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‘Notes to heaven’

Family honors anniversary of young man’s death

October 23, 2012
By JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

LAKE PLACID - Oct. 22 is an innocuous date to most.

But for one local family, it brings back difficult memories. Tupper Laker Henry Staves remembers being out in the woods that day in 2005 when his son came to get him. His son didn't tell him until they were home that Staves' grandson, Tyler Breton, had died in a car crash in Virginia Beach, Va.

Breton's mother, Marla Staves, tries to make the anniversary of her son's death a positive experience.

Article Photos

The family of Tyler Breton releases 21 balloons into the sky Monday at the Lake Placid train station to mark the anniversary of the then 21-year-old’s death.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)

"I call it his angel-versary," she said Monday.

Every year she gathers members of the extended family together, and they release balloons into the sky from a different place. Last year, it was from the Tupper Lake home of her parents, Henry and Charlene Staves. The year, before she was allowed to drive up Mount Morris, the mountain the Big Tupper Ski Area is on. This year, the family did it at the Lake Placid train station.

Most of the balloons have notes attached to the strings - messages family members wrote to Breton.

"We write notes to heaven," Marla said.

Not all of them are for Breton, though. There are 21 balloons, because that's how old Breton was when he died, but there are a few colored differently to honor other people. One is to honor one of Marla's best friends, Mike Mihill, who died about a year ago, and another balloon, a lime green one, is to honor Josh Peck, a 20-year-old Tupper Laker who died after a car crash this summer on the way home from a concert. Marla is close with Peck's mother, Jenifer Peck.

Breton's sister, Alyssa DeVito, and her 2-year-old daughter, Echo Tyler, were two of the family members who gathered this year to release the balloons at the train station, across the street from their home. Echo was named for her uncle Tyler's echo from heaven, as the family likes to say.

DeVito wore a black, hooded sweatshirt with the name "Tyler" on the back, with a heart design in the middle and the years he was alive, 1983-2005, at the bottom. Marla said she has the same sweatshirt in white.

Marla's brother, Greg Staves, was her son's best friend. He also sent a balloon to the sky with the family Monday.

In addition to the balloon release, Marla cooks a dish each year on the "angel-versary" that Breton used to like when he was young. This year, shepherd's pie was on the menu.

Breton went to school in Tupper Lake, AuSable Valley and Virginia Beach. His father, Daniel Breton, lives in South Carolina, and he has another sister, Courtney Breton, who also lives in South Carolina.



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