Scholarship honors fallen East Kingston police officer Melvin Keddy
EAST KINGSTON - Mark Iannuccillo was just a seventh-grader when East Kingston police officer Melvin Keddy was struck and killed by a drunk driver.
Keddy was directing traffic around the scene of an accident in Kingston on Sept. 7, 1995, when he was hit by Steven Balukas.
Keddy's daughter, Shyre, was 16 at the time.
Iannuccillo never knew Keddy, but he's learned a lot about him since joining the East Kingston Police Department several years ago.
Each year, Iannuccillo, now a police corporal, escorts Keddy's daughter to the New Hampshire Law Enforcement Memorial in Concord.
A few years ago, the two started talking about finding a way to honor Keddy after all these years. They decided to establish the Officer Melvin A. Keddy Memorial Scholarship to be given out each year to a graduating senior from Exeter High School entering the public service field.
"It's a way of getting his name out there and it helps the kids. He was very big into helping the community, so I think it's great that it's perpetuating that legacy," said Shyre Lancia, Keddy's daughter who is now 33, married, and living in Salem.
To fund the $500 scholarship, the East Kingston Police Association began hosting a pasta dinner fundraiser at the East Kingston Elementary School.
The dinner has been a big success, with Wednesday's third annual event raising nearly $2,000.
Carriage Towne Bar & Grille owner Rob Healey said he enjoys helping out by donating the food and catering the event, where he and other volunteers served up 25 pounds of meatballs, 20 pounds of chicken and 30 pounds of sausage.
"I'm glad I'm able to do it," he said.
Iannuccillo said attendance has increased as more people have discovered the reason behind the dinner.
"There were some people in town who said they had no idea that it was for him and said they would definitely be there now," he said.
Iannuccillo hopes to build up enough money in the account to increase the scholarship amount from $500 to $1,000.
It's been nearly 18 years since the accident that killed Keddy, but Iannuccillo said those who knew Keddy and even those who didn't still think about him and are reminded of the dangers that come with the job.
"His accident hits home because it's not like he was in a violent confrontation. He was at an accident scene and somebody made a poor decision and it ended his life," Iannuccillo said. "It's something to keep in the back of your mind. Even when you're on a traffic stop you keep an eye on your surroundings."
Lancia has been able to move forward since her father's death, but she, too, is reminded of that dark day whenever she hears about tragedies like the shooting on April 12, 2012 that killed Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney and left four other officers wounded.
"I went to his wake and it was like déjà vu walking in there. There were the flowers and all the pomp and circumstance," she said.
Lancia also will never forget the sound of planes flying over during the funeral for her father, who served in the Air Force.
"You kind of get these snapshots in your mind that you remember," she said.
Henry Lewandowski, who retired as East Kingston police chief in 2002, also attended the dinner in memory of his friend. He and Keddy worked closely together during their time on the force.
"He was a very good friend and he always liked everybody. I miss him," Lewandowski said.