Richard Grande was the type of person who helped others, according to his mother, Angela Grande, so she thought setting up a scholarship fund in his name was a fitting tribute to her son who passed away in August while working as a linesman for JCP&L.
"He was a good, kind, sweet, loving person; everybody misses him," said Grande. "The sadness part of losing Richard is bad, but doing something good does help."
Grande plans to give out two annual scholarships to graduating Lacey Township High School seniors — one academic, one athletic — beginning this school year. Richard was involved in sports, playing ice hockey as a youth and then wrestling and track while at Lacey Township High School, she said.
"He taught kids with roller hockey and in ice hockey he helped the younger kids," said Grande. "He loved being from Lacey and would be happy we're doing this."
The first official fundraiser for the Richard J. Grande Scholarship Fund will be held 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 at the Captain's Inn in Forked River. Tickets are $25 each for the Dinner/Gift Auction. Grande said 100 tickets have already been sold for the event. Those interested in buying tickets may call her at 609-693-8987.
Grande said she already has collected several thousand dollars for the fund since Richard died. One of his hockey friends sold bracelets at the viewing, people from JCP&L sent her money, and Richard's best friend made up sweatshirts and t-shirts with all those dollars going toward the fund.
"All the money they've given me, I wanted to do something good with it," said Grande. "It's my way of giving a little back to the people who have helped me."
Grande said since her son died, her friends and the community where she has live for the last 25 years and where Richard grew up have rallied around their family. She received hundreds of cards from workers from JCP&L's parent company, First Energy. And the night of the viewing, there was a two-hour line to get in. More than 2,000 people signed the guest book.
"It was a horrible night for me, but people were there for us," she said. "I still get choked up about it."
She hopes through this scholarship, her son, Richard will be remembered for the amazing man he was.
"He loved everybody — he loved life," said Grande. "He was one of the happiest people you could meet."
The Scholarship Fund can be found on Facebook.