Valentine’s Heartbreak | Messages

Valentine's Heartbreak | Messages

Valentine’s Heartbreak | Messages


A 13-year-old eighth-grader who committed suicide last month after being bullied at school had a funeral procession of a long line of trucks accompanying his coffin from Eugene, Missouri, to Jefferson City, where he has local connections. His mother lives in Farmington with several siblings.

Ashley Gilbert’s son, Dalton Frank, is the subject of a touching story by special correspondent Michael Daly, available on the Daily Beast website. When contacted by Farmington Press, Gilbert made it clear from the outset that she wanted the opportunity to share Dalton’s story.

“I want this to spread as much as possible because I don’t want another family going through it,” she said. “We’ve lost so many people over the past few weeks to what has become an epidemic of bullying.”

Dalton lives in Eugene with his father Sean Frank. Although the couple no longer live together, they remain firmly committed to raising their children together.

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“We were never married but separated on mutual terms because we were not happy together,” Gilbert said. “However, we remained strong friends and based on the love of Dalton and his sister Maggie the most. Favorable things co-parenting”

Gilbert received news of her son’s passing on Valentine’s Day, one of the worst moments imaginable.

“I just sent his older brother Nathan to work and was waiting for his other older brother, Casey, to quit wrestling practice,” she said. “His dad called me from Georgia. He was a truck driver. He told me that Dalton had an accident and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. That’s all he knew, he was turning around and shooting at Missouri.

“I tried calling Dalton’s grandma first, but got no answer. So, I called his grandpa Tom, who was the sheriff’s deputy, and he answered the phone and told me my son had passed away. It took me a few minutes to find out it was self-inflicted. Of course, I broke down, then grabbed his two older brothers and tracked them home in preparation for the trip to Jefferson City.”

After Gilbert and Dalton’s siblings arrived in Jeff City, their parents were comforted by their family’s grief – and each other.

“For the past week and a half, Sean and I have relied on each other,” she said. “His uncle and grandfather were also happy to help us organise the arrangements and team for Dalton’s last ride.”

Asked if anyone had noticed Dalton was depressed or heard him mention he was being bullied at school, Gilbert said: “No, he didn’t tell anyone but a few teachers and students. Honestly, that Was the part that shocked me the most. Because he always had a smile on his face and was a fool.

“We asked his brother and his sister if they got any information from their brother and they each replied ‘no’. We asked him if he had ever spoken about his bully. They all said ‘no’. And, of course, we blame ourselves for not noticing, but his behavior was never disqualified. He talked about his summer plans for polishing aluminum wheels at the shop so he could buy truck parts for his Chevy. He wanted to join the military and go to college There’s no sign of him having depression or suicidal thoughts…and he always has a beautiful smile.”

Gilbert said she was “surprised and humbled” that her guest book filled with more than 800 signatures during Dalton’s visit. Because of Dalton’s love for trucks, and his desire to one day be part of the team, his uncle Carey Frank organized a team to lead the way in his Peterbilt, Doyle Dayton’s father rode beside him, the boy’s coffin on the back flat.

“For his funeral and the convoy, over 200 truckers led the way,” she said. “Most people have never seen my son. And that’s not counting trucks and cars of all shapes and sizes, ColorGuard motorcycle escorts, the highway patrol and the local police department. Dalton’s motorcade exits Eugene The ramp goes all the way to the 179 exit ramp. The people who held the signs, the businesses that changed the billboards for him, I am totally humbled. My son touched so many lives, I cried and then I laughed. I know He was looking at us with his beautiful smile.”

Now, Gilbert and the rest of Dalton’s family will have to settle for their cherished memories of the teen.

“Dalton is [in Farmington] Often on school weekends, Christmas break, and then most of the summer with his sports schedule, of course,” she said. “He loved watching his brother Casey play football and wrestle for the Cavaliers. “

Reflecting on what she and her family have gone through to lose Dalton under such tragic circumstances, Gilbert has a strong message for other parents who don’t believe their children will kill themselves.

“I hope they realize this can happen to anyone,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how cute, versatile, outgoing or outspoken their kids are. It doesn’t matter if they play sports or have lots of friends. Dalton was an excellent student and well-rounded athlete – he did archery, track and field , youth baseball and shooting sports. He has many friends – six of his closest friends and his two older brothers were asked to be pallbearers. He has dreams and thoughtful plans for his future.

“Parents need to have tough conversations. Talk about how wrong it is to bully. Make sure to ask your child over and over again and don’t let them ignore you. Talk to their friends and get to know them. That way their friends will be ‘willing to come to you if something goes wrong’ you. Adults also need to stop bullying. All you do is teach your kids that it’s okay because mom and dad do it. “

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741 to contact the Crisis Text Line.

Kevin R. Jenkins is Managing Editor of Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or

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