Richard family: 'He is at peace now'

Martin RichardMartin RichardEight-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in last week’s bomb attack at the Boston Marathon, was laid to rest this week at a local cemetery after a private funeral service, according to a statement issued by the family.

“The outpouring of love and support over the last week has been tremendous,” Denise and Bill Richard said. “This has been the most difficult week of our lives and we appreciate that our friends and family have given us space to grieve and heal.

“A private Funeral Mass was celebrated [Tuesday] morning with immediate family. We laid our son Martin to rest, and he is now at peace. We plan to have a public memorial service in the coming weeks to allow friends and loved ones from our community to join us for a celebration of Martin’s life.”

Martin, a third-grader at the Neighborhood House Charter School, is being mourned across the nation and the world. His sister, seven- year-old Jane Richard, remains hospitalized. Like her brother, she was caught in the second of two coordinated bomb blasts outside the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street. Their mother, Denise Richard, was also injured in the explosion, but not as seriously.

The family— including an older brother, Henry, and father Bill Richard, were watching the marathon near the finish line when the bombs —allegedly built and put in place by two Cambridge brothers — erupted.
Friends and neighbors have set up a fund that will aid the Richard family with expenses related to the attack and their medical care. As of yesterday, the fund has collected more than $238,000 — and that total does not include checks that have been dropped off to St. Mark’s Area Main Street, which is the fiscal agent for the fund. Bill Richard served as the president of the volunteer board of the Main Street organization until recently. Organizers stressed that the family did not seek to launch the fund, but neighbors and friends felt it necessary to do so to meet the demand locally from folks who want to assist in any way possible.

Kevin Andrews, headmaster of the Neighborhood House Charter School, said that the city of Boston had responded swiftly to buttress the Pope’s Hill school’s own resources with grief counselors and other assets as the school re-opened on Monday following April vacation. The Richard family has strong connections to the charter school on Queen Street. In addition to Martin, Jane is in the first grade and mother Denise serves as the school’s librarian.

“The mayor’s office, Dr. Johnson and the Boston Public Schools – they have all been tremendous,” said Andrews.

Andrews said that Jane is a shy, sweet little girl who quickly warmed up to the new school environment last year and who recently became an Irish-step dancing student. 

“She loves to give hugs,” Andrews told the Reporter. 

Martin started at the school in first grade after spending his kindergarten years around the corner at the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy’s Neponset campus. “He was the student in class that teachers counted on to help other students who might be struggling,” Andrews said. “He was on the quiet side, but a compassionate, helpful kid who really stood out. The other children looked up to him.”

Andrews remembers that Martin was a huge sports fan who wore his favorite Red Sox player’s jersey to school the week before Patriot’s Day.

“He was a big Dustin Pedroia fan,” said Andrews.

Denise Richard, the headmaster said, is a dedicated staff member who turned her focus to making the school’s library a top-notch resource for students. “She’s done a remarkable job,” said Andrews, who recalls that the Richard family frequently attended school functions together— including a book fair held this year that Denise organized and staffed.

“Pray for all the kids at Neighborhood House Charter School,” Andrews requested of a reporter.

Rev. Sean Connor of St. Ann Church in Neponset— where the family worships— has worked closely with the Richard family since the events of last Monday. The St. Ann pastor offered words of comfort to parishioners in a letter circulated late last week.

“Please know that our parish is working with the Richard family to identify the areas where they need your support the most,” Father Connor wrote.  “We are also working with other community groups to coordinate times for community prayer, reflection, and monetary support to help the family.

“Your prayers and love are felt by the family, and they ask for you to continue to pray,” wrote Connor.  “I know that many kind gestures and gifts have been left by friends and well-wishers at the family home.  The family has asked that you refrain from leaving these items at their home.    

“Please know that the Peabody Square Clock, which has long been a symbol of community for the Richard family, has been established as the primary memorial site for those who want to pay respects to Martin and the family and offer a gesture of prayers and well wishes.”

A fund set up as a central repository for all of the bombing victims — the One Fund— has collected more than $20 million in the week since the attack. Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino formally introduced attorney Ken Feinberg as administrator of One Fund Boston at a press conference at the Fairmont Copley Plaza on April 23. The officials said more than 50,000 individuals have contributed $5 million so far through personal checks and online contributions, and more than 60 corporate donors have given a combined $15 million to benefit the families of the killed and those injured in the terror attack.

Feinberg, who oversaw the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, said a final protocol for distribution of the funds should be ready by May 15, and the deadline to register for benefits will be June 15. Payments to families and victims are expected to be distributed June 30.

State House News Service reports were used in this story.