Letter: Open letter to the Baer Family and BJ’s friends

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To the editor,

My name is Howard Daniels and I live in Beacon Falls. Let me start by saying that I didn’t know BJ Baer. I might have seen him at Gerry Smith’s house but I don’t remember.

I went to BJ’s funeral for two reasons. One, he was a second degree black belt in karate. I’m a sixth degree black belt — all karate guys are brothers. Two, I missed the wake the day before and felt obligated to go to the funeral to show my respect to the Baer family.

I am in the service industry and am on the road every day. As I followed the funeral procession down the highway I did some crying for the 24-year-old man and some thinking. I’ve seen many, many funeral processions in my travels and often observed very long ones and thought, “must be someone important.” BJ’s highway procession was over a mile long and escorted by Beacon Falls police cruisers. When we passed through Trumbull, the police blocked off all the side streets.

I listened to Mr. Smith’s eulogy at the church and now know BJ was a very important man. The church was filled to its capacity, I stood in the back.

On the trip to the cemetery in Trumbull I had oldies music in the background and noticed the song playing as I drove into the cemetery was “True Love Ways” by Buddy Holly. He died when he was 23. As I was preparing to leave the cemetery the song playing was “In the Still of the Night,” which was written in the basement of a church. And, as I was leaving the cemetery the song playing was “My Prayer” by the Five Satins.

Today I wrote a check to the William J. Baer Scholarship Fund. If anyone would like to join me to help send a future BJ to college, this is the address: Naugatuck Savings and Loan, 127 South Main St., Beacon Falls CT 06403. Make the check out to the William J. Baer Scholarship Fund.

Thank you for your time.

Howard Daniels

Beacon Falls