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Hundreds Mourn North Salem Boys Killed By Tree In Hurricane

Funerals were held Friday for Jack Baumler, 11, and Michael Robson, 13, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Croton Falls. Photo Credit: Katherine Pacchiana
Jack Baumler Photo Credit: Beecher Funeral Home
Michael Robson Photo Credit: Beecher Funeral Home

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — More than 1,000 friends, classmates, neighbors and community members attended the separate Requiem Masses for 11-year-old Jack Baumler and 13-year-old Michael Robson on Friday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Croton Falls.

Jack and Michael were killed Monday when a large tree crashed onto Jack’s Peach Lake home, where they were riding out Hurricane Sandy.

In his eulogy at the morning Mass, Jack’s cousin Christopher Seymour, 21, said Jack was “always laughing.”

“I used to babysit for him. I’d walk into the house, it’d be so quiet, then out of nowhere this rugrat would jump out,” Seymour said.

Jack’s two favorite things were baseball and tubing on the lake as Seymour drove the boat. “He absolutely loved it. I’d make a hard right turn and my sister would yell, ‘Slow down!’ but we’d look back at Jack and he’d be doing a handstand.

“He was incredible. He’d always shout, ‘Faster!’ Jack literally lived his life to the fullest every single day.”

Seymour continued, “The community support has been absolutely remarkable. We really appreciate it, although I have to say, the community has a short memory. One time a neighbor came to the door and said, ‘Jack’s charging a toll to get into the neighborhood.' But I said, 'I live here,' and he just said, 'That’ll be 25 cents sir.’"

Jack’s baseball coach, Bill Bertolino, said Jack had been a team leader. “Kids admired him. I told him that. ‘They’re looking at you every day, how you handle pressure and defeat,’” Bertolino said.

In the afternoon, at the second service, hundreds of people again packed the church, this time for Michael Robson.

“Michael touched so many lives in his short one,” Ken Mahoney said in his eulogy. He described Michael as the epitome of happiness. “I don’t have a photograph of him where he’s not smiling. No, grinning.”

Group by group, Mahoney asked the attendees to stand and acknowledge each other — Michael's relatives, neighbors, teachers, coaches, teammates, classmates, parents of other eighth-graders, his parents’ co-workers and friends of the family.

“Look around you,” Mahoney said to the Robson family. “Look at the impact Michael had in this world.”

By the time he was finished, hundreds of people were standing.

Mahoney also thanked the emergency medical service and volunteer ambulance corps members who responded during the height of the storm and, he said, “literally risked their lives trying to save Michael. Thanks also to everyone at Peach Lake who came out to help.”

In an expression of compassion for its neighboring community, the town of Somers lowered its flags to half-staff Friday.

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