WEST ORANGE, NJ – The family, friends, teachers and teammates of Brendan Tevlin (Class of 2013) and Billy Zimmerman (Class of 2011) gathered at the Seton Hall Preparatory School’s (SHP) Kelly Athletic Complex on Saturday as the high school officially dedicated the Brendan Patrick Tevlin ’13 Memorial Field and Billy Zimmermann ’11 Scoreboard.
The ceremony marked a monumental day for the school, as it commemorated two Seton Hall Prep graduates who both died at age 19 in March 2013 and June 2014. Brendan Tevlin, a Livingston resident, died in a fatal West Orange shooting in June of 2014, about a year after Billy Zimmermann of Far Hills died in a car accident a few weeks shy of his 20th birthday.
In the three years since Tevlin’s death, friends and family from many communities, including West Orange, Livingston, South Orange, Maplewood and beyond, came together for the common goal of remembering the SHP graduate by renovating the turf field in his name. Energized by Brendan’s spirit and united by his motto, “Good vibes and easy living,” according to Msgr. Michael Kelly, the SHP community has finally been able to fulfill that promise.
“Brendan represented everything that we teach our young men to be,” said Kelly. “He led by example and was truly admired by his peers and teachers. Brendan touched so many lives in such a short period of time, and this was witnessed by all of us with the outpouring of support for Brendan’s family and friends in the months following his passing.”
Brendan’s parents, Allison and Michael Tevlin, and his three siblings, Michaela, Brian and Sean, officially cut the ribbon at the Brendan Patrick Tevlin ’13 Memorial Field during the ceremony on Saturday. On behalf of the family, Allison thanked the friends, family, members of the SHP community, and countless others who supported this mission for their “encouragement and generosity along the way.”
“It goes without saying that we wish we didn’t have to be here, but we are forever grateful to everyone for realizing our vision of an appropriate way to honor Brendan’s memory at his beloved SHP,” she said. “Brendan would be humbled and honored to know that this field bears his name.”
Allison said her son exemplified all of the ideals that SHP represents and that the bonds he formed there ran deep. According to his mother, Brendan earned the respect of his teachers, staff and classmates and developed into a young man who recognized that service toward others is part of living life.
While at SHP, Brendan excelled in academics, participated in countless clubs and events, and was a member of the lacrosse team. He was also a talented bagpiper who took pride in marching the Pirates football team onto the field and playing at many other events.
“When I was asked to talk a little bit about who Brendan was, I thought back to something a friend of Brendan’s from college wrote about him shortly after we lost him,” said Allison.
Comparing Brendan to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby,” the friend wrote:
“He had a demeanor that invited you, whoever you are, to be yourself. There were no missteps with Brendan Tevlin. He accepted you for who you are and connected with you through his infinitely relatable sense of humor. For those who didn’t know Tev, or didn’t know him well, you were unlucky. I honestly believe the world would be a better place if there were more like him. I think it is the duty of his friends and those who experienced his ability to bring all types of people together through acceptance to continue accepting people for who they are.”
After reading this passage, Allison encouraged those at SHP to let this new field be “a representation of goodness and acceptance; a place where faith, family and friends are ever present, along with Brendan’s spirit; and a place for good vibes.”
“Our family would like to thank Msgr. Kelly, Msgr. [Robert] Harahan and the entire SHP community for allowing an idea that was initiated through grief and despair to be a vision carried out with purpose and love,” she said. “Raising funds for this field, although bittersweet, has been a part of our healing process and has brought us endless support from across the nation…Thank you all for being here, for your ongoing support and your continued prayers for our family.”
Allison also thanked the Zimmermann family for their generosity, support, kindness and friendship over the last three years. She said the Tevlin family is honored to have the two young men remembered together in a place they both loved.
On behalf of the Zimmermann family, Bud Zimmerman expressed the family’s enthusiasm about the new scoreboard contributed to the field in memory of his son, Billy, who played soccer for SHP and loved the family atmosphere of the SHP community. Bud stood with his wife, Sue, and their children as they cut the ribbon and officially turned on the lights for the Billy Zimmermann ’11 Scoreboard.
“I have often heard so many refer to Billy as a special person, a friend to everyone, someone who loved life and enjoyed every minute he had, and just how his smile could light up a room,” said SHP Headmaster Msgr. Robert Harahan. “Billy was indeed a Prep man—the kind of young man we aspire for all our students to live like and to be like.”
According to Harahan, SHP will be holding a series of celebrations like this one over the next few months to dedicate new fields and buildings that have been constructed after a five-year capital campaign.
On behalf of SHP, Msgr. Kelly thanked the West Orange Police Honor Guard, the Bagpipers of the Shillelagh Club and many other dignitaries for attending the ceremony on Saturday to honor the lives of these two former students.