PLEASANT GROVE — The knowledge that Samuel Evan Ives would have wanted to comfort those mourning him doesn't make the 11-year-old's death any easier on his friends or family.

But for hundreds of people gathered to grieve at Ives' funeral Friday, recalling memories of the would-be sixth grader's kind-heartedness and humor still brought brief smiles to otherwise sorrowful faces.

"If Sam were there today with us, he would have tried to cheer us up, it's just part of his personality," said Brad Rawlins, a friend of the family who spoke to the media about the memorial services. "He would have tried to make us happy. That was the role that he played for his friends and his family."

Ives died Sunday night when he was attacked by a black bear while his family slept in a primitive campground in American Fork Canyon. Necropsy exams on the bear have shown that the animal was a healthy, non-rabid, 370-pound male, Division of Wildlife Services officials said Friday.

The attack that killed Ives was the first recorded fatal black bear attack in Utah.

Some 500 friends and relatives remembered Ives at his funeral services in Pleasant Grove Friday morning, playing music and telling stories of the boy's love of life and consideration for others.

"Time and time again, what came out through (the funeral) was that here was a young boy who didn't want people to be unhappy," Rawlins said. "He would go out of his way for people."

Rawlins said one time his 9-year-old son, Spencer, had a bad bike accident while he was playing with Ives. Ives treated Spencer like a younger brother, Rawlins said, and when Spencer crashed, Ives helped him onto his motorized scooter so he wouldn't have to walk home injured. Then Ives walked Spencer's bike home himself.

Ives was always kind to his friends, said Marbe Campbell, whose son, Malcolm, was friends with Ives. In the wake of Ives' death, Campbell says her son and his friends have reminisced about Ives' good nature and resolved to be more like him.

Ives never ridiculed his friends, and he never got frustrated with them, Campbell said.

"I really think that because of the kind of boy Sam was, that (Sam's friends) are better because they knew him and they will come out of this stronger," Campbell said. "They've already shown incredible maturity in being able to say that Sam was always kind and quick to forgive and he didn't call names and 'We want to be like Sam.' I think they will come out of this always remembering Sam and being grateful that they knew him."

Campbell is helping to organize a tree-garden memorial for Ives with the help of his friends and their parents. The memorial will be placed at Valley View Elementary School, where Ives went to school. The garden will include trees, which will be chosen by Ives' family, a bench and a memorial plaque to honor Ives.

Other people in the community have also reached out to the Ives family.

A Boy Scouts of America troop in Pleasant Grove has been collecting contributions for the Wells Fargo Samuel Evan Ives Fund at this week's Strawberry Days festival. Troop 1168 will continue to collect donations today at the boutique in the city's community center until 5 p.m.

The troop doesn't know the Ives family, but Belinda Haderlie, who helped organize the effort, said the Scouts wanted to "show our support of the family."

Ives' family members said they are grateful for how the community has helped them.

"We want to thank everyone for the phone calls and the acts of sympathy," said Kay Francis, Ives' grandmother.

Eldon Ives, Sam's grandfather, said the family had received so many acts of kindness, gifts and prayers that thanking everyone involved in supporting the family is difficult.

"We have heard from people on the West Coast to Virginia in the East and from Idaho to Arizona in the South," Eldon Ives said. "We know that it is impossible to be in contact with the many, many people beyond this, whose hearts have been touched by the events of this week. We are sincerely grateful to the many people who have given generously to the family, including love, support, service, gifts and flowers. Our family cannot thank you all by name publicly, but we want everyone to know how much this means to our family. Your kindness has helped us in many ways."


E-mail: achoate@desnews.com