2013-11-29 / Front Page

Justice for Mary plans bench dedication

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

Mary Tanner Mary Tanner KENNEBUNK — A bench will be dedicated in Mary Tanner’s honor on Sunday, Dec. 1 at Rotary Park in Kennebunk. Tanner, a resident of Kennebunk, was murdered in the summer of 1978 at the age of 18.

Her body was found, beaten to death, on July 7 at Gracie Evans Airfield in Lyman by a pilot flying overhead. The individual(s) responsible for her death have not been apprehended. In the years since, those close to Tanner have made it their mission to bring her killer to justice and keep Tanner’s memory alive. A memorial service was held in July to mark the 35th anniversary of her death.

Tanner was a student, cheerleader and majorette at Kennebunk High School. The Mary Ellen Tanner Schol- arship Fund was set up several years ago for a selected graduating majorette or cheerleader.

Craig Tufts, former Kennebunk resident and family friend of the Tanners, donated the $1,000 for the purchase of the bench and the plaque, which is located near the spot where Tanner was last seen.

Tufts’ cousin, Tim Ames, who is a 1977 graduate of Kennebunk High School, knew Tanner and her older brother, Charlie Tanner, who now lives in Portland.

For a long time now, said Charlie Tanner, “People have been running around saying ‘What can we do? What can we do?’”

“This is the first thing that people can actually touch and feel. I guess, in some way, it helps bring closure,” Charlie said of the bench.

Tufts’ donation for the bench and plaque “was such a beautiful gesture,” Charlie Tanner said. “It unified us.” Although, he admitted that part of him wishes the fundsraising effort was collaborative.

“People were really excited to go out and have bake sales and do things,” he said of the initial enthusiasm behind raising money for the memorial bench. Raising the money together, he said, could’ve perhaps given people more unity and worth in the process. “They could say, part of that is mine, I helped put that there,” Charlie said.

“We hope that people will come out,” Ames said of the dedication ceremony. “It will be a very brief dedication because of the cold. There will be hot apple cider. We wanted it to coincide with Craig’s visit,” said Ames of his cousin, who will be in Kennebunk.

It goes without saying that Tanner’s friends and family are frustrated with the lack of convicting evidence to pinpoint a culprit. When asked what he wishes will come out of the bench dedication, Ames said, “I’m hoping that people who come and sit on the bench and see her name will wonder ‘Who is Mary Tanner?’ You know, there are so many people who, over the last 35 years, have no idea what happened so close to that bridge,” Ames said of the Mousam River bridge near Rotary Park. “It’s just a way of keeping her in the public eye. One more event, one more opportunity for whoever killed her to read that it hasn’t gone away, that people are still out looking and searching and hoping for answers.”

The dedication starts at 4 p.m., and will be followed by refreshments.

For more information on the event visit the Mary Tanner Bench Dedication in Rotary Park event page on Facebook.

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