As some of you know, I lost my cousin Bernard last week in the Navy Yard shooting. Bernard
was very delightful and sweet man, and we will miss him dearly. One of
our drum circles, some of our elders and lots of family attended the
funeral earlier this week to bless his passage to his place of rest. The
Washington Post published the article linked below yesterday.
Under a red tent at a Waldorf cemetery, relatives and friends of Navy
Yard shooting victim Kenneth Bernard Proctor Sr. gathered around a
black casket with a spray of white roses. His two teenage sons sat near
their mother, listening to distant drumbeats coming from the edge of the
cemetery, where the Piscataway Conoy Tribe of Maryland performed an
honor song to help Proctor’s “spirit travel to its final resting place.”
“We always perform an honor song for tribal members when they cross over to the spirit way,” tribal leader Mervin Savoy said.
The tribe had prepared a white leather pouch for Proctor,
46, who as a child performed with the Piscataway Conoy Dance troupe for
six years. He was proud of his heritage and was able to trace his
tribal ancestors back to 1734.
In the leather pouch buried with
his casket, the tribe had gathered things meaningful to Proctor. “In the
pouch are three sisters: corn, beans and squash for nourishment,”
tribal member Lisa Savoy said. “Tobacco, sage, cedar, pine and sweet
grass to carry his spirit peacefully . . . down from
thistle — the white fluffy part — to rest his head. Finally, the seven
clans: turtle, wolf, snake, deer, bear, beaver and wild turkey so he
doesn’t travel alone.”
Proctor, who lived in Waldorf and graduated
from La Plata High School in 1984, held jobs with the federal
government for 23 years. On the day of the shooting, he was working as a utilities operation supervisor at the Navy Yard’s water plant.
“He didn’t work in Building 197,”
said his oldest brother, Fitzgerald Proctor, who lives in La Plata. “I
found out he was in the boiler plant right next to 197. When he heard
the commotion, he came out to see what was going on. That’s what we heard. We do not know what happened after that.”
Fitzgerald Proctor learned of the shooting, “I didn’t want to think
anything negative,” he said. “I was hoping for the best and really
praying he wasn’t involved until we found out later that night.”
Rear Adm. Katherine Gregory, who attended the Mass and burial at Trinity Memorial Gardens, said the Navy mourns for Proctor.
reputation was he was just a great person to work with and be with,”
Gregory said. “People loved working with him. Everybody in the Navy
really feels his loss. We are one Navy family. We’ve lost a family member, and we are really sad.”
the visitation and Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in La Plata,
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) presented a flag that had
flown over the U.S. Capitol to Proctor’s two sons.
was one of those extraordinary people who come together to make America
what it is,” Hoyer said. “He will never be forgotten.”
loved watching boxing, cheering for the Redskins and coaching his sons’
football team. Family members said he also had a passion for fishing and
working on cars.
At the church, Kenneth Proctor Jr. stood up and told of how his father had taught him to honor and respect others.
day, we were out grocery shopping, and there was an old lady in front
of us,” the younger Proctor recalled. “My father noticed she couldn’t
buy all the items. He stepped up and bought them. He said later the
reason he paid for them was because if it was his mother, he would want
someone else to step up.”
After the burial, Kenneth Proctor Jr.
held the folded U.S. flag. Then he bent over and touched his father’s
casket and plucked a single white rose from the spray.