What Creates Community? A Town Mourns a Loss

Real Estate Agent with Utah Homes 9334967-SA00

What creates a community?

I suppose we could say time. By accident we tend to stumble into each other’s paths sufficient to create some sort of relationship.

I think it’s more than that.

We become a community when we share a common bond. It may come through following the common path of witnessing a local team achieve… or, conversely, fail. It may come through collective festivities… where we party with one another.

However, as is true with friendships, many of our deepest relationships are forged through the fire of adversity. In short, through the crucible of mourning we find comfort with those who are “there” for us.

I wish it weren’t so.

The town of Gilbert experienced festivity and tragedy in a single day. With the passing of a local high school student, Kelly Tracy, and the injury of her brother in an early morning car wreck one community is doing what good communities do. They are reaching out to a family in their darkest hour.

The Highland High School band, distraught, cancelled their saturday parade appearance. The students were invited to an evening prayer service at the family’s place of worship, City of Grace church in the neighboring city of Mesa. Collectively they mourned.

This is diffucult for all of us... not just those who have lost loved ones under similar circumstances- our friends and family casualties to a preventable act- another casualty to a drunk driver. We catch ourselves saying that we shouldn’t have to meet this way so often.

Yet, our hearts are big enough to comfort.

A family needs our encouragement. They are witnessing what happens when a community comes together. Collectively we can provide that added strength that is needed when the burden becomes heavy.

The world lost another young one… Taken far too soon… and we wish the Tracy family well. We can only imagine the depth of emotion you’re dealing with right now. Our thoughts are with you.

For those who wish to offer your assistance (from AZCentral): A memorial fund has been set up through Washington Mutual and Chase banks to pay for funeral costs. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the City of Grace Church, 655 E. University Drive, in Mesa.

Anyone who wants to help the Tracy family this week either through volunteering or contributions of another sort can contact Highland High School Band booster member Deidre Baxley, kdbxly@cox.net.


Photo Credit: "Lonely Leaf" by Mateusz Stachowski

Comments (15)

Jay Thompson
Zillow - Seattle, WA

Chuck - thanks for your thoughts. My daughter is in Kelly's band, and I was volunteering for the band the day Kelly was killed. Being in the room when they announced Kelly's death to all her band mates was the most emotional thing I've ever experienced.

This was so sensless. A drunk driver, at 6:30 in the morning. With a previous DUI conviction. How utterly tragic.

Later today I'll be posting something on my blog where people can contribute to the fund for Kelly. It will be at PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com

Nov 17, 2008 04:35 AM
Mirela Monte
Buyers' Choice Realty - North Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach Real Estate

Chuck:  My heart goes out to the parents!  I pray that I die before either one of my kids does, for I couldn't possibly stand the pain. 

We lost a member of our family this weekend also, to an car accident as well. 

This comes in the midst of negotiations with my 15 year old daughter over driving privileges, and it seals the deal: she will not be allowed to drive until she finishes the six week driver education training AND the BMW driver training in Greer (which only occurs in February of next year). 

My son was subjected to the same tight driving guidelines.  Consequently he's been driving for many years now and has never had an accident or a ticket.  Driving is a privilege and a responsibility, not to be taken lightly. 

This is such a sad, sad reminder of that fact...

Nov 17, 2008 05:06 AM
Debi Ernst
St. Charles County, Missouri - Prudential Alliance Realtors - O'Fallon, MO
GRI, e-PRO, Broker/Sales Associate

Chuck - I am so sorry for your community's loss.  I am praying for you all.

Nov 17, 2008 05:18 AM
Chuck Willman UtahHomes.me
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Jay- I can only imagine the sadness in the room. It *is* senseless to see the devastation that can be left by an impaired driver.  This comes too close to a similar incident with Shane Figueroa. In both cased they were killed by a drunk driver who is in the country illegally.


Nov 17, 2008 05:59 AM
Debbie Summers
Charles Rutenberg Realty - New Smyrna Beach, FL

Chuck - I read your previous post and I'm so sorry to hear that the festivities were dampened by this tragic event, it's awful to see a young person loose their life due to a drunk driver.  My heart goes out to her family, friends and community.

Nov 17, 2008 06:25 AM
Calie Waterhouse
Chandler, AZ
Community Builder

Chuck - thank you for writing about Kelly's tragedy. The whole day was just escewed due to this non-sensical event.  The whole thing is just plain sad.  The events, the loss, the outcome ... but, I am thankful that we (you, me, Jay) all live in a community that is so transparent in our sorrow, that we allow each other the opportunity to reach out - either through words or tears and allow the healing to begin. 

Nov 17, 2008 07:24 AM
Gail MacMillan
Titusville, FL

Chuck - Life can seem so cruel, and death so senseless, especially one of this nature.  How can someone be drunk at 6:30 in the morning??  Some friends of mine experienced a tragedy of this nature and the guy, in New Mexico, had been arrested so many times for DUI - he didn't even have a license and was still driving.  In this case the victim survived, but will never be the same.  My heart goes out to all of you.

Gail MacMillan Titusville Fl Real Estate

Nov 17, 2008 08:20 AM
John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana

Really feel for this family.  I have no sympathy for drunk drivers or impaired.  I can't even put it into words.  I am glad you posted this for all to see.

Nov 17, 2008 10:08 AM
Eric Murrietta
Homeowners Financial Group USA, LLC - Scottsdale, AZ

Chuck - Tragedies never have answers, just questions.  My thoughts are with the Tracy family and for their loss so close to the time when families are often together to celebrate the past year.

Nov 17, 2008 10:31 AM
Mara Hawks
First Realty Auburn - Auburn, AL
Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL

My heart simply aches for your community there, Chuck...Each precious one is a part of the wholeness of everyONE of us...a community gathering together can help to gather grace from the fields of grief...community lights a candle and holds a vigil...keeping hearts together while the spirit finds its way through the darkness...May angels be upon the shoulders of this family and whisper into the hearts of her friends... May they find courage and be comforted... Kelly's family is truly In my prayer at this hour...

Nov 17, 2008 12:43 PM
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

ahhh Chuck are thoughts and prayers are with you and your community as you walk together slowly in the days to come.  The Tracey family needs to feel the warmth and comfort of your community.  I pray to for the recovery of Kelly's brother.

Your Raleigh Realtors

Nov 18, 2008 09:35 PM
Jason & Amber Gardner
Hasson Company, Realtors - Sherwood, OR
We're Committed to Your Success!

It is so wonderful of you to use your blog to help others beyond business.  My heart goes out to this family.  I have three boys and I can't bare to imagine what they may be going through.  Having people like you in the community is exactly what they need.


Nov 24, 2008 08:22 PM
Chuck Willman UtahHomes.me
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Mirela- I have to admit... it has been tougher for me to return to comment on this one. It's just a sad tragedy and, at such times it's difficult to address. I'm extremely saddened to see that you've experienced this at such close range. I feel for everyone at times like these... of all the human emotions, loss of a loved one is so deep and profound. My thoughts are with you. And... as far as taking precautions with your kids? I see nothing wrong with the rationale. There are so many things that we deal with on the road... it's so much better for them to be prepared. Of course, when the other driver is inebriated it gives such little room for defensive reactions. Thanks for your comment- I always appreciate your insight.

Nov 25, 2008 12:12 PM
Mirela Monte
Buyers' Choice Realty - North Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach Real Estate

Chuck:  I know what you mean.


Nov 25, 2008 12:40 PM
Dona Reynolds
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Stein Summers - Saint Joseph, MO
St. Joseph MO

Chuck-My sympathy to this family and also your community.  I lost my son in a tragic accident, a couple of years ago, it is something as parents we never forget, as it lives within us every day of our life.  My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Nov 25, 2008 03:20 PM