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Marlowe Fletcher, veterans advocate, dies

Veterans' advocate Marlowe Fletcher, center, thanks members of

Veterans' advocate Marlowe Fletcher, center, thanks members of the Patriot Guard Riders honor guard on May 2, 2010. Fletcher died of an apparent heart attack Nov. 9, 2012 while clearing debris near his hurricane-damaged home. He was 64. Newsday's obituary for Marlowe Fletcher
Credit: John Dunn

After his eldest son became the second Long Islander killed during the Iraq War, Marlowe S. Fletcher took it upon himself to try to console the loved ones of every area war casualty that followed.

Since his son's death in 2003 while in the Army, the Island Park resident has been a fixture at funeral services and graveyard ceremonies, standing solemnly with other mourners, often with a flag in hand.

"When we brought our son home from Dover, he was there to meet us at the funeral home," said Timothy Scherer, of Northport, whose son, Cpl. Christopher Scherer, was killed in Iraq in 2004. "He comforted us and helped us as only someone who had walked in our shoes could do."

Fletcher, 64, died of an apparent heart attack Friday while clearing debris near his hurricane-damaged home, according to his surviving son, Joshua Goldfeder.

His funeral is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, at Boulevard-Riverside Chapels, 1450 Broadway in Hewlett. He will be buried near his son at Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale.

"Mo was at every active-duty and killed-in-action funeral that the Patriot Guard has staffed since I've been here," said Jim McElroy, a statewide officer with the Patriot Guard Riders, a veterans support organization. "There were times his passion was farther than I would go, but it was always out of his determination to make sure respect was given to the fallen."

Born in Brooklyn, Fletcher enlisted in the Air Force in 1967, during the height of the Vietnam War. He served as an aircraft mechanic at Loring Air Force Base, in Maine.

After his honorable discharge in 1971, he married Dorine Kenny in 1973, and the couple had a son, Jacob. The marriage was short-lived, and Jacob grew up with his mother.

In November 2003, Army Spc. Jacob S. Fletcher was killed by a roadside bomb while returning to his post in Iraq. Soon afterward, Marlowe Fletcher began reaching out to families of other slain soldiers, offering any help he could give.

"We can't forget these soldiers," Fletcher said after attending the 2004 funeral of Marine Cpl. Kevin T. Kolm, of Hicksville.

His determination to honor slain troops could at times be overbearing, several individuals who knew him said. But they say there was never a doubt that he wanted to help.

"He would call me every time a soldier passed, and I said, 'Mo, I can't do this,' " said Emily Toro, whose son, Isaac Cortes, was killed while serving with the Army in Iraq in 2007. "But because of him, I learned to heal. I owe a lot to him."

Fletcher is survived by Goldfeder, 19, who lived with him in Island Park.

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