The memorial for Laughlin that was found with the bust.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Gail King needs your help.
When the North Carolina resident and New England expatriate returned to the area this summer to help clean out the home of the recently deceased Jean Ann King, Gail found among her things a bust sculpted by Jean's daughter, Ruth Ellen King, who died in 2013.
With it was a newspaper clipping with a memorial for the sculpture's apparent subject, Keith W. Laughlin.
And that is where the trail goes cold.
The clipping is not an obituary, which would list survivors, but a poem that only references Laughlin's "Mom, Step Dad, Brother, Sisters, Nieces, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Friends." Laughlin's date of death is given as 2002; he was only 32 when he died.
It does not identify any of Laughlin's family members by name or even give a clue about his town of residence, or when the memorial was published. King is not sure whether the laminated news clipping is from The Berkshire Eagle or the now defunct North Adams Transcript.
She does know the bust meant something to her niece, Ruth Ellen, and she would like to see it end up in a good home, namely that of Laughlin's family.
"She did this [sculpture] when she was quite young," Gail King said. "She wasn't an artist, but I think she did it in school as a project. Ruth graduated from Hoosac Valley [High School in Cheshire]."
According to her February 2013 obituary on tributes.com, Ruth Ellen King, who died at age 35, was a member of Hoosac Valley's class of 1995 and worked at Big Y Supermarkets for 15 years.
"I went to Adams Town Hall and asked if there was a death certificate [for Laughlin]," Gail King said. "There wasn't. But he could have been from Cheshire or Adams or Pittsfield. … Then I stopped at a couple of places in Adams and asked if anyone knew the name.
"I went to the Adams Public Library and looked at the Hoosac Valley yearbooks for a stretch of five years around when he would have graduated, but he wasn't in there."
Gail King is hoping that by getting the word out about the bust, she will be able to connect with Laughlin's family members and give them something else to remember him by.
"I really don't want to throw it away," she said. "I figure someone must know this kid. If Ruth knew him, maybe one of her friends knew who he was."
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