(Why I belong by Bob Farmer)

Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club

The following is a published letter to the Editor of the Sun about why belonging to the club is so significant to my family.

Bob Farmer

May 31, 1989

Editor, The Sun:

The following is about how close my family came to one of the worst tragedies to strike Bremerton this year. On Friday, January 6, 1989 an East Bremerton man was robbed and murdered. Four boys are charged with this crime. One of these boys, Melvin Stohs, was convicted last Friday of first-degree murder and is to be sentenced to life imprisonment without a possibility of parole.

What is scary is my own son could have been involved. Melvin is one of my son's best friends. My son usually spent his Friday evenings with him. Instead, on the day of crime, my son was participating in the New Years Tennis Tournament at the Bremerton Tennis and Swim Club.

My son prepared for this tournament for several weeks. He took lessons from the club tennis pro, Dan Kelner, and practiced as much as he could with his tennis friends. He played the "B" Mixed Doubles and "B" Singles in this tournament. These tennis matches proved to be the greatest games of his life.

I hope this impresses upon parents and the community the importance of personal involvement with children. I believe bored and lonely children get into trouble. What may have kept my son from being involved in this terrible crime was his involvement with tennis. This placed him in the healthy environment of the Bremerton Tennis and Swim Club, instead of the street climate of drugs and crime.

As a father, I am thankful to everyone who made the Bremerton Tennis and Swim Club happen. I'm grateful to everyone who showed my son how to enjoy tennis - to Dan Kelner, his tennis coach, to his doubles partners and many other friends young and old. My son is certainly not bored or lonely when he is with his tennis buddies.

Something must be done to provide all of the youth of our community activities such as my son enjoys. To have prevented this terrible crime would have saved this community at least the entire cost of the Bremerton Tennis and Swim Club and the YMCA combined. How much will it cost to prosecute, defend, and incarcerate these four boys? The emotional price may even be worse.

Even though this crime is terrible, I am grieved for my son's friends, and their families. There are more victims in this than just the one murdered. We are all in this together - friends, parents, and relatives of all involved. I would have done almost anything to prevent this crime. Maybe the least I can do is to plead to the community to help provide choices for the next boy, like Melvin, who may be tempted into drugs, violence and crime.

Robert F. Farmer

Note: Seven years later, David is still an active tennis player at the club. He has won several singles and doubles tournaments. The club is an important part of his life. Tennis is a life long sport.

The Crime

Crime: Murder and robbery Victim: James Toney

Date: January 6, 1989

Convicted: 4 of my son's friends

Ref: Bremerton Sun, Jan 10-12,1989, May 26, 1989

Last Updated on 05/25/04