Friends, family gather for unveiling of Andy Moffitt Trail and plaque - News - By Steph Willems Nepean/Barrhaven Local Community News
Friends, family gather for unveiling of Andy Moffitt Trail and plaque - News - By Steph Willems Nepean/Barrhaven Local Community News

Friends, family gather for unveiling of Andy Moffitt Trail and plaque

Posted Nov 11, 2010 By Steph Willems

photos by Steph Willems, EMC News

EMC News - For Rod and Paulette Moffitt, parents of slain University of Ottawa student Andy Moffitt, Oct. 27 couldn't have been more beautiful.

The morning that saw their son's name permanently affixed to a wooded Barrhaven trail dawned brilliantly sunny and unseasonably warm, while the outpouring of support from friends and community members added to the comfort of a day 12 years in the making.

Andy Moffitt, who grew up in Barrhaven and resided briefly in Brockville along with his two brothers, died of a stab wound in an Ottawa restaurant two days before Christmas 1998. The computer engineering student, who was intervening in a fight to protect his friend, was 23 years old.

Andy's final, selfless act of bravery was recognized with a posthumous Medal of Bravery, but until this day his legacy only existed in the hearts and minds of those who cherished his company. Now, thanks to the City of Ottawa's Commemorative Naming Program, residents who never met Andy can learn about his life as they walk the Andy Moffitt Trail in what was formerly known as Edgeware Park (commonly known as Berrigan Woods).

The woods are located on the south side of Berrigan Dr., between Greenbank Rd. and Longfields Dr.

Joining Andy's parents, grandparents, and brothers Rod Jr. and Michael for the official plaque unveiling were friends, old neighbours, as well as Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown and Senator Bob Runciman. All supported the idea of the naming.

"It's amazing how many paths (Andy) crossed in life," said Barrhaven ward Coun. Jan Harder. "There have been many stories shared over the past few months, and they wanted to do something special...We started to look around and thought about where Andy lived. We started to think that this was a great place, and if you look into the forest behind me, I think you'll agree."

With a voice that sometimes cracked with emotion, Paulette thanked the large crowd on behalf of herself and her family for their tireless support.

"Even in death, Andy continues to have an impact on so many people everywhere," she said. "Andy was born, raised and lost his life in Ottawa. Andy didn't get to live out his life and see all of his dreams come true because of a terrible act of violence. Parents are not supposed to bury their children - losing Andy broke our hearts and changed us forever. We only had one wish for Andy, and that was that he never be forgotten. Today our wish has come true."

Paulette described how Andy, a graduate of

Thousand Islands Secondary School in Brockville, was an "outdoor kid," constantly involved in sports and outdoor recreation. Naming a wooded trail after him was "so fitting."

"I hope that everyone who walks down Andy's trail will be inspired by him to be the best that they can be," she said. "Now all of Andy's cousins and friends will be able to bring their children for a walk down Andy's trail...Andy will never be forgotten now - generations will come and read his plaque, and they will pass on his story. This trail is Andy's legacy."

The commemoration brings with it as close to closure as is possible, said Paulette.

Also on hand to speak was Andy's best friend Craig Wells, who named his son in Andy's memory.

"He was always the one encouraging others to take a chance, whether it was encouraging others to learn a new hobby or skill, or taking a last-minute road trip to New York City for the weekend. He was always there to give up his time and himself for others, as evidenced by his last selfless act to come to the aid of a friend...To Andy, this (community) was home, and he always planned to return here. Now I feel in my heart that he has come home. I look forward to visiting here with my son as he grows older, and tell him the true meaning of the word 'hero.'"

The last to speak was Andy's brother, Rod Jr., who described the 12 years he and his brother spent growing up in Barrhaven, a community he would like to return to with his family. He thanked the City of Ottawa and the staff of Harder's office for their help in having their wish realized.

Half of the money to pay for the trail came from the office budget of Harder, and half from the city's department of parks, recreation and culture. The large boulder that the plaque will be affixed to was recovered from the Southwest Transitway dig, which is occurring adjacent to where the trail will be located.

The ceremony concluded with the cutting of a special cake adorned with the words 'Andy Moffitt' and 'Welcome Home'. Speaking after the ceremony, Paulette said that to see everyone who knew Andy all in one place was "very touching" and shows that her son will never be forgotten. "It says a lot for Andy - he loved everyone, and wanted everyone to be happy. He's happy today, and I'm sure he's very proud."

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother