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Medford unites to mourn Krystle Campbell

Posted by Jarret Bencks  April 17, 2013 10:05 PM

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AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Krystle Campbell's uncle, John Reilly watches as his son John, Jr., lights a candle for his cousin during a memorial at Grace Episcopal Church AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

As Greater Boston continued to grieve those killed and injured after two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, the City of Medford shook with the revelation one of those lost was one of its own.

On Wednesday evening, the community came together inside the historic Grace Church on High Street to mourn for Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old native of the city, and the other victims in an interfaith vigil.

Campbell's uncle, John Reilly, and his son, also John, lit a candle in her memory during the service, which packed the small stone church. After, Campbell's friends and extended family gathered outside, consoling each other with long hugs and wiping tears from their eyes.

"It's very moving, and we're appreciative of everyone who was here, and everyone who put this together," the elder Reilly said after the vigil. "The community has shown a lot of support, and it's helping."

The vigil was attended by hundreds; some who knew Campbell, and others who felt the impact of her death through their common roots, and wanted to show their support to her family.

Mark Chancy, 29, was close with Campbell as they grew up together in Medford, attending junior high school and high school with her, but they hadn't spoken much since graduating in 2001. Tuesday, he had combed through old yearbooks, looking at photos of his childhood friend.

"It's unbelievable, it's still hard to accept this is actually happening," he said.  "Nobody wanted to believe that it was her. To know your friend died from a bomb attack, instantly ... it's the saddest experience I've ever had in my life."

He attended Wednesday's service alone, solemnly bowing his head in moments of silence, often thinking about Campbell's smile, he said.

"She was never unhappy, just a joyous person," he said. "If you weren't smiling, she would try to make you smile."

Judy Lonergan, 70, was one of the many who attended Wednesday's vigil that never knew Campbell.

"I just want to support the family and show them that Medford has a great spirit, and that we are all behind them," Lonergan said.

Candles were lit for the three killed in Monday's bombings, and two more candles were lit for the runners in the race and the first responders to the explosions. Local religious leaders read holy passages and led in the singing of hymns. Those in attendance joined together singing "Amazing Grace" and "God Bless America" before exiting the church, pew by pew, into the setting sun.

Rose Mary Ardagna, 73, said the vigil gave people a chance to unite, and pull away from the news on their televisions and radios.

"Everyone came together, I just came away with just a great feeling," she said. "People needed a break. After a while, you get numb."

Mayor Michael McGlynn said he learned of Campbell's death early Tuesday afternoon, and began making plans for a vigil almost immediately. The event was coordinated by the city and the Medford Clergy Association.

"To find out someone within our city was lost, it just compounds the grief, it spreads the hurt to a whole new level," he said. "People needed this. They needed to come together."

Jarret Bencks can be reached at Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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