A violent crime spree in San Jose hit home for Campbell recently.
On Nov. 16, a 22-year-old and a 15-year-old were involved in four armed robberies and a failed carjacking attempt that left a 22-year-old Rory Park-Pettiford to die in his car.
His family held a public viewing on Nov. 24 at the Darling Fischer Memorial Chapel and a donation fund to help cover burial costs has been set up. Payments may be made at www.roryparkdonations.com.
Park-Pettiford's former principal Kathy Hogan shares her impressions of the young man and what she will remember most.
I first met Rory when he came to Marshall Lane Elementary School in kindergarten. He was a shy, frightened 5-year-old who wasn't sure he was going to like this new school.
After talking with his parents and learning a little more about him, I placed him with the kindest, most caring, very successful and seasoned kindergarten teacher, Carol Radke. She made Rory feel safe and secure and welcomed his keen wit.
Rory was a very bright youngster with an incredible sense of humor and intuition about people. He and I came to know each other well. I also got to know his parents very well and soon learned of the strong bond he and his father had. If Rory was sent to the office, he had my permission to call his Dad and they would "talk things out."
My most lasting impression of Rory was on the day I announced that I was leaving Marshall Lane. Many of the students (whom I had known since Kindergarten) gave me hugs, however, Rory's hugs were quite different. Not only did he hug me and tell me he'd miss me, but he continued to run up to me on the playground (in front of all the kids) and give me a couple more hugs for good measure!! His behavior was sincere and heartfelt ... I'll never forget him or that day.
As I've thought about the tragic events of Nov. 16, I am amazed at how sad it makes me feel -- for his brother Dylan, his father Rory, and his mother, Young-Ae -- I lost a 26-year-old sister some years back and I still ache when I think of her ... so I'm sure I'll ache when I think of Rory, or when I go back to Marshall Lane, or when I think of my years as the Principal of Marshall Lane.
I attended Rory's funeral on Saturday and I talked to Rory's parents, but I just want to reiterate that I truly loved your boy and saw all of the wonderful things about him -- not a minute goes by I don't wish he was here with all of us, but as my Grandmother once told me, "Children are a gift from God; they are not yours to keep."
He was a gift and we were lucky to have him as long as we did.