BRAINTREE (CBS) – One thousand candles lit up French’s Common next to Braintree Town Hall Monday night, to remember the life of beloved school nurse Laurie Melchionda.
The 59-year-old was murdered on the front porch of her home on Wednesday, investigators say by a former neighbor disguised as a UPS driver.
A hush fell over the crowd as Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” started playing over the speaker, and Melchionda’s husband and three children walked to their seats in the front row.
After tributes by the mayor, coworkers, and friends of Melchionda, her three children – Rob, Anthony, and Julianna – spoke to the massive crowd.
“Mom, if love could’ve saved you, you would have lived forever,” her oldest son, Rob, said.
Melchionda was a school nurse for decades, a member of the Board of Health, and is known for being a passionate advocate for several causes in town. Her daughter, Julianna, spoke about becoming a nurse, following in her mother’s footsteps with the hope of one day taking care of her mother and father when they grew old. “Everything I am is because of my mom,” she said.
“As beautiful as my mom was, this situation was not beautiful,” her son Anthony said. “We got sucker punched pretty hard this week, but we get back up, and we keep fighting, because that’s what she would’ve done for us.”
Based on the crowd alone, it was evident Melchionda’s years of work touched the community. As her friends tried to make sense of her sudden and tragic death, they comforted her kids. “Your mother was loved, and she was cherished, and she made a difference,” Melchionda’s friend Kerrie Doherty told her family.
Her legacy, her kids say, will carry them through this difficult time. Her son Anthony’s speech ended emotionally, as he choked up and said, “I love you,” before the entire family embraced in a hug with their father and Laurie’s husband Bob.
A wake for Laurie Melchionda will be held on Wednesday night, followed by a funeral Thursday.