Susan Kelly Watkins, 60, died peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Sunday, March 9, 2014 following a long and courageous battle with cancer. A military wife and daughter, she had been a Hampton resident since 1997. She had a strong Christian faith and was a member of Liberty Baptist Church. She worked for Roberts Oxygen for many years before retiring to care for her parents. Her greatest love was for her family and especially her grandchildren. She is survived by her husband, Lawrence D. Watkins; her parents, Jesse and Cecilia Stroud; her three sons, Brian K. Kelly and wife, Meredith, Paul B. Kelly, James C. Watkins and wife, Amber; her daughters, Andrea N. Strickhouser and husband, Kevin and Nicole D. Kelly; her grandchildren, Alli and Lexi Strickhouser, Lilly Kelly, and Carter Watkins; and many other loving family members and friends. A funeral service will be conducted at 11:00 AM Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Bethel Manor Chapel, 1793 1st Ave., Hampton by Rev. Thomas Bell. The family will receive friends at the chapel immediately after the service. A private interment will be held in Albert G. Horton, Jr. State Veterans’ Cemetery. Arrangements by R. Hayden Smith Funeral Home.
As we went through the gate, I turned and saw the smoke rising and thought of Kahil Gibran’s words: For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the Sun? As of today, we still don’t know why Trey wanted to leave us.
It was a pleasure to see you at the ISB reunion this past weekend in Nashville. Attached you will find a PDF of the letter that my mother wrote regarding the circumstances surrounding my brother Trey’s death. This is the same letter that you used your phone to copy. I thought that the PDF would be useful to you. Please feel free to use as you wish to update the information about Trey on the ISB Network website. I spoke with Jon Cole at his book signing. He remembered Trey and thought that he had been killed on train tracks. I’m sure there are others who have incorrect information regarding the circumstances of Trey’s death. I’d like to correct the record about how Trey died. Hopefully my mother’s account can fix that. For the record, my parents’ names are Gus and Ida Akerland. Trey was named after his grandfather and father. He was the third, thus the nickname of “Trey”. I also know that I am now probably the only living person who was there when Trey died, and if I don’t get the record corrected then it will always be a mystery. I have always wanted to live my life openly and honestly and this is one aspect of my life that perhaps I can correct.
I could not have done this sixteen years ago when we first met at the Bangkok ISB 50th anniversary. That was the first time that I had been back since I attended ISB. I had the opportunity to go back to the building where we had lived and to stand on the spot where Trey had died. That certainly was a cathartic experience for me. Your presence in my life at that time has helped me to be where I am today to share this information with you. I am now 60 and it has been almost 50 years since Trey died. I know we each have our own life journeys to travel and this experience has been mine. Thank you for being apart of helping me have a greater experience of being whole.
I look forward to meeting again, Chuck Akerland ’76
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