Mourners enter the Leon Gorman Conference Center at L.L. Bean on Sunday for the celebration of Theo Ferrara’s life. The 14-year-old was found dead last month in Maquoit Bay. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

FREEPORT — Many words were used to celebrate the young life of Theo Ferrara at a memorial ceremony Sunday.

He was funny, bright, artistic, athletic, a skilled debater. But the word that was most repeated about Theo was that he was kind.

An overflow crowd of hundreds of mourners gathered at L.L. Bean’s Leon Gorman Conference Center to remember the 14-year-old. It seemed the whole town showed up, just as when an intensive search for the missing boy was launched. He was last seen Sept. 22 walking on Flying Point Road near his home. The search ended tragically five days later when Theo’s body was found in Maquoit Bay near the Freeport-Brunswick line. In a statement released Sunday, the family said they believe Theo’s death was a suicide.

Theo came from a deeply loving family, and as parents of a teenager, the Ferrara family negotiated his need for privacy and their parental need to keep him safe, they wrote. They urged friends and family to listen to their loved ones.

“If there is a lesson that we learn it is that hurt can hide behind bright, artistic, funny, smart, happy exteriors,” the family wrote. “We may think ‘we would know’ or that we should have known. But this kind of grief looks for an answer that is not there. So, continue to check in with one another and remember that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to ask for help.”

Many of those in attendance Sunday wore green Celtics shirts, a team that Theo loved, and Freeport Falcons jackets and shirts. Some of the shirts also had the name “Ferrara” on the back.


Theo Ferrara Contributed photo

Welcoming the community was Freeport resident Eric Smith, who said they gathered with sorrow but also with joy and gratitude “for the gift of knowing Theo.” They came together as a community, because community is what is needed “to endure a loss like this.” He repeated the story that the late Fred Rogers often said about how his mother told him when something bad happens, to look for the helpers.

“Helpers are certainly gathered here today,” Smith said, listing the agencies that searched for Theo – local and state police officers, first responders, game wardens, marine patrol officers, volunteers and more. Speaking to Theo’s family, friends and others who knew him, Smith said that as they come to terms with the mortality of Theo’s life, his laughter, his light and his kindness will live on in their hearts.

Other speakers included one of his teachers and a friend who wore a purple shirt paying homage to a purple crayon shirt that Theo often wore.

Music was performed by his friends with songs that he liked, including music from Tom Petty and the Beatles’ White Album.

Another speaker was Theo’s “Uncle Paulie.”

“Good afternoon Freeport,” he said, praising how the community showed its love and support before and after Theo was found. It takes courage for all to show up “and embrace pain.”


He recalled that the last time he saw his nephew, Theo teased him about being taller. “He laughed. I laughed. I cherish that moment.”

With the death of Theo, “God reminds us today how fragile life is,” and how time is the most precious possession, he said. There wasn’t enough time for Theo, he said.

“I think at times that Theo was too kind for this world.” His uncle said he wishes for peace, but a question haunts him. “What did Uncle Paulie miss? … I know that question haunts us all. How could we have missed it? He felt so broken he couldn’t carry on.”

At some point the mourning will turn to honoring, and Theo’s example of kindness will grow.

After a video of photos showing his mother holding him as an infant, the boy growing up, and tributes from coaches, friends and family, Theo’s dad spoke.

Wearing a green Celtic basketball jacket, Jarrod Ferrara said his son would be horrified to see the crowd that came, as Theo was a private person. Ferrara said he’s blown away by the caring, kindness and love the community has shown.


Trying to hold back tears, Ferrara said his boy was special. “He had a shine. … He was much smarter than me and his mom. He taught me a lot of things,” including geography, a subject that was very hard to stump Theo.

Mourners make their way to the memorial service for Theo Ferrara. Many of those in attendance Sunday wore green Celtics shirts, a team Theo loved, and Freeport Falcons jackets and shirts. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Speaking to his son’s classmates, Ferrara urged them “if you’re not doing well, or if a friend’s not doing well, you’ve got to say something to someone,” a parent, a guidance counselor. “I want you all to grow up, happy,” he said, adding he wants to watch them get their driver’s licenses, graduate from high school, go to college, fall in love.

Life has its ups and downs, Ferrara said. When there’s a tough time, “you just have to wait. You just have to go through it.”

He spoke of his wife and two daughters, whose hearts he said are broken.

“We’re gonna be OK,” he said, but the loss of Theo has left a hole. Their lives have forever changed.

“We really miss our boy,” Ferrara said with emotion. “We miss you. We love you.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.