Military wife grateful for support following tragedy

To the Editor:

My name is Sherri Lawton. I am the widow of Staff Sgt. Mark A. Evans-Lawton who died in action in Iraq, on Aug. 29, 2003.

I want to take this time to thank all the many people who have helped the children and myself. I have tried so very hard to thank you all, but fear I have missed some. So to try and express my deep gratitude to you all, I am placing this thank you in the local papers. I pray that if I happen to miss someone, you wouId know my gratitude and appreciation would also be directed towards you.

There are some that donated to us that did so quietly, and I thank you for all that you did.

To Big Bar Storage: I want to thank you for giving Mark and I free storage during his deployment, and your continued generosity as I try to bring my life together.

To Colowyo and the employees: For all the many things you have done. The donations of the food and sodas for the reception. For the beautiful fund-raiser all the employees contributed to, and to Colowyo for matching the employees donations. For the horse troughs used at the reception for the soda. And for flying your flag at half-staff in honor of Mark.

To TIC (The Industrial Company) and all the many employees here and across the U.S. that have sent in donations to us. For all the many safety glasses you sent to my husband's company before his passing, that helped keep the sand out of their eyes. And for all the many packages that were sent to the soldiers throughout the year to help their time go easier.

To Safeway and City Market: for all the vegetable trays, food, and household supplies that were donated to the reception and the family.

To Mike and Kathy Dimmer of Johnny B. Good's and their employees and customers: Thank you all for the fund-raiser taken up on the anniversary of 9-11 for us. Thank you for the many invites to your restaurant, where you have always picked up the bill. Thank you for the many, many Christmas gifts for the boys.

To VFW and Elks Lodge of Hayden and Craig: for the tables and chairs you let us borrow.

To the Hayden Schools for the use of their chairs and tables.

To Colorado West Bottle Water Company for the supply of ice they donated.

To all the many family and friends that brought in food, water, soda, homemade dishes, and household supplies. This was such a great help, and very much appreciated!

Thank you for the very large cake that was donated to the reception. I have just recently been made aware of this, and unfortunately do not know who was kind enough to donate it, but it was appreciated.

To the American Legions and Auxiliaries of Hayden and Craig for all the help and support. I know some of you brought food dishes and other things out to us.

To the Craig American Legion and Auxiliary for the very great honor of renaming Moffat County Post 62 in honor of Mark.

I want to thank all my family and friends for coming out to the house to help the moment you all heard of our loss. I will forever be grateful for all of you for coming and being with us. I know during those first days many of you came in and helped with the boys, food, and cleaning. I thank you all for keeping my home running during the time I could not function well.

To First National Bank of the Rockies: for opening a memorial fund for us, and taking care of it. Thank you for all the help of keeping track of all the addresses and amounts so that I could thank all the many people that helped us. Thank you Cathy, Dana and Pam of the Hayden branch for always being there willing to take my calls and answer the many questions I always seem to have. For all the research every branch did on the many addresses I needed.

To the Colorado Northwest Shrine club and Masons for the lending of their tent to the reception.

To Steamboat Party Tents for donating the very large tent and coming out and setting it up and bringing it down for us.

To the Hayden post office and all the staff: for all the help in mailing all the packages during Mark's deployment to him, and then again to Sharon for delivering the boxes and letters that did not make it to Mark in time out to me, so that I did not have to come and collect them. To all of you that continue to help me now send packages to the soldiers in Iraq.

To Laraine Bell a Don and Barb Johnson for hunting down the use of the tent and bringing it out to us.

To Alice Carroll of Kustom Kuts: for all the haircuts for the family you did free of charge during the funeral, and the continued support and help after.

To Virginia's Cactus Grill in Craig for the help in preparing food for us.

To Schwans Frozen Foods for their donations of food supplies.

To Dr. and Virginia May for all the running and picking up of many of the donations, and the refrigerator they donated to us.

To Moffat County High School and students for the generous donation made to us; and the invitation to their homecoming game to honor the memory of Mark.

To Vaughn and Lydia Hockaday for always being there for me during the long months of Mark's deployment, for always coming and plowing the snow out of the drive. And doing such a nice job of making sure I am plowed out back by the hay stack.

To Jody Lenahan and Hayden Police Department for helping the Army with traffic during Mark's funeral.

To Mr. Dunkley at the Craig Car Wash for helping with our car wash and offer of future help when he met the boys and myself.

To Rhonda Burkey and Fauna Odem for their donation of postage to help my parents and me send the boxes to the soldiers for Christmas.

To all the community that came to Mark's funeral to pay their respects.

To Kmart for their donation of athletic baIls they sent to the soldiers.

To Bonfiglio's Drug in Oak Creek for the beautiful American Beanie Babies. As I have received a few of these by mail now, it was you that have started my collection and passion for collecting all Beanie Babies connected to an American or military theme.

To the United States military soldiers and their families: for showing such great support to us.

And to the soldiers in Iraq that continue to write and help us.

To Marci Valicenti and Molly Hibbard, local Realtors, that have set up a college fund that will be open for donations for the boys. And their efforts to establish the "Support the Troops Fund."

To the Yampa Valley Community Foundation for assisting Mrs. Valicenti and Mrs. Hibbard with their efforts to help soldiers and their families of Colorado through donations from throughout the valley.

To Autumn and the Steamboat Pilot for getting the information about the fund out to the public.

To the Hayden Mercantile for the gift certificate for groceries.

To the Routt County Fair board for donating the Exhibit Hall for Mark's funeral.

To the First Baptist Church of Hayden for the food donation they brought out.

I know I will never be able to properly show my gratitude to all the many people that helped us, during the most difficult time in our lives. Once again, I pray I have not forgotten even one of you, but with so many wonderful people to thank for such great help, please know I did not leave anyone out on purpose. I would hope each and every one of you know all the help we received was so very much appreciated.

Mark was the love of my life, and I miss him and mourn for him deeper than I could say in words, but I am so thankful for this community for stepping forward and helping me. I could not have imagined doing all of this without the support of you all. Please know I appreciate all that was done.

In closing, I would like to thank each and every one of you that have and continue to contributed to the memorial fund. I pray when the time comes, I will be able to send both boys to college with the help of those donations. God bless you all for thinking of us, and helping the only way someone could during this time.

The boys and I continue to struggle to make the adjustment our life must now take, but I know with time, and most assuredly with God's help, we will find that way. I am thankful my faith is strong, and I am reassured to know Mark is in heaven with our Savior.

Sincerely,

Sherri Lawton and boys

Hayden

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