Religions and Spirituality

Friends and Supporters Gather at a Tearful Vigil for Mark Hollaway in Westfield

Students held a vigil for Westfield High School student Mark Hollaway, who died Wednesday from illness related to the flu. Credits: https://www.facebook.com/RipMarkHollaway
Lanre Badmus, seen here, was one of the event's organizers and helped create the Facebook page RIP Mark Hollaway. Credits: https://www.facebook.com/RipMarkHollaway?ref=ts&fref=ts

WESTFIELD, NJ—Tonight, Jan. 20, friends, family and fellow Westfield High School students of Mark Hollaway held a vigil on the front steps of the school for the ninth-grade student, who died from illness related to the flu earlier this week. It was an extremely sad night and a crowd of over two hundred came together in the dark, fighting the cold and the wind to pay homage to one special young man. For the majority of the night those with candles fought with the wind as it blew the flames.

The first speakers of the night included Mark’s mother, grandmother and godmother, who each described Mark “as a shining star.” He was a kind and caring person, someone who will be missed tremendously, they told the crowd. Mark’s mother, Angel Hollaway, repeatedly said how amazed she was about the support she had received from the high school community even though Mark had moved to Westfield from Newark just a few months ago.

Mark was remembered by some of his former classmates and teammates from outside of the Westfield community, as well. Repeatedly, they all stated they would not want to be anywhere else but attending this vigil and honoring and remembering their lost friend.

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Tears ran down the cheeks of those attending the vigil, and the constant sound of sobbing could be heard throughout the event. At times the sound was so loud it drowned out the speakers.

Lanre Badmus, one of Mark’s friends at Westfield High School, organized the event and helped create the Facebook page RIP Mark Hollaway. He described the event as, “A very special night. It was an awful thing that happened to Mark. It was something that should happen to no one, especially someone like him.” This sentiment was expressed by many others.

“He was a really good kid. He never did anything wrong, he is going to be really missed.” said James Scortino.

Mark was simply a very special person, many said. Those who knew him said he was very shy, but once you got to know him even just a little bit it became obvious just how special he was. He was a kind, humble understanding kid with a great sense of humor.

Another of Mark’s friends, William Fazio, had this to say: “He really cared for others. He could understand what they were feeling and always found a way to make them feel better.”

Mark is described as one amazing young man, someone who impacted every single person he met with his kind words and humor who will be missed by everyone in Westfield. As the RIP Mark Halloway page says, “You'll never be forgotten. We know you're in a better place, but selfishly, we all wish you were here with us. We love you Mark.”

Harry Wachtel is a ninth-grade student at Westfield High School.

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