Danny Bruce Boone was remembered yesterday as a gentle man who would do anything to help his friends and family, all of whom feel his death early Saturday has removed an important part of their lives.
"His family can never replace what has been taken from them," said Tami Grabowsky, a neighbor of the Boone family. "The people involved need to have the decency to come forward."
Mr. Boone, 45, a part-time bartender at American Legion Post 191 in Mount Airy, was killed after a fight that erupted during a wedding reception at the hall. His body was found on a nearby road shortly after state police arrived to break up the brawl between guests and legion employees about 1:15 a.m.
An autopsy showed that Mr. Boone, of the 2600 block of Walston Road, died from a blow to his forehead. State police investigators said they spent yesterday questioning reception guests to determine the cause of the fight and Mr. Boone's death.
Ms. Grabowsky said family members are distressed that newspaper reports of the altercation have implied Mr. Boone was somehow responsible for the fight.
"He would walk away from any kind of conflict," she said. "Whatever the papers have said, he would have only been involved in that conflict to defend himself. He was the kind of person to take care of other people."
State police detectives reported that they believe Mr. Boone walked out of the legion post when the fight started and before troopers arrived. He was pronounced dead at the scene after troopers found him lying on the ground in the 100 block of Contour Road, a short distance from the post in the 800 block of Prospect Road.
"Everyone who has talked to me said how wonderful he is," Ms. Grabowsky said yesterday from the Winfield funeral home where Mr. Boone's family and friends were mourning. "He never hurt anyone."
Born in Frederick in 1948, Mr. Boone spent most of his life in Mount Airy and knew many of the local residents, she said. A graduate of McDonogh School, a private school near Owings Mills, Mr. Boone was a builder with Richmond American Homes.
"He was my friend," Ms. Grabowsky said, amid tears. "He was open and warm and inviting. His wife called him a rough diamond."
Even though Mr. Boone grumbled, friends and family members knew he was a caring and supportive person at heart, very devoted to his wife and family, Ms. Grabowsky said. He and his wife, Deborah A. Biegun Boone, had been married for 23 years and had three children, she said.
"He was a wonderful father and a wonderful husband," Ms. Grabowsky said. "He worked nonstop. That was what he was doing when he was killed, working to support his family."
His children are Heather Lynne, 19, Lauren Marie, 10, son, David Andrew, who turns 14 today , Ms. Grabowsky said.
"He had his own way," she said of Mr. Boone. "He didn't say much very often, but when he said something, you knew exactly what he meant. You never had to ask twice.
"If you ever needed anything, he was there without asking," Ms. Grabowsky said. "Whatever he had, he shared. He gave of himself and his belongings.
"He was the only man in his [extended] family who took care of the whole family. He was a father figure to all of them."
Mr. Boone was an active member of the Mount Airy American Legion and served as co-captain of the legion's color guard. He was an Army veteran of Vietnam.
An avid golfer and runner, Mr. Boone also enjoyed bowling, fishing and basketball. He coached baseball in Mount Airy and Winfield, and helped coach soccer in Gaithersburg.
In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Boone is survived by his mother, Hallie Wilson Boone of Mount Airy, and his sisters, Carol Ann Robertson of Frederick, and Becky Wagner and Kaye Boone, both of Mount Airy. He was also the son-in-law of Barbara J. Biegun of Phoenix, Ariz., and Edward J. and Wendy A. Biegun of Richmond, Va.
Family members will receive visitors at the Burrier-Queen Funeral Home in Winfield from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the funeral home. The Rev. Fred P. Eckhardt, chaplain of the Mount Airy American Legion Post, will conduct the ceremony. Interment will follow in the Prospect Methodist Church Cemetery in Mount Airy.