RANDOLPH, NJ - It has been said that the reason we build memorials is “to honor someone who passed away, while at the same time inspiring those still living.”
One such memorial, the simple standalone park bench, symbolizes rest, relaxation, or a comfortable place for reflection… and on a clear, quiet day, with a gentle breeze rustling through the trees, it can bring comfort and peace to its occupant.
Near the entrance of Brundage Park, lives a memorial bench honoring the memory of a boy described as “fun-loving and intelligent... who was full of personality and spirit.”
Family members, and a few close friends, gathered in front of the Brundage Park Playhouse on May 12, 2015 as the Township Parks and Recreation Department dedicated a new park bench to the memory of a young boy, Jacob Levy.
Back in September 2014, the Randolph Township eighth-grade boy unexpectedly left this world, but not without leaving his mark on all who knew him.
A memorial candlelight service was held at Shongum Lake after that somber September day, attended by hundreds of students and residents who came together to pay their respects, and help each other to cope with the sudden loss.
Eileen Levy, Jacob’s mom, said of the service, “It made me feel good to know that a 13-year-old boy made such an impact on so many people in such a short life.”
Eileen further described her son, stating, “He was a good, sweet little boy, with a very kind heart and a smile that could light up a room. Children were always drawn to Jacob.”
Jacob was raised in a happy, tight knit, loving family. His grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins came up with the idea to have the bench dedicated in his name. It was a fitting gesture to help ensure that the community would always be able to easily “visit” him.
Parks and Recreation Director Russ Newman, along with Christine Carey from the Township Council, attended and oversaw the dedication on behalf of the town.
The ceremony was simple, quiet, and reflective.
Eileen Levy and her family expressed their gratitude to the town for the bench dedication, and they want to make sure the community knows that Jacob’s Bench is there for anyone who wants to visit him.
Eileen stated, “It was very thoughtful. Where they decided to put it, I thought was very special. We really appreciate that they didn't hide it up in the trails somewhere.” She continued, “I used to take my kids to Brundage all the time to play when they were babies, so the location here is very fitting.”
Jacob was a kind soul who loved making other people happy. He volunteered at Sunrise Assisted Living every Sunday, an activity that started out as a Bar Mitzvah project. He would take his dog over to visit the residents and play bingo. He enjoyed seeing the smiles on the faces of the residents so much, that he continued to visit after the project was over.
His favorite thing to do was Tae Kwon Do, attending classes with Eileen and his brother. Eileen and Jacob were working towards their Second Degree Black Belts together. Jacob also loved the outdoors, spending hours in the woods exploring with his friends, often spending time with them in a tree fort he helped his father build.
Shortly after the bench dedication ceremony, many of Jacob’s friends planted flowers and decorated the bench with balloons for his birthday. For the family, the sight was a dichotomy of emotions, but one that also instilled a sense of pride.
“When I'm at Brundage… I see the bench… and I see people sitting on it. I think about how they may, or may not, know who Jacob was. But everyone should know he was a special kid, and the world is not as good a place without him” Eileen concluded.
In the memory of that special kid; that good, sweet little boy, Jacob’s Bench will forever be there in Brundage Park.
There for anyone looking for inspiration. There for anyone looking for rest, relaxation, or a comfortable place for reflection… And on a clear, quiet day, with a gentle breeze rustling through the trees, Jacob’s Bench is there for anyone looking for comfort and peace.
Story on Candlelight Memorial Service from September 2014