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Publish Date: 4/30/2005

Sally McConnell, older sister of “R.C.” McConnell, 13 — who was killed in a car accident in St. Paul, Minn., on April 10 — talks about one of her recent memories of her little brother during his funeral Friday at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont. Sally, wearing no shoes, reminisced about a day last summer when she and R.C. declared it “barefoot day” and went to various places and businesses in Longmont with bare feet.<Times-Call/Erin McCracken

Family, friends mourn Scout

LONGMONT — One of the last photos of 13-year-old R.C. McConnell was taken just a couple weeks before he died in a car accident April 10 in Minnesota.

Those who came to LifeBridge Christian Church to mourn the Longmont boy’s death Friday passed the photo in the church’s lobby. They saw an image of R.C. sitting in a field at Fort Robinson State Park, taking a break with his fellow Boy Scouts.

They were planting trees.

He wore wraparound sunglasses, a blue Boy Scout T-shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, work gloves and a sly smile that barely revealed braces on his front teeth. The photo made him look older than 13; R.C. was becoming a young man.

This was the boy whom friends and family remembered Friday.

His voice had just changed, his sister, Sally McConnell, recalled during his funeral service.

“R.C. had grown up a lot in that last few months,” she said.

Sally remembered that her brother was always up for fun, like the time she and R.C. declared a “barefoot day” and went to the grocery store, video store and other places with no shoes, just for fun.

R.C. was a Boy Scout who preferred to be awakened in the morning on camping trips by friends pulling him out of the tent in his sleeping bag, recalled his scoutmaster, Mike Mitchell, who also fondly remembered that R.C. often chose to wear a Hawaiian flower shirt instead of his uniform.

“One moment, he would drive you crazy, and one moment later, he would be a delight,” he said.

R.C. was the child who called cars “beep, beeps” and pronounced his Rs as Ws when he was younger, his sister Victoria McConnell said in a letter read by David Bradshaw, who led the funeral service.

“If something was on fire, it isn’t burning, it’s buwning,” the letter said.

R.C. loved cats, his sister’s letter continued, and he once came up with an idea for a rent-a-cat program for people on cruise ships who missed their cats.

He was a son who didn’t pick his Halloween costume until Oct. 30 and had an incredible knack for making friends from every social group, said Terri Dailey, a family friend.

“Perhaps he was the most unique and complex of the McConnell family,” Dailey said.

R.C. played poker and bet everything on every hand, but usually won. He loved video games and jumped up and down when he played.

He had a million friends.

He walked at the back of hiking lines during Boy Scout trips.

He loved to ski.

And he was a person loved by family and friends, Bradshaw told the audience.

R.C. had been vacationing on the East Coast with family and was stuck with his mother and sister in St. Paul. A family friend picked them up at the airport, and her car flipped off the road and hit a tree. The family friend also died in the accident.

Bradshaw said it’s easy to question God’s will during such tragic times.

“He created this earth with an equal amount of good and evil,” he said. “What would love be in this life, how meaningful would love be, if we didn’t have choices and there was no good and evil?”

Bradshaw said something good will come out of the sorrow, though it’s hard to see right now.

“I assure you, in some way, God will make a good use of R.C.’s death,” he said.

For now, R.C. remains a boy who will be missed.

Fellow Boy Scout Chris Hassa, 15, said R.C.’s joking and fun are now gone.

“Who are we going to pull out in their sleeping bag now?” he said.

Douglas Crowl can be reached at
303-684-5253, or by e-mail at dcrowl@times-call.com.

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