GREENFIELD — Sammy Teusch’s radiant smile lit up the screen Wednesday morning at Brandywine Community Church, as hundreds gathered to say goodbye to the 10-year-old boy the community has embraced as their own.

The Greenfield fourth-grader reportedly took his own life May 5, which his parents say was the result of relentless bullying, but the message at his funeral was one of hope and love.

“I’m beyond words over (the support we’ve) seen in this past week,” said Sammy’s father, Sam Teusch, who sat alongside his wife Nichole by their son’s open casket throughout the hour-long service.

As people filed into the church shortly before 10 a.m., images of Sammy flashed on the screen.

Patrons attend the funeral of Sammy Teusch at Brandywine Community Church. Sammy Teusch, 10, died earlier in the week from an apparent suicide. An investigation of his death is still ongoing. Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

There was one of the blue eyed, blonde-haired boy casting a fishing line into the water at sunset, and another of him hugging his beloved dog Daisy, who would run alongside him around the pond behind his home.

Another picture showed Sammy as an infant, gleefully grinning in a highchair, with noodles clutched in his tiny hands and spaghetti sauce covering his face.

Sammy had a smile like no other, said his family’s friend and next door neighbor, Andrew McIntosh, who delivered the young boy’s eulogy.

McIntosh recalled meeting members of the Teusch family shortly after his family moved into their Greenfield neighborhood, one filled with two-story homes on well-manicured streets teeming with kids.

“I couldn’t help but notice the large army of kids that were always in the neighborhood … There were dirty-faced boys playing football and baseball and soccer balls everywhere. There were girls chatting away and walking around the neighborhood giggling, the sidewalks filled with skateboards and scooters,” he said.

“What I noticed is, no matter how many kids were in the neighborhood, they always seemed to be coming out of one particular house,” said McIntosh, referring to the home of the Teusch family, who he said was always happy to embrace the boisterous bunch.

McIntosh lovingly recalled the first day he met Sammy, who had quickly befriended his son Judah.

“Right there in my hallway was a handsome little boy that I swear could have been pulled right out of an Andy Griffith episode or a Norman Rockwell painting,” he recalled.

Sammy had been hiding inside a box, “all knees and elbows,” said McIntosh, and popped out “with the biggest grin on his face … I couldn’t help but giggle when I saw him. I knew immediately that my son had made a good friend.”

McIntosh said Sammy’s bright smile is something he’ll never forget.

“He just looked up at me sweating, those glasses that rose up on his cheeks over a smile that was way too big for his little face … He had a smile that extended several inches past the sides of his face,” said the father of four. “But when he did smile, and I mean really smile, he just seemed to suck the darkness out of every corner in the room.”

McIntosh said Sammy’s resourcefulness and sense of adventure was unmatched.

“I remember coming home from work one day and one of my kids comes running in yelling for everyone to come outside and see what Sammy did. We had a lot of those stories,” he continued.

On that particular day, Sammy had gotten into his dad’s toolbox and removed the training wheels from McIntosh’s 5-year-old son’s new bike.

“Suddenly, around the corner, here comes my 5-year-old riding the bike like he’s been riding it for years. Now it had taken me several weeks, months even, to train my older kids how to ride a bike … and Sammy had somehow pulled it off in a matter of a few short minutes,” he recalled with a grin.

In working with children and families over the years, McIntosh said he has experienced being by a parent’s side when they’ve received word about the death of a child, “but nothing, and I mean nothing, prepares you for this,” he said, referring to a child’s suicide.

“I would dare say for most parents, your child taking their own life wasn’t even on the list of worries. But now it has become very real for all of us. What was something we only thought about as news reels on television is now in our homes,” McIntosh said.

“While I even hesitate to bring up the circumstances surrounding Sammy’s passing, to do so would be ignoring the elephant in the room. It would be foolishness to bury it as if it didn’t happen,” he said.

McIntosh went on to encourage parents to have the hard conversations with their kids, to talk about the dangers of bullying and suicide, and to keep the lines of communication forever open.

He also cautioned against laying blame.

“Our natural desire as humans is to find the villain — someone or something to blame — and when we don’t have an answer, we start making ones up we create ourselves. In our heads, we put together a reason why this happened,” he said.

“We blame our neighborhood, we blame the schools, we blame our churches, we blame our politicians, but this line of thinking only leads to more destruction. First self-destruction then community destruction, whether it’s in your neighborhood or in your school,” he continued.

Motorcycle clubs from in and around the state attend the funeral of Sammy Teusch at Brandywine Community Church. Sammy Teusch, 10, died earlier in the week from an apparent suicide. An investigation of his death is still ongoing. Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter


That’s not to say there’s not a lot of work to be done to fight against the bullying that some parents say runs rampant in schools, he said.

“We have a long way to go and, yes, we may have to actively work as a unified group. But instead of finding someone or something to blame, let’s work together to find a solution,” McIntosh said. “Begin having hard conversations that nobody wants to have. And these conversations shouldn’t be done in the dark, in corners, or on social media. These need to be conversations out in the open and face to face, and the first conversation needs to take place in our homes.”

Sammy’s father echoed that sentiment.

“Anger isn’t going to solve this. Hatred is not going to solve this. God did not take this little boy to teach hate. Teach your kids to love and let your kids know they are loved,” Teusch said.

McIntosh used his eulogy to not only memorialize Sammy but to urge parents to openly communicate with their kids, to go deeper than simply asking ‘How was your day?,’ but ‘What made you happy or sad today?’

“Students … let me say that no matter what you’re going through, it’s not bad enough that you can’t find someone to talk to you about it,” he said

“If you don’t have a parent to talk to, find a grandparent, find a teacher, find a mentor, find a coach. I know for a fact that … there are people that would love nothing more than to listen to you,” he shared, looking out over the young people in the audience.

“Each and every one of you has value. Your life is worth living. Whether you’re dealing with an abusive (parent), bullies at school, trouble with your personal identity, or feeling like you aren’t making a difference in the world, know that you are worth loving. And that there are people out in this great big world that would love nothing more than to prove to you how much they love you.”

McIntosh said suicide is never the answer.

“Suicide doesn’t get rid of the pain. It just takes that pain and gives it to others, and that’s not fair,” he said.

He also shared that it was OK to openly grieve.

Memorial messages at Brandywine Community Church. Sammy Teusch, 10, died earlier in the week from an apparent suicide. An investigation of his death is still ongoing. Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

“The Bible tells us that when even Jesus … saw the body of a friend that he dearly loved that he cried, and not just a sad movie cry … It was a big, ugly cry, and that’s OK. If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us,” he said.

While he acknowledged that some may be struggling with wondering why God would let a tragedy like Sammy’s death happen, he urged them to keep the faith, and to reach out out to a local church for support with questions or grief.

“The truth is no one answer I give you here today will take away that pain. No answer I give you will take away the anger or the hurt you’re feeling,” said McIntosh.

“I don’t know why God chose this path for Sammy, but I believe that God knows when storms are coming in life, and like any good father he had to say, ‘Son, time to come in now.’”