Eagle Scout helps mentor reclaim a piece of his past

By Heather Barr
THE NEWS-TIMES
2001-11-27

 
Brian Fantel, left, and Bill Montgomery stand in the meditation garden at King Street United Church of Christ that Fantel completed for his Eagle Scout project. Montgomery, a landscape designer and Eagle Scout, helped him with the project.
Tim Wheeler /The News-Times

Brian Fantel, left, and Bill Montgomery stand in the meditation garden at King Street United Church of Christ that Fantel completed for his Eagle Scout project. Montgomery, a landscape designer and Eagle Scout, helped him with the project.

DANBURY — It was a perfect partnership. In the end, a church got a new meditation garden. A Danbury teen earned a Scouting honor. And a landscape designer regained part of his past.

The pieces all came together over the weekend at a ceremony at King Street United Church of Christ.

On Saturday afternoon, Brian Fantel received an award signifying his promotion to Eagle Scout. For Fantel, 17, it was, most likely, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

At the same ceremony, Bill Montgomery, 63, also received an Eagle Scout award. But for him, it was the second time around. He had become an Eagle Scout near Pittsburgh 49 years ago, but somewhere along life’s travels had lost the medal that goes with the honor.

It was Fantel who began the push to get Montgomery a new medal. It was just one way of saying thanks to the man who helped Fantel with his Eagle Scout project — creating a meditation garden at the church.

"I wanted to do this because the Eagle Scout award is something he should have. He worked to get it,” said Fantel, who spent about six years working toward his own award. "I thought this would be a way to show my gratitude by bringing something memorable back into his life.”

Every Scout must do a community service project to become an Eagle Scout. Fantel wanted to build the garden for the church as thanks for allowing Troop 52 of Danbury, his troop, to meet there. He is not a church member.

His Scoutmaster suggested he get in touch with Montgomery, a landscape designer and church member who had done other work on the church grounds. "He worked with me for a couple of months on what plants would be good for the garden,” said Fantel. "He was a really good mentor.”

The meditation garden sits in a corner of the lot, near the church’s cemetery under a dogwood tree. The small garden is filled with a ground cover called creeping phlox, Indian grass, shrubs and other plants. It has a sitting stone in the middle.

Fantel learned about his mentor’s lost award from Montgomery’s wife, Melody. Fantel then asked his former Scoutmaster, John Cooke, for help in replacing the medal. Melody Montgomery contacted her husband’s cousin in Pennsylvania. The cousin got in touch with local scouting officials, who were able to locate the records for the original award. Melody Montgomery then provided those records to Cooke, who sent them to national Boy Scout officials, who then supplied the replacement medal.

On Saturday, family, friends and fellow Scouts came to King Street United Church of Christ expecting only to honor Fantel.

Montgomery had been invited to be part of Fantel’s Eagle Scout Honor Guard, which escorts the Eagle Scout-to-be down the aisle during the ceremony.

After receiving his hard-earned honor, Fantel told the audience: "Now I want to thank someone that helped me especially and gave up many hours of his time to work with me. He is a great man.”

Fantel then presented Montgomery with the Eagle Scout award.

"I was shocked,” said Montgomery, who recalled he had also received his first award in a ceremony in a church. "I was delighted when (Fantel) asked me to be on the Eagle Scout Honor Guard...I had no idea of any of this.”

Cooke said Fantel’s efforts to restore his mentor’s medal showed the teen has learned the true lessons of Scouting. "Brian had demonstrated leadership and that’s what this is all about,” said Cooke. "He is a role model to young Scouts.”

Contact Heather Barr

at hbarr@newstimes.com or at (203) 731-3331.

 


 


 

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