Family, friends, and classmates shared their sorrow, grief and fond memories at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in honor of Mark Hollaway, 14, who died from the flu.
The Westfield High School freshman was remembered as quiet and a bit shy but with a ready smile and a generous spirit. His godmother, Yolanda Davis, said the support of those who came out to pay tribute to the boy she described as like her own son was a "blessing."
Lanre Badmus, who organized the vigil as well as a Facebook page RIP Mark Hollaway as a tribute to the friend he was still just getting to know, described Hollaway as "one of those rare kids who made a good impression on everyone."
"He was his mother's only child," Badmus said through tears. "I can't even imagine what his family is going through right now."
Friends agreed Hollaway's passing has reminded them to let each other know how much they care. Several recalled saying goodbye to the teen on Friday, Jan. 11 saying, "See you Monday" never thinking they wouldn't have that chance.
"You've got to let people know how much they actually mean to you," said a classmate.
While Hollaway's is the third flu-related pediatric death in New Jersey this season, his has been reported to be the first without an underlying condition.
In a statement issued Wednesday, WHS Principal Peter Renwick said, "My heart goes out to the student’s family and friends. Our teachers and counselors are ready to provide support and guidance to classmates as we grieve this loss together."
Funeral services for Hollaway will convene at noon on Friday, Jan. 25 at the Christian Pentecostal Church, 971 Clinton Ave., Irvington, N.J. Visitation is from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Visit http://www.plintoncurry.com/ to sign the guest book or for additional information.