As mourners filled Hope Reformed Church in Grand Haven Township on Thursday morning and wiped away tears, many remembered Trevor not as a little boy who had died, but as a courageous spirit who had truly lived.
Fond memories flowed during the funeral service for the 8-year-old Grand Haven boy who lost a brave battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia Sunday afternoon at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Community members wrapped their arms around Trevor and his family throughout his 14-month illness, and this final goodbye was no different.
There was a sense, though, that this boy who loved helicopters, John Deere tractors, video games, dinosaurs and dragons should be among us still, instead of silenced by a disease that no one had the power to slay. But a different ending was not meant to be.
Speakers, including his parents and teachers from Ferry Elementary School, praised Trevor's wisdom, courage, mechanical and technical aptitude, common sense, and positive attitude. But there was one trait that seemed to flow through every tear – Trevor's genuine compassion for others.
The eulogy stories recounted how Trevor frequently told his mom not to worry. How he would reach his arms up for a “bro hug” from the pastor after pretending he was asleep. How he would thank the nurses after they had performed a painful procedure and how, after a doctor apologized for telling him he would need more chemotherapy treatments, Trevor responded, “Don't be sorry.”
“I don't know what it was about him,” said Trevor's great-grandmother, Gloria Howard. “I know a lot of parents say that about their kids, but there was something there. There was something special. It just amazed us how an 8-year-old touched so many lives.”
His kindergarten teacher, Kristi Reeser, found the courage to sing two songs during Trevor's funeral — “To Where You Are” and “This Little Light of Mine.”
Even though it's been a couple of years since she had Trevor as a student, Reeser said she learned as much from him as he from her.
“He was always positive,” she said. “He always wanted hugs. Even when he was feeling terrible, he had a smile to give you. He taught me to have a positive outlook. He saw the light in everyone.”
That light is glimmering still, from the community that loved little Trevor and those who never met him.
Marlene Wolffis, Trevor's great-aunt, said she was at the eye doctor the other day, and she had mentioned that her 8-year-old nephew had died. The woman told her she had donated money to Trevor and his family, but had never met them.
“It's so wonderful he touched so many people,” Wolffis said. “It made me very proud that so many people thought of him so dearly.”
Read the complete story in today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
Upcoming Trevor Howard fundraisers:
This Saturday – Pottawattomie Park, Grand Haven Township, 1-3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 4 – Grand Haven Eagles Club dinner benefit, 5 p.m. to midnight.