Letters to the Editor

Islanders lent support to our family during time of grief | Letter to the Editor

I want to thank the many Islanders who have stepped into our lives and helped us in untold ways during the past two weeks.

From the moment Islanders received news of my son’s tragic death, people began showing up at my house. They brought food, candles, flowers and healing plants. They handled my phone calls and text messages. They sobbed with me. They provided things I didn’t even know my family and I needed.

Two RV’s appeared in my driveway, all set up for my family who flew and drove in from all over the country. Two friends put together a slide show of Palmer’s life, scanning and organizing photos for hours. Another set up a Facebook page. A student made a beautiful video in honor of Palmer and posted it on YouTube. An anonymous Island family purchased my son’s burial plot; I burst into tears when this kindness was revealed to me. A member of the Patriot Guard quietly arrived and escorted my son’s funeral procession.

Nearly 600 people came to Palmer’s funeral, surrounding our family with love and support and honoring my precious son. Afterward, many came to the reception at the Sportsmen’s Club, an event spearheaded by Vashon’s wrestling community, which supplied a wonderful spread of food, brought in a band and decorated the hall.

I also want to thank the compassionate King County Sheriff’s officers and the Vashon Island School District for their response. Many were traumatized by Palmer’s death. The school district, Vashon’s therapists and several leaders in the faith community responded, providing much-needed support to students.

My father at one point told me that he was amazed by Vashon’s outpouring of love, support and kindness. “This is like Mayberry — America 50 years ago,” he said.

I can’t begin to thank people by name because there would be too many to list — and because I don’t even know all the people who have helped our family. But please know we felt your love, support and prayers and appreciate your hard work before, during and after the reception. It has meant a great deal to us.

Finally, thank you to my son’s close friends and fellow students for your love, bravery and support. You are a precious, articulate, confident group of young people. You make me proud. Please keep loving and supporting each other.


— Kathleen Gilligan


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