Hundreds Turn Out for Brooke's Funeral - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hundreds Turn Out for Brooke's Funeral

Randolph, Vermont - July 9, 2008

Brooke Bennett would have turned 13 on Saturday.

Her family and friends gathered to celebrate her life-- but instead of planning her birthday party, they were honoring her at her funeral.

The funeral was held at Randolph Union High School, where Brooke had just finished seventh grade. A tent was set up on the playing fields behind the school where she had played lacrosse. Hundreds of people-- from close friends to total strangers-- gathered to pay their respects.

"We come before you with heavy hearts this day. We come conscious of dreams unrealized, innocence stolen, trust broken, a young life ended much too soon," said Pastor Jim Thomas of the Randolph Center Church.

It was an emotional ceremony, held for someone so young, and taken so tragically. But the focus here was not on her death, it was on Brooke's life.

"Brooke was a fun, cool and friendly person to hang out with. She was such a good person," said Brooke's cousin, Courtney Jacques.

Courtney, 9, remembered her cousin and friend as someone who loved to travel, go swimming and shopping, and play video games, basketball and lacrosse.

"Brooke was a brave and beautiful girl. She would always put fun into every soul that she knew. She loved her family and friend always, even if she was mad at them," Courtney said.

Brooke's sister, Savanna Andress, read a poem about the sense of loss and loneliness her family felt.

"Give us hope for tomorrow, tell us life will still go on. Show us, Lord, that all this darkness will be followed by the dawn," she read.

Pastors from all of the area's churches asked that the community support the family in their grief. And remember the life cut short.

"We remember it's the beauty of the blossom not the length of the bloom that inspires us. Brooke was only here for a brief moment but she captured your hearts. She is gone but her beauty remains," said Rev. Ronald Rilling of the Green Mountain Gospel Chapel.

After the funeral, Brooke's family continued on to the cemetery for a private burial.

From the funeral program:

After Glow

I'd like the memory of me
To be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an after glow
Of smiles when life is done.
I'd like to leave an echo
Whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times
And bright and sunny days.

I'd like the tears of those who grieve,
To dry before the sun
Of happy memories that I leave
When life is done.

Kate Duffy - WCAX News

Related Stories:

Brooke's Parents Speak

Jacques Could Face Death Penalty

Judge OKed Early Probation Release for Jacques

Community Holds Vigil for Brooke Bennett

Police Believe They Have Found Brooke's Body

Court Papers: Uncle Brought Brooke Home for Sex

Former Stepfather Implicated in Disappearance

Police: Search for Brooke at Crucial Stage

The Criminal Past of Brooke's Uncle

Brooke's Uncle Charged in Child Sex Ring Police: Uncle "Person of Interest" in Disappearance

Police Issue Amber Alert for Missing Child

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