Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this:
Putting politics aside, the Bristol Democratic Town Committee this week voted to make a $500 donation to the fund set up to benefit the sons of a Republican candidate who died last week.
The committee voted unanimously to make the contribution to the Jerome Family Benefit Fund, set up at Valley Bank to help the family of Derek Jerome, a 38-year-old entrepreneur who was a candidate for the state House when he took his life last week.
Jerome left a wife, Teri, and two young sons, six-year-old D.J., and Brandon, six months.
T.J. Barnes, the chairman of the Bristol Republican Town Committee, praised the Democrats for "stepping up" to help.
"I think it's great," said Barnes. "This is not about politics. It's about two little boys who have no father."
Gary Schaffrick, who gave the eulogy at Jerome's funeral, said Teri Jerome asked him to let the public know that she appreciates the support and donations.
Schaffrick said she especially appreciated the kind words from her husband's political opponent, state Rep. Frank Nicastro, an incumbent Democrat running for re-election in the 79th District.
"He's a class act," said Schaffrick.
After Jerome died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage, Barnes said Jerome had been troubled by finances.
Barnes and other friends helped set up the fund for the sake of the children. The older boy is a student at St. Anthony's School, said Barnes, who said he wanted things to stay as normal as possible for D.J., which means being able to stay at his school.
The unanimous decision by the town committee, said Nicastro, was "an act of good faith."
He said it was a way to "set politics aside and do something for that family that's hurting so badly."
In remarks to the Democratic Town Committee on Monday night, Nicastro had urged them to contribute to the fund.
"I think it would speak wonders for our town committee," Nicastro said, adding that the gesture would show that "when push comes to shove, we're all united."
It did, Barnes said.
"I think it's coming from the heart," said Barnes. "All of us, Democrats, Republicans, unaffiliateds, it does not matter. We all understand."
Barnes said Republicans will match solicit donations from individual members of their committee and hold a fundraiser for the Jerome fund after the election.
The fund is growing, said Barnes, and doing well.
"We've been getting some calls and donations from around the country," said Barnes, because the story was picked up by the Associated Press.
"Any donations made to the family fund is going to go to support D.J. and Brandon's education, whether its their continued education at St. Anthony's or their future college fund," said Schaffrick.
Schaffrick said he and Teri Jerome will make sure that in the future, the boys know "how much they were in the thoughts and prayers of the Bristol community, and what a great guy their father was."
Schaffrick said he's still reeling from the loss of his friend.
"We were like brothers," said Schaffrick. "These types of friendships and relationships are what politics is all about."
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org