Gathering pays tribute to slain Charlestown woman
CHARLESTOWN - A gray sky hung over Patch Park on Saturday afternoon as more than 100 people released balloons at a memorial for Kelly Robarge.
It was a day for remembering and a day for letting go.
Her daughters, Gabrielle Robarge of Claremont and Ciera Robarge of Charlestown, released Chinese lanterns at the gathering.
"We're going to miss her so much. It won't be the same without her," said Robarge's grandmother, Mary Wright.
Robarge, 42, was reported missing from her home, 124 Happy Acres Road, on June 27. Her remains were found in Unity July 6.
Her estranged husband, James Robarge, is facing a charge of reckless second- degree murder for her death.
"The hardest part is they just lost a mother and a father at the same time," family friend Jeannie Bailey said at the memorial. "It's just mind blowing. It's hard to wrap your head around it."
Bailey said she had been close to Robarge when both their families lived on Acworth Road in Charlestown, but had lost touch with her over the past four years after the Robarges moved to Happy Acres Road.
She added she was grateful Robarge's body was found after an almost two-week search, so the family could have some closure. "I don't want to see those girls suffer anymore," she said.
One of Robarge's best friends, Tracy Williams of Chester, said the small, simple gathering that she helped organize was what Robarge would have wanted.
At noon, family and friends gathered around the park gazebo. The Rev. Steve Lepine of All Saints Parish of Charlestown and North Walpole led the group in prayer.
"We say less and we pray more" in the face of this tragedy, Lepine said. "We know that our words can't bring Kelly back, but a word here or there is going to offer some support and consolation to Kelly's family members and friends. But prayer is going to help us beyond our words. ... Our God is going to give us the peace and the strength that we need that no man can ever give."
He urged the gathering to look to God for support and to pray for Robarge and her family.
"Leaning on God is going to help us continue to press on in life, and if we don't, evil has the upper hand, it wins, and hope diminishes. ... Never lose hope, and know that our God loves us so much."
Friends also spoke at the service. Over and over again, they said Robarge was there for them anytime they called.
"Kelly always opened her home up to me," said Nicholas Perusich, who traveled from Missouri to say goodbye to Robarge. "I thought of her as a mom. I will always miss her."
Amanda Laird, James Robarge's eldest daughter, recalled her stepmother and spoke directly to her half-sisters.
"I always thought of her as another mom," she said. "I love you, Gabby, and I love you, Ciera. Your mom was such a wonderful woman. I could call her at any time and she would answer. And she was always the life of the party with her smile. And I just wanted to say I'm sorry, girls, and I'm going to be here for you no matter what."