Guest Column: 20,000 strong

By Diane Didier-Adolphson

A family’s painful burden, a city’s helping hand, and a State of Illinois Prisoner Review Board does its job, and does it well!

We honor today Joey Didier’s memory with 20,000l signatures that were compiled protesting the parole of Robert Henry Lower.

With the passing of both our dear beloved parents, George (1999) and “Sue” Rosemary Didier (2007), my four siblings and I have vowed never to risk complacency! Every three years now, I receive the dreadful letter (that was previously mailed to my mother) which comes between Thanksgiving and Christmas stating that Robert Henry Lower once again for the 17th time was up for parole consideration. How would we manage, how would we cope?

It does not seem fair that celebrating Christmas and collecting petitions to keep a killer in prison should have to co-exist in our family. But my mother taught us, “there are powers in numbers!” Sue Didier’s promise of commitment, hope and courage lives on in each and everyone who lent their support to this worthy cause.

In the absence of both parents, we have asked the community as well as the citizens throughout the state of Illinois to step in to help ensure that Mr. Lower never lives as a free man.

With hundreds and thousands of signatures, whether it be online with the Rockford Register Star, coupon signing with The Rock River Times, faxing or signing in businesses, stores or neighborhoods, people who never knew Joey Didier realized we cannot allow Mr. Lower to be unleashed as a sexual predator in our or anyone’s society. We have to protect our natural resources—our children!

Myself as well as the entire Didier family would like to express a deep, heartfelt thank you to everyone who signed our petitions, helped or supported us in various ways, or even prayed for the success of the drive. It was only because of the wonderful, caring and giving people of this Rockford community that the drive was so successful! Words cannot convey our gratitude! Thank you to The Rock River Times for their tremendous support, and a very special thank you to Joe Bruscato, our State’s Attorney, for your unwavering dedication and commitment to Joey! This also goes to prove working together, we can and have made a difference! Illinois will be a safer place for the next three years!

The following poem was submitted to the Didiers by Tim Hughes, a retired teacher who had Joey Didier in his class.

Newspaper Boy Joey

In the winter chill of predawn darkness
comes a thump at the front door
announcing that newspaper boy Joey
has been there once more.
A telltale thump, all American in ritual,
and unfailingly predictable
as newspaper boy Joey
moves along the predawn route
to the next stop and a telltale thump
at another front door.
The boyish grin, the shock of hair,
the smile as he arrives to collect,
all things marking that all American boy.
Until there comes a morning
when the lurking serpent of winter darkness
crosses his route, fixed eye gleaming
as it slithers with quivering menace
toward its unsuspecting prey,
murderous tongue flitting as it prepares to slay
while newspaper boy Joey walks along his way.
Many a winter morning has since come and gone
and some on his former route still hear
that telltale thump at the front door
reminding them that newspaper boy Joey
still makes his route
on a new and shiny shore.
—Tim Hughes

Diane Didier-Adolphson is Joey’s sister.

From the March 9-15, 2011, issue

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