Westfield Teen Who Died From the Flu Honored at Sunday Vigil (VIDEO)

Mark Hollaway was liked by all who knew him, friends recalled.

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.

Rob Galgano January 21, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Is this really the time or place to be asking that kind of question? And would you be asking it if Mark were white?
Southern Westfielder January 21, 2013 at 02:56 PM
There is no need Ito make this a racial issue Rob.
Southern Westfielder January 21, 2013 at 03:24 PM
I could care less if he were blue green yellow or red. If I know someone is using a Westfield address to access the school it doesn't matter what color they are
Lori Bennett January 21, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Channeling your anger through a comment after listening or reading about the vigil for this Westfield High School Student, is so inappropriate. You should turn your negative view and turn it around to see the positive. Isn't education the potential root to success? Why does it matter to you that this child possibly came here to live with his relatives so he could have access to a better education? His relatives are paying their taxes to live in this town - anyone living with them has the right to attend our schools. What a testament to our high school and all the professionals that work there, and the students, to rally and provide Mark and his family, who did not have a long enough opportunity to know so many students, with a beautiful vigil and face book page in efforts to memorialize him properly. Our schools are working hard to instill these kinds of morals, empathy and passion in our students - ideals you're obviously lacking , but it's never too late to improve and evolve to become a better person.
Linda Hollaway January 21, 2013 at 05:08 PM
To "Southern Westfielder" I'm Mark's grandmother, get your facts straight before drawing negative and false assumptions. I/ we my family was a resident of Westfield for over ten years. Still have relatives residing there. His mom moved back for many reasons. First, was/is because she LOVE the town. PERIOD!! Please have respect and find a quiet place.
John Barker January 21, 2013 at 05:24 PM
I'm really just astonished that it would even occur to you that this is the appropriate time and place for a comment such as yours, Southern Westfielder. And to Rob's point, it does appear racist since you seem to be making (false?) assumptions about this boy and his family which you would be unlikely to make if this were, say, a white, upper middle class boy. So sorry that this boy's family had to read your post, and I hope they understand that this is not how Westfield as a community is reacting to the tragic death of this child.
Southern Westfielder January 21, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I am sorry for your loss. May Mark rest in peace and may his soul touch us all on this day of reflection with the swearing in of our President on a day that memorializes MLK.
JERSEY GIRL January 21, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Your family is in my thoughts and prayers at this time. Please ignore posts on this blog, they dont reflect the thoughts of all the people in the town. I'm sure a few of us may know of a family or two who endured the screening process to get our kids enrolled in school, notorized letters etc, while other families, move out of town and keep their kids enrolled and no one is the wiser. Think it is just frustration, nothing directed at you and your family personally. I dont think this is the time to post negative comments, lets be respectful.
Rob Galgano January 21, 2013 at 06:44 PM
It was you who challenged the young man's residency, not I. To even consider doing so is callous and, to me, makes your motives suspect.
Robert F. Galgano January 21, 2013 at 06:46 PM
It was you who challenged the young man's residency, not I. Your motives in even bringing this up are suspect.
Mitch Slater January 21, 2013 at 11:09 PM
This might be the most racist comment I have ever heard. Shame on you whoever you are. I do not believe this is the "South Westfield" I have debated with- She/He would never sink this low. And Patch- if this is not inappropriate- I don't know what is..
South Westfielder January 22, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Mr. Slater, you are incorrect. The comments made by Southern Westfielder are not from South Westfielder (or at least this one). There have been several comments made by those pretending to be South Westfield, especially as it relates to this child's passing that have been disgraceful. I have reported the disgusting comments to The Patch and had as many as could be found removed. More happened to show up today.
South Westfielder January 22, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Mr. Slater, I Should have read your comment more closely. You did correctly state that South Westfielder (the real one) did not write such disgusting and racist remarks. Not only have I contacted Patch myself to report the abuse, but I have changed my name. Any South Westfielder name that is still out there is not me. The Patch has been very helpful and removed the ugly posts that we could find.
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) January 22, 2013 at 01:00 AM
A comment above has been deleted. We ask that readers, out of respect for the Hollaway family, choose a different forum for discussions about residency and school enrollment. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please do so by sending it to liz.alterman@patch.com Thank you, Liz
mitch walker March 31, 2013 at 11:55 PM
It seems so unfair that death should have the power to take away someone you love.And when it happens, the thought of never again being able to talk to, laugh with, or hold your love one can be most difficult to bear! That pain is not necessary erased by being told that your love one is up in heaven. The Bible however, holds out a much different hope. It indicate that it is possible to be reunited with your dead loved one in the near future, not in an unknown heaven but right here on earth under peacful, righteous conditions with perfect health never having to taste death again (mankind number one enemy). Wishful thinking some may say. To believe in a promise, you would need to be certain that the one making the promise is able and willing to fulfill it. Please turn to John 5:21, 28, 29. Jesus promised that millions now dead will live again including (Mark Hollaway) under peaceful, paradisaic conditions. Since Jesus made the promise, it is safe to assume that he is willing to fulfill it..


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