Australian diplomat Mauro Kolobaric spoke of friendship and healing in Duncan on Wednesday, but some of the most touching words were from the father of Christopher Lane.
Peter Lane wrote the letter to the people of Duncan to be shared at the Duncan Rotary Club luncheon. It was shared 18 days after his 22-year-old son was killed in a drive-by shooting as he jogged along Country Club Road.
As Kolobaric read the letter, about 100 people in a Simmons Center banquet room sat silent and still. Clearly they were moved.
“The people of Duncan need to understand that we know they are a fine community that holds dear the values that Chris was taught to embrace — family, education and career,” Peter Lane wrote. “In these tough times I will ask that they continue to embrace these values as a cornerstone of their community.”
Sarah Harper of Duncan, Christopher Lane’s girlfriend of four years, and her parents, Randy and Cindy Harper, attended the luncheon, as did Duncan Mayor Gene Brown and Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford.
The Harpers gave Kolobaric, consul general of the Australian Embassy in Washington, a uniform shirt and cap of the Essendon Baseball Club, Christopher Lane’s team before he came to the United States to play baseball for East Central University in Ada.
Kolobaric met with Sarah’s parents at their home Tuesday, the first day of his two-day visit to Duncan. He made the trip at the “reach out” request of Butch Whitten on behalf of Duncan Rotary, and he talked with Sarah and her family before Wednesday’s luncheon.
Kolobaric read the entire letter from Peter Lane. He who wrote that his son was no longer chasing his dream of playing Major League Baseball. He had given that his best shot but knew “where he stood as an athlete.”
“He was now chasing the life that his journey had offered — family, education and career,” the letter said. “Whatever else happened, family was at the core for good or for bad. When Chris got to the USA he found a girl, Sarah, and then a family that embraced those values.”
Peter Lane wrote that his son believed education was the gateway to opportunity and a working career was next in his journey.
“He and Sarah were talking about where that would be and would good-naturedly argue with each other about whether Australia or the USA or more particularly, Oklahoma and Duncan, were best,” the letter said. “It was an argument conducted with a certainty that wherever one was, the other would be.”