WEST ORANGE, NJ - Avery Ernest Ellington Thompson, 17, was a junior at West Orange High School who passed away on Feb. 12 after a long and valiant battle with leukemia.
Avery was a talented singer, rapper, songwriter, voice impressionist and film maker. He is survived by his parents Joshua and Stephanie, and a sister, Jaden, as well as a large and supportive extended family and hundreds of friends. A wake was held on Feb. 22.
Joshua Feinblatt, one of the West Orange High School TAP team reporters, had this to say about Avery, which echoes the sentiments of those that knew and loved him:
"Avery Thompson has been my peer, neighbor, and friend for a long time now, and yesterday he lost a battle to leukemia that he'd been fighting for two years. To say it is unfair that he has left us is an understatement to the highest degree. He was one of the nicest kids I've ever met, one who truly cared about everybody around him.
Sometimes I'd get caught up in my daily life and talk to him and he'd show concern for me. Meanwhile I'd think, this kid, who has cancer, is showing concern for my problems. This is a testament to how he put other before himself and truly cared for others.
Even when I visited him in the hospital or at his house he was always in the highest spirits, eager to see his friends and show off the new music or comedy he'd been creating. He once called me on my phone doing a Jerry Seinfeld impression, because he knew that Seinfeld is one of the only impressions I could do back with him. He shared with me a love of comedy and bouncing ideas off of each other was so easy and fun. He'd always offer to take me with him to do stand-up, and unfortunately that day never came, but I'm glad we could invent skits and jokes to make, if not anybody else, each other laugh.
When I first found out about Avery's passing this morning, I just cried, because I know that we've lost a genuinely fantastic guy that can never be replaced whatsoever. He will be missed by all the people that have been touched by him. We shouldn't dwell on the fact that he is gone, but celebrate everything he had accomplished. His concert was fantastic, he was a talented basketball player, his impressions were spot-on, he could sing/rap just as well as anybody in the industry, he was very intelligent, and the list continues on and on.
Avery, I will always remember the impact you've had on my life and try to emulate the type of person you were. You'll be in my mind every time I do comedy, and hopefully you'll one day be able to watch over me while I do my jokes and be able to laugh, just like you made me laugh every day. May you be a constant reminder about what really matters in life. I love you brother. May you rest in peace."
At last night's Township Council meeting, Lisa Renwick, an organizer for the Relay For Life event held each June at West Orange High School, said that at the Feb. 26 kickoff event at Codey Arena, that a moment of silence will be held to honor Avery. Relay For Life is a night-long event that celebrates the lives of cancer survivors and remembers those that have lost their battle.
A community celebration of Avery's life is planned for April 10 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.
To watch a tribute video of Avery, with Avery on vocals, go here.