The memorial garden spans the length of the side of the house. Stones with messages written by his family and friends are scattered throughout. Chairs and a bench are situated just so to sit and take in the serenity of the garden. A tree is painted on the fence with his family’s handprints dotted on branches as leaves.
This is just one way the family can remember Parker Killian Moore.
Moore, a 23-year-old Kathleen, Georgia, resident, was shot and killed on Jan 21 at his job at Barberitos restaurant in Warner Robins, Georgia.
According to Dana Heaton, Moore’s aunt in Middletown, the killer entered the restaurant through the back door and demanded money from three employees that were working. After getting the money, the robber fatally shot Moore.
Since his death, the family wanted to remember Moore in many ways. About $12,000 was raised through a GoFundMe page and is being used toward scholarships. Heaton and her husband, Bill, Moore’s uncle, also planted a memorial garden at their home in their nephew’s name.
Bill Heaton’s son, Nate, shared a birthday with Moore in March. For their shared birthday this past year, Nate Heaton wanted to honor Moore in a celebratory way.
“I told Nate for his birthday that we should create a family memorial garden for Parker,” Dana Heaton said. “We all did this as a family.”
On Labor Day, Moore’s family from out of town came to the Heatons’ home and had a celebration in the garden to remember Moore. Butterflies were released and messages were written on stones. Stones are a recurring theme in Moore’s legacy, as he loved skipping stones in a pond near his home.
“He was a free spirit, for sure,” said Bill Heaton. “He was a very unique, colorful guy who always had a story and was always involved in a story. Nobody had a harsh word for him.”
He said Moore got one free meal per shift at Barberitos. He said his nephew always gave away his meal to someone he knew who was homeless or otherwise down on their luck.
Moore’s grandmother Gail Killian, of Prosperity, South Carolina, described Moore as a “unique individual.”
“He had a larger-than-life personality, and everybody that he met, he made them feel like they were special,” she said. “We want to keep his light shining bright. We never realized the number of people that Parker touched in his 23 years. We can all take a lesson from Parker.”
Although Moore wasn’t from Maryland, Bill Heaton said he always visited the state and, with his love of photography, was always taking photos of nearby sites, such as Monocacy National Battlefield.
The family is also giving out scholarships through the Parker Killian “Gives” Moore Inc. charity, to students who study areas that Moore was interested in, including photography and animals.
Leah Maas, Moore’s mother, said so far scholarships have been given out to students in a veterinary technician program and a nursing student who is a single mom — as Maas once was.
A scholarship was also given to a boy who attended a marine life biology camp through Clemson University, a camp Moore once attended.
Dana Heaton said there are also plans to bring a scholarship to Maryland that will help a student at Frederick Community College.
“We started the charity because we wanted to keep Parker’s name in something positive,” Maas said.
She added that when someone types Moore’s name in Google, the family wants positive searches to come up, like the charity, and not stories about his being killed.
When Maas heard that her Frederick family was making the memorial garden in honor of Moore, she thought it was a nice gesture. But it wasn’t until she visited the Heatons on Labor Day that she was totally in awe.
“When I actually went out and saw it, it just sort of blew me away,” she said through tears. “It was just beautiful. It was so peaceful, and the colors were beautiful. All the little touches of artwork and little things that they had done it was very, very special. Parker loved being outdoors.”
For more information on the Parker Killian “Gives” Moore Inc. charity, visit www.parkerkillianmoore.com.