Updated, Dec. 17:
The Bedford Courthouse was packed on Sunday to standing-room only capacity for the dedication ceremony to remember Kevin Quaranta.
Below, Chris Burdick shares his remarks from the event which honored the late town justice with a tree dedication.
Kevin was an inspiration. Kevin was a mentor. Kevin was a true friend.
I first met Kevin in 2007. We quickly formed a bond as we went about the business of trying to get ourselves elected - Kevin seeking a second term as justice and me seeking a first term on the Town Board. As we sought votes, knocking on doors and driving all over Bedford, we spent many hours together. We talked – not simply speculating about the outcome with the folks whose door we were about to knock on. Not simply about politics, but about more. Kevin, outgoing, gregarious, and so full of blarney, also was a private person. So I wouldn’t want to overstate how much I got to know him, but we did share quite a bit about our lives, what motivated us and what was important to us. Through it we got to know one another pretty well.
Kevin had an extraordinary understanding and appreciation for people – each individual. He listened attentively and absorbed what he heard like a sponge. He could recount on a doorstep with extraordinary detail a conversation four years earlier, interrelationships with friends, relatives and colleagues. He attributed his abilities to his time as a trial lawyer working with juries. But I came to realize that it was Kevin’s natural character that came first. It came from his caring about the individual. Kevin truly was inspiring. I learned much from him and we became friends through those long hours of campaigning.
I think about Kevin a great deal. I think about issues or questions that come up and how Kevin might view them. A few weeks back when I was working with David Menken in his bid for Kevin’s seat, we’d agonize over how to handle something that came up. David or I would say, “I wish Kevin were here. He’d know. He’d understand what people are thinking or would expect.” We’d ask one another how Kevin might look at it and try to assume his perspective and viewpoint. Of course we couldn’t do it, but we’d try. The exercise became frequent enough that we’d ask the other “WWKS?”, What would Kevin say? Or WWKD, What would Kevin do? I had a dream the other night – a bit of a nightmare for someone seeking election. It was the night before the election and I was in a room with volunteers, but no one had any calling sheets for getting out the vote. I was frantic. It was 8:15 and we didn’t have much time left to make calls. The dream ended. Kevin would have known what to do and would have laughed about the dream.
Kevin’s focus was simple: faith, family and friends. I was fortunate to be among his friends. The nearly 4000 who attended his wake and those here today are testimony to the impact Kevin had on each of us. .
I believe it was faith, and we shared much in that, that prompted him to public service. He frequently talked about service to the community and giving back to the community. And he lived by that.
We best can honor Kevin by celebrating the tremendous contribution he made to our lives, to our community. But with that said, it is inescapable that he has left a huge hole in our community and in our hearts.
When a newly planted Tupelo tree is dedicated on Sunday, it will mean more than a beautiful addition to the landscape at town hall.
It will evidence of how the late Kevin Quaranta touched the lives of so many people in the community, say organizers of a ceremony to remember the former town justice who died in July after a six-year battle with melanoma.
"This will be a celebration of his life, and a good opportunity to remember all that he did in Bedford," said Chris Burdick, a town board member and part of the Friends and Family of Kevin Quaranta, which raised funds for the planting.
The gathering starts at 1:15 p.m. on the lawn in front of the town house at 321 Bedford Road. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved inside to the Justice Court. Parking is available at at 425 Cherry Street.
Among the event's speakers is Burdick, Judy Quaranta, Ken Swenson and George Fernandez—representing family, friends and members of local organizations with which Kevin Quaranta was involved, like the Bedford Village Lions Club.
Bea Rhodes, a member of the town's tree advisory board and organizer of Sunday's dedication, said TAB chair Mike Serio, Bill Heidepriem, parks and recreation commissioner, and John Goodman, a parks and rec landscaper, all helped choose the tree.
"The foliage is glorious and it will have a long life—it's a wonderful choice to honor Kevin," she said. "It will overlook the courthouse and Kevin loved the court. He was a good and loyal friend and I and many others miss him. He will live in our hearts forever."
At a meeting last month, the town board created an official fund for individuals to give donations toward memorial trees, benches and plaques for community members who have died. Recent dedications were also made for Jaap Ketting and George Delaney. For more information on contributing to the fund, call town offices at 666-6530.
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