Neighbors gathered around a chalk rainbow on the sidewalk outside eight-year-old Martin Richard’s home, mourning the youngest victim of Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon and missing his boundless energy and winning smile.
“Very happy, happy-go-lucky,” said Jane Sherman. Martin was afraid of her dog, a Rottweiler, she said, but he always gave her a cheerful greeting. “An outgoing, wonderful kid. This is a horrendous loss.”
Martin lived in the large blue Victorian house in working-class Dorchester – a neighborhood dotted with “Kids at Play” traffic signs and budding trees and flowers – with his parents Bill and Denise, seven-year-old sister Jane and older brother Henry.
Bill Richard told the world in an email on Tuesday that his little boy had been killed when bombs exploded at the finish line of the marathon. Martin’s mother and sister were seriously injured.
“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston,” Bill Richard wrote. “My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers.”
The family released a photo of Martin at a hockey game, dressed in Boston Bruins regalia.
Three people including Martin were killed on Monday, but only Martin’s name has been made public. At least 176 people were injured, law enforcement officials said.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said at a press conference on Tuesday that all of Boston was in mourning. “This is a close place, the city of Boston,” he said. “Here we know our neighbors, we grieve for them. We grieve for the little boy we knew from Dorchester.”
A makeshift memorial of flowers and a wish for “Peace” written in chalk marked the outside of Martin’s home. Drivers slowed down as they approached it, paused, and made the sign of the cross before moving on.
Another neighbor, John Do, walked briskly to place flowers at the memorial. A veteran of Vietnam’s navy, he said the attack on the marathon was “even worse than what I saw on the battlefield – to do this to children – horrible.” Do left in tears, his face contorted by grief.
Marchell “Tiny” Watson and Margaret Admirand recalled the Richard family children playing soccer and hockey on the lawn, chalking the sidewalk with rainbows and butterflies, dressing in costumes for Halloween, delighting in family trips.
“Can’t you just see them up there kicking the ball on the lawn?” Watson asked.
“And their little sister running after them,” Admirand said.
Watson said that for years Denise Richard had jogged up the hill, pushing her boys in a dual stroller, on her way to bring Henry to school. “She was my alarm clock,” Watson said. “They were loving, caring parents.” Martin played flag football and was a proud member of the Savin Hill Little League team, neighbors said. Opening Day for the league, including a parade, was scheduled for next week. He recently celebrated his First Communion. Savin Hill Little League president Tony King remembered Martin as a “very mature 8-year-old” and “a very, very much loved little kid.”