Just before Thanksgiving, standing at a department store cosmetic counter, Bobbie Stone chatted with the clerk about holiday stress.
By BRIAN BURNES
The Kansas City Star
Then she asked the clerk an unusual question.
Did she follow the news?
Stone identified herself as the widow of Harry Stone, the Raytown resident who, while jogging, was shot and killed by an unknown assailant on Mother’s Day.
The stunned clerk hugged Stone. She said that she had been praying for Stone every day since the shooting.
“She said, ‘It was God’s plan for you to come in so I could hug you,’ ” Stone recalled.
It was one more example, Stone said recently, of how she has discerned God’s hand at work during the seven months since her husband’s death. She describes her path over that time as a slow journey toward light, away from the darkness that descended over her on May 13.
The department store moment also suggests how Stone continues to be embraced by the community.
Her husband, 60, was shot in an apparent random act of violence near 67th Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard. He died later at a hospital. Police were looking for a dark-colored, four-door car with at least two occupants that fled the scene.
The Metro Squad disbanded after several days. Seven months later, no arrests have been made.
In September, almost 500 people attended a fundraising breakfast at Bobbie Stone’s southeast Kansas City church. Others have donated money at helpharrystone.com and then worn wristbands bearing the words “Do The Right Thing.”
All of that helped the family in October to double the reward money offered for information in Harry Stone’s death from $10,000 to $20,000. Several tips came in after that announcement, said Kevin Boehm, the Kansas City police detective who coordinates the Kansas City area’s Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline.
Those have been forwarded to the Raytown police. The department continues to investigate, said Nicole Grivno, police public information officer.
Meanwhile, a personal sense of peace has come slower for Bobbie Stone, 58, an ordained Methodist minister and a pastoral assistant at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in southeast Kansas City.
“Early on, I said that I wasn’t angry yet but that the anger would come,” she said.
“And it has. And it hasn’t quite passed.”
Nobody, Stone said, could have been prepared for what she has gone through.
That’s true for her even though she works as a hospice chaplain at John Knox Village in Lee’s Summit. Grief counseling is a specialty. Yet her professional background helped only a little that day, she said.
“I had no experience in helping someone experiencing a violent death in the family,” she said.
But she was secure in her faith. That, she said, has made all the difference, as she has seen God’s work in many small details.
As it was Mother’s Day weekend.
Their daughter Susan had arrived about 11:30 p.m. the night before from Houston.
“I had gone on to bed, but Harry had waited up to see her,” Stone said. “So Susan got to see her dad. She wasn’t awake when he went out to run that morning.”
Harry Stone was shot not long after 7 a.m. After he didn’t return, Susan called her father’s cellphone. A police officer answered, described the shooting and where Stone had been taken.
That was St. Luke’s Hospital, where family and friends found two chaplains available.
“That normally isn’t the case over the weekend at any hospital in America,” Bobbie Stone said.
“One chaplain stayed with me. A second chaplain went into surgery with Harry.”
Her husband, Stone said, had been conscious while awaiting surgery.
He spoke with an anesthesiologist, asking that his family be reassured.
He died several hours later.
“I was never allowed to see Harry until after he died,” Stone said.
“And then I was only allowed to look at him from a distance because his body was considered a crime scene. So I could not touch him. I had to say goodbye from a few feet away.”
She continued to heal, often in a public way, as the months went by.
A few days after returning in early June, Stone scheduled a news conference in Independence, announcing that the reward fund for information leading to arrest or conviction had been raised to $2,000. She wore her husband’s wedding band on a chain around her neck.
Harry, she said, didn’t wear the ring while running.
“When I got home from the hospital, I put it on,” she said that day. “I’ve worn it since.”
The next week she attended the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Springfield.
Stone encouraged about 2,000 clergy and lay members to continue to advance social justice ministries.
“I asked them to pray for the people who did this, and to pray for justice.”
On Aug. 19, Stone preached at St. Luke’s. Her text came from the Gospel of John, including the passage about how “Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.”
She recalled a storm years before that had knocked out power to Cosby, Mo., near St. Joseph, where she one day had preached.
“I have thought about that a lot lately,” she said, “about sitting around in the dark when we don’t have the energy to get a candle or flashlight. Sometimes the darkness is so enveloping or overwhelming that there is no way to think about bringing in light.”
Her husband’s death represented such a moment, she told the congregation.
“Even though I was enveloped in darkness, I knew that He would guide me and lead me to the light, and that the darkness won’t last forever.”
Stone serves as a powerful personal example of faith and forbearance, said the Rev. Londia Granger Wright, pastor at St. Luke’s.
“She is owning up to the devastation and she is not running from it,” Wright said.
“That is not only beneficial to herself, but she also is being an exceptional spiritual role model for members of the congregation. People continue to see her teaching her classes and assisting in worship, as she would have normally had this tragedy not struck. She is leaning on her faith, which is deepening.
“She is the suffering servant that Jesus Christ requires us to be.”
Stone spent Thanksgiving in Houston with her daughter Susan. During Christmas she will be in Virginia with her son Steve, a newly commissioned Marine second lieutenant, and her two grandchildren.
Anger has yet to entirely leave her.
She remembers the almost 50 friends and family members praying in the St. Luke’s Hospital waiting rooms before her husband’s death.
“I am a little ticked at God,” she said. “More than a little. And I am still struggling, not with whether or not God loves me or not. That is a given.
“But everybody was praying so hard. Why couldn’t God save him? And I have to be satisfied with the answer being that we are not supposed to know. Does that make me less sad? No. Does that make me less angry sometimes? No.
“But, ultimately, God sees the whole picture. And I have to trust that God knows that justice will be served, and that His purpose will be served.”
To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.