it cost me socially. I remember he had a truly horrible home life. While working on a project, I clearly remember him saying “I wish Mr. Stover was my dad.” I protested, but he was adamant that he was a better choice than his own father.

That said a lot. Mr Stover affected a lot of kids that way. He was a remarkable, kind, soft-spoken man who truly cared about all his students. His family meant the world to him, and it showed.

When the mid 80s rolled around, the Stovers went through hard times and moved to Boise. He couldn’t find a position with the school system there and he tried selling insurance. Bills mounted, tensions within the family rose and somewhere along the way he lost himself and his mind. According to the news, in a moment of despair, believing his family would soon be homeless and they would starve…. he lost his mind….. and his family lost their lives. It was horrible, our little town was shaken to the core.

I believe in the death penalty, I believe there is unspeakable evil in the world like in the Petit case.
Mr Stover was not evil. Yes he did an evil horrible thing….but that was a result of a broken, delusional man. He’s been in prison for 25 years now and he wont be eligible for parole for many years to come.   He’s now in his late 70s and from what I heard he doesn’t remember that fateful day and is adamant he could never have done such a horrible thing.

I don’t know why he’s been on my mind lately, but he has.  I also don't know about attoning for sins of that it even possible?   All I can say for sure, is that his life up to that tragic day has to have counted for something, and it's important for me to let him know how he touched my life.


Charlie said...

Incredible story Geoff.

Kevin said...

hope we get to hear a follow-up!

Anonymous said...

That was very kind and thoughtful of you. -- HF

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