Special Reports

Community dedicates angel to overlook Powell boys, others gone too soon

The road that winds through Puyallup’s Woodbine Cemetery was bumper to bumper Tuesday night, as people turned out into the cold to dedicate the graveyard’s new angel, and to remember angels of their own.

Among them were people who have lost children or other loved ones, and some who wanted to support those who had.

The cemetery’s bronze angel statue is meant to look over and protect the children buried there.

Among them are Charlie and Braden Powell, ages 7 and 5, who were killed by their father, Josh Powell, early this year during a supervised visit to the house where he was living near Graham.

The memorial project started following the boys’ deaths, but their grandfather Chuck Cox reiterated at the dedication that the angel is for all families.

Some came to the candlelight vigil Thursday to remember the Powell boys, as well as their own loved ones.

“My sister Kate passed two months ago,” Susan Erickson said after the dedication, which she attended with her mother and 7-year-old daughter. “We just thought we’d come out to support their family, too.”

Corey Campbell and his family were at the memorial. They’ve lost a child recently, though they preferred not to focus on the negative Thursday.

“It’s important to have a place to stop and be able to think of the good memories,” he said. “It’s part of the healing process.”

Community donations through Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers made the memorial possible. Bricks around the statue will eventually be inscribed with the names of children who have died unnaturally, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. They cost about $100 each, and many will be covered by leftover donations for the memorial and costs related to the Powell boys’ gravesites. Crime Stoppers will find a way to foot the rest, Troyer said.

The public will also be able to purchase bricks through the cemetery to show support and to remember loved ones, he added.

There are more than 100 of the statues around the world. They’re based on writer Richard Paul Evans’ novella “The Christmas Box,” about how strangers learned the value of love following a child’s death. Evans attended the dedication Thursday.

The public gathers at the statues Dec. 6 every year, a tradition that will be upheld at Woodbine.

“This is for everyone,” Cox said.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268