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Randall Brewer honored posthumously with Hero Award

Della Bishop of Lancaster accepted a Hero Award plaque from Citizens Bank-New Hampshire president and CEO Cathy Schmidt, left, and a citation from Gov. John Lynch, right, on Thursday afternoon in Concord at a moving ceremony at which the selflessness and bravery of her son, then-27-year-old Randall Brewer, was recognized for saving the life of an 11-year-old boy who was drowning in the cold waters of the Israel’s River on April 19, 2008, in Lancaster. Her husband — and Randy’s step-dad — Mike Bishop was on hand to support her in this highly emotional moment. (Photo by Edith Tucker) (click for larger version)
May 13, 2009
CONCORD — It was an emotional moment on Thursday afternoon when Della Rice Bishop accepted the New Hampshire Hero Award that honored Randall Brewer, her then-27-year-old son who drowned on April 19, 2008, after rescuing an 11-year-old boy from drowning in the ice-melt-swollen Israel's River in Lancaster.

Ms. Bishop, accompanied by her husband Mike Bishop — her son's step-dad for a decade — also accepted a citation from Gov. John Lynch in which he, on behalf of all the state's citizens, commended Randy Brewer for his "selflessness and bravery" in giving his life to save that of a child.

Cathy Schmidt, president and CEO of the Citizens Bank-New Hampshire that sponsors the event with the New Hampshire Union Leader, was visibly shaken when she presented Ms. Bishop with the Award plaque.

Gov. Lynch warmly hugged the tearful mother.

Ms. Bishop's mother — Randy's grandmother — Dee Rice of Newark, Vt., was on hand, as was his aunt, Jo Dee Rice of Maine. Mr. Bishop's mother — Randy's step-grandmother — was also with the small tight-knit family group.

Randy's younger brother, 18-year-old Kevin Brewer, a senior at White Mountains Regional High School, was attending classes. According to his step-dad, Kevin is slated to graduate on June 15 and then to enter the Marines on July 6.

Neither of Randy's two children — his four-year-old daughter, Maria-Rain Bonnet Brewer of St. Johnsbury, Vt., and his 10-year-old son, Jordan Scott Brewer Tanner, also of Vermont, was able to be present.

Union leader president Joe McQuaid, who served as the master of ceremonies, talked with family members after the under-the-tent formalities were completed in front of the State House.

At a reception in the Council Chambers, Ms. Brewer said that she had been greatly comforted by seeing that her son's sacrifice had not been forgotten, that his life had indeed mattered, and that he had made a difference.

Neighbors and townspeople in Lancaster had helped her and her family through a very difficult time over the last year, she said. Her fellow workers at Country Village in Lancaster as well as the residents have also been very understanding and supportive, Ms. Brewer said, noting that she will soon receive both a pin and a week's vacation to recognize her five years of working there.

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