Friends at home and far away rallied around Rick and Robin Gallup in the hills of Estate Carolina Wednesday as they prepared to honor the life of their 19-year-old son, Brook, who died in a single-vehicle accident early Monday morning.
Rick Gallup father recalled the events of the Christmas holidays preceding the tragedy — a bright and accomplished son come home from his first semester in college, a Sunday night family dinner, and a last glance at his parents from the doorway as he left the house to go off in search of some friends with whom to pass the time.
"Then I got every parent's nightmare, a call from the clinic at 3:30 in the morning," Rick Gallup said.
The time given on the death certificate was 3:15 a.m. Monday, not long after the call to police that a Suzuki jeep had flipped over on North Shore Road near Caneel Bay Resort.
As they began preparing material to go into a pamphlet for a memorial service set for Sunday, Jan. 2, at the Maho Bay Pavilion, Gallup said, he and his wife found themselves looking at the booklet done in memory of Ruby Rutnik, a 21-year-old St. Johnian and family friend who died in a car accident three years ago while attending school in Washington, D.C.
Like Rutnik, Gallup said, his child was an avid athlete — Ruby a hot-handed softball pitcher, Brook a nationally ranked snowboarder. "He was a serious snowboarder, ranked 16th in the country nationally," his father said.
As the Gallup family made the transition from their former home in Maine to St. John's Maho Bay Campground, young Brook took up boardsailing and went on to become a windsurfing instructor.
Taking up permanent residence on St. John was a natural progression for the family, Rick Gallup recalled. "My wife and I and Brooke had been coming on and off for 10 years, and we were working the summer program." This year all three family members had made some new career beginnings: Rick acquired a sailboat and starting a charter business, Robin began a private nursing service. Brook began his first year of studies at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Taho, Nev.
For a couple of years, Brook had been working part-time during season in the food and beverage division at Caneel Bay Resort — while still at home attending high school via a home- schooling program, and this month while on break from college. He had done a double shift at Caneel on Saturday, Christmas Day. Although the fatal car accident occurred near the resort, Gallup said, his son was off work Sunday night.
The memorial service for Brook is to take place at 2 p.m. Sunday in the place where the family's ties to St. John began — at Maho Bay Campground, where Maho manager Maggie Day remembered him as a "beautiful kid." Gallup said he hoped the service would focus on the rich, full life that his son lived, and not on its sudden end.
Some friends from the home schooling program Brooke had taken part in as a high school student faxed the family a copy of a poem he once wrote. As his father read the title, there was a catch in his voice: "Ode to the Memories of Childhood."


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