Family, friends gather to remember Mark Lufkin as police continue investigation
Travis Lufkin, 12, wears a necklace of can tabs that his late father Mark Lufkin had collected to give to charity after the memorial service for at South Church in Concord; Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
Liz Patrick (front right) plays a song that Mark Lufkin had written for Lufkin's brother Steven Lufkin (left) after a memorial service for Mark Lufkin at South Church in Concord; Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
William Ferriter, Mark Lufkin's former father-in-law, looks at pictures of Mark Lufkin and his family after the memorial service for Mark Lufkin at South Church in Concord; Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
Mark Lufkin shared his deep Christian faith with everyone around him, loved his family and played the guitar. And while he wanted to become a better father to his four children and overcome his alcoholism, he felt called to live among Concord’s homeless community.
More than 100 friends and family members gathered at South Congregational Church yesterday morning to remember 39-year-old Lufkin, who died Saturday.
His brother and son played songs on his guitar. Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.” His children called him a hero. Friends said he inspired them through his generosity. His parents and sister spoke about his faith and battle with alcoholism.
“I don’t know what was more debilitating to Mark: his desire to please people or his inability to make it happen,” Thom Friedrich said during yesterday’s service. “But he really desired to please people. He really desired to be special to people.”
Friedrich, a pastor, met Lufkin several years ago while his homeless outreach group was praying with people living along the railroad tracks in Concord.
Lufkin was living in the same homeless camp before he died in the hospital Saturday, though the circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. His family believes he died of injuries from a brutal attack. But the police are cautioning against rumors or premature conclusions, and have not yet determined whether the death was caused by an accident or by wrongdoing.
Though Lufkin had family members in Concord and in Florida, he chose to live in a homeless camp underneath an Interstate 393 overpass. He left home shortly after graduating high school to live with his uncle and cousins in New Hampshire, his father, Delwyn Lufkin, said at yesterday’s service.
“I called him my wanderer, because we never knew where he was,” Lufkin said.
Mark Lufkin’s two sons and two daughters – Christian, Jayde, Travis and Autumn – live in the Concord area and attended yesterday’s service.
His teenage daughter Jayde said her father was her best friend, and she cherished the limited time she spent with him. He understood her better than anyone else, she said, but the last time she saw him she’d asked him to change his lifestyle.
“But I guess that didn’t happen,” she said. “People say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. But I knew what I had.”
Lufkin’s four children are living with their mother’s family members, said his sister, Christy Lecuyer. Their mother, Jamie Locke, is Lufkin’s ex-wife. Locke is serving a prison sentence for beating a homeless teen and throwing him into the Merrimack River.
Lufkin’s 12-year-old son, Travis, struggled to speak through his tears yesterday. He didn’t see his father often, and last saw him two years ago.
“When I did see him, I would throw my arms around him,” Travis said. “I always told him I loved him.”
Friedrich, the pastor who knew Lufkin for several years, said Lufkin deeply loved all four of his children. The first time the two men prayed together, Lufkin prayed that he would overcome his addictions and become a better father.
“I know from my personal conversations that Mark really loved his children,” Friedrich said. “It tore him up inside that he couldn’t have done better for them. . . . He wanted so bad to be the person you needed as a father.”
The police investigation into Lufkin’s death is ongoing, Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said yesterday. He declined to provide additional information.
“We have a lot of people to talk to, to try to determine where Mark was and what he was doing probably a week prior to his admission to the hospital,” he said.
Lufkin was taken to Concord Hospital either late Thursday or early Friday, O’Malley said. He was later taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. The Concord police were contacted by doctors there Friday.
Lufkin’s family believes he was attacked while defending a homeless woman who had been sexually assaulted. His mother, Linda Lufkin, said he called her last week and told her about the assault.
“My dad died a hero,” said his son Travis.
O’Malley said yesterday that the police are still seeking firsthand information about what could have happened to Lufkin.
During yesterday’s service, Lufkin’s friends from Concord were eager to share their memories. They grew restless at times, shouting or speaking over the person holding the microphone.
A friend, Jonathan Hopkins, continually attempted to play the piano at the front of the church as others spoke. He later said that Lufkin had taught him how to play. He brought his dog to the service, and stood at the front of the church to tell people Lufkin had loved everyone, including the dog.
“He brought a smile to my face that was amazing,” Hopkins said.
One woman remembered Lufkin’s warm hugs. A man said Lufkin had assured him that “God has a reason for you being here.” Another woman left a flower for Lufkin’s family at the front of the church alongside a photo of him, and urged people to share information with the police.
Brenda Lucier, who said she met Lufkin 18 years ago, called him the “sweetest guy ever.” She had tried to persuade Lufkin to live with her instead of on the streets, and he refused. But he was always there when she needed him.
“He’s going to be my angel on my shoulder.”
As they exchanged memories, hugs and tears, everyone at South Church yesterday agreed about one thing: Lufkin wouldn’t want them to cry.
John Moretto, director of the Open Hands Resource Center in Concord, reminded members of the homeless community yesterday that Lufkin sought to share his faith in God with them.
“Mark was a hero,” Moretto said. “He certainly was a hero to me, and in the last few days I have seen more and more of that.”
Since Lufkin’s death, his family has tried to understand the life he led in Concord. He could have stayed with cousins in Concord, or lived in Florida with his parents and siblings, but he chose to live under Interstate 393.
“Mark had a home in many places, he just chose to be with you guys,” his mother, Linda, told the friends gathered at South Church.
Lufkin did return to Florida about a year ago. He arrived there in poor health, after his parents worked with outreach workers to put him on a bus from Concord. His sister described nursing him back to health and sobriety. He found a job, began saving money and spoke to his parents about his deep Christian faith.
His father hoped he would bring his four children to Florida and raise them there. His mother hoped he would become a preacher.
About six months later, Lufkin returned to Concord. He felt called to live among his friends and preach to them, he told his family.
Lucuyer, his sister, said she now understands why her brother returned to Concord.
“And I realize that it was because he was out there with all of you, helping all of you to be just like him,” she said. “And trying to teach you all how to love compassionately and not to judge and to just be who you are and accept that. And that’s who he was. He was just him, and he accepted that.”