The Harford County Council went ahead with its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night, despite the looming loss of Council President Billy Boniface's son, Ben.
Councilman and vice president Dick Slutzky, who sat in for Boniface in his absence, thanked his colleagues and the council staff for their assistance in keeping the council running under "very difficult times."
"This has been a very difficult few days for everyone," Slutzky said.
He sent his thoughts and prayers to the Boniface family, as did all the other council members.
"I can't think of anything that's sadder or more sorrowful than this situation," Slutzky said.
Councilman Joe Woods said, despite being a longtime firefighter, he still never knows what to say to people in these kinds of situations.
"We're definitely a little off our game tonight as we mourn the loss of one of our extended family," Woods said about the council that evening.
"Council president, I'll help you out with anything you need. Just ask," Woods said publicly to Boniface.
Councilman Dion Guthrie said he and his wife have six children, and "can't imagine having an event like that."
Councilman Jim McMahan thanked council administrator Pam Meister and the staff for this "very difficult week," and thanked Slutzky for handling the night's meeting.
McMahan said each of the council members have dealt with the situation in his or her own way.
"We were all saddened as a family. Tragedy beset this county, all of us, and the administration as well, and the reaching out by the county executive and members of his administration and members of the council was appreciated very much by the Boniface family," McMahan said.
"In his usual leadership style, Billy told us, 'Carry on as I know you can,'" McMahan said. "I hope we did, Billy. I hope we did. God bless."
Councilman Chad Shrodes said he was already confronting the loss of a popular principal this week and the near-death of a close friend.
With the news of Ben Boniface, "that just blew me away," he said.
Shrodes recalled "that big smile" and said he knows it will be tough for the Bonifaces for many years.
Shrodes said Ben "was a fine, young, polite gentleman, and I know he's going to be missed by his thousands of friends and family."
Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti remembered the Bonifaces in her opening prayer, and said the council's thoughts will be with the entire family.
She also read aloud the visitation and funeral arrangements, noting the council office has received a "tremendous" number of calls asking about the arrangements.
She said the funds being raised for Ben in lieu of flowers is a tribute to a "beautiful" young man.