Mourners depart after the funerals for Lewiston mass shooting victims Aaron and Bill Young on Friday at Hope Baptist Church in Manchester.  Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

MANCHESTER — The unspeakable grief for the loss of Bill and Aaron Young is never far away, but neither are the love and the laughter found in the memories of the father and son.

That was the message on Friday, as their family and community celebrated their lives at a memorial service at Hope Baptist Church in Manchester, with more than 200 people filling the rows of seats.

The Winthrop father and son were at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley Lewiston on Oct. 25 when they were shot and killed by Robert Card in Maine’s deadliest mass shooting.

Before the service, a slideshow of photos captured and shared memories from their lives, from very candid family shots to more formal portraits.

The service began with taps and the presentation of a flag by a delegation from the U.S. Air Force.

Pastor Travis Armstrong said he encouraged those in attendance to do three things in the service and in the weeks that follow.


“First,” Armstrong said, “it’s important to remember. Remember today and the days that come, in the weeks to come and in months to come all the things you love about Bill and about Aaron. It’s OK to smile, it’s OK to laugh and it’s OK to cry.”

Second, he said, it’s important to mourn, to take time to mourn and grieve.

And third, he said, it’s important to find hope.

“So today, and in the weeks and months that follow, it’s essential that you find hope,” he said.

William Young Maine Department of Public Safety photo

During the service, relatives of the Youngs shared their memories and thoughts, and among them was Wendy Bell, Bill’s sister, who wrote a letter to her brother that she read at the service.

“‘I love you and I’m praying so hard you’re alive. Please, God.’ Those are the words I texted you at 9:55 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25. You never saw them,”  she said. “I should not have had to pray for your life. You shouldn’t be here today. You were just watching your son doing what he loved. This just makes no sense.”


Bell said over the last two weeks she has tried to recall all the moments they shared in their lives. Bell, at 18 months older than her brother, said they spent every moment of their lives together for the first 10 years of their lives.

“I can’t, and I’m super frustrated by that,” she said, adding that she wanted to write them down so she wouldn’t forget them.

But she shared a few, including the time she climbed up on the refrigerator when they were 4 or 5 to grab an aspirin bottle. She split them evenly before they ingested them.

Aaron Young Maine Department of Public Safety photo

“The rest is a blur, but it definitely involved a trip to the hospital, some stomach pumping and some awful, awful feelings,” she said. “Do you remember when we used to open the window to your bedroom and climb out onto the roof of the carport in Levittown? We were so scared that Dad would catch us and so we’d open it quietly — whatever that means — and dare each other to run out, do a dance and scramble back in before anyone knew?”

The picture that family members painted of Bill Young, who was 44 when he died, was of a big man with a big heart and a big sense of humor, who had followed his own father’s path to the U.S. Air Force. After leaving military service, he worked as an auto mechanic and spent time with this family.

Aaron Young, 14, loved golf and bowling and was a kid who was even tempered and thoughtful.


Robert Young, his grandfather, said his grandson didn’t often show a lot of emotion even in exciting situations.

Mourners embrace after leaving the funeral for Lewiston mass shooting victims Aaron and Bill Young on Friday at Hope Baptist Church in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Last summer, he said, they were playing golf. At a 320-yard hole, he picked out a 9-iron and hit a beautiful shot.

“Two feet from the pin, it drops in and just sits there. I said, ‘Aaron, that’s a great shot!’ and he said, ‘It’s all right.'”

Not long ago, Aaron came to see his grandfather, excited about a fishing lure he had made in metal shop at school. “He took a piece of steel and he forged it and polished it and painted it,” he said.

When Aaron usually came by for a visit, he’d say hi and get a snack, Young said. But on that occasion, he came bounding in, saying, “Look what I did! Look what I did!”

That lure will stay on the shelf forever, he said.

Gov. Janet Mills, who this week named members of an independent commission that will investigate the shootings, also attended Friday’s service.

Following the service, members of the family remained behind at the church for a small reception.

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