By Katie Garwood | firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Alford hadn’t even been at Flagler College a full semester, but those who knew him say their lives are better because of him.
On Nov. 29, the freshman passed away from natural causes, and this week his friends and professors gathered at a memorial for Alford to share his legacy with the college community.
Alford was remembered as a compassionate, caring, peaceful spirit by those who spoke at the memorial on Wednesday, and someone who served as an inspiration to treat others the same way he did.
Harrison Redd, met Alford on their first day on campus, and the two quickly became best friends. He and Alford had been making plans for the rest of their lives, which included making a movie, producing music and creating a clothing line. The two often watched “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” together.
Alford turned Flagler into a home for Redd, and without him, “the campus doesn’t feel the same. It shines a little less bright.”
Walking into Alford’s room to see he’s no longer there has been hard for Redd.
“I wish I could find it quick and easy way to move on, yet remember everything you taught me,” Redd said. “My fear is that day will mark the end of my youth, so I will do my best to never come upon it …
“I love you so much and thank you for the impact you made on my life. I can’t imagine my life without you. I love you with all my heart.”
Alford’s girlfriend, McKenna Kovatch, felt inspired by his intelligence. Because he was “so talented and passionate,” about so many subjects, she worked harder in her classes to be able to talk with him.
“What started out with me wanting to be able to keep up with his competency did turn into a genuine curiosity,” Kovatch said. “And he noticed this too. And this is something I’ll always thank him for. He really helped me see the beauty in everything around me.”
Their conversations were about anything and everything, and often included words of encouragement and reassurance.
“He wanted to see me, and everyone around him succeed,” she said.
In the time Matthew Brown, Alford’s oceanography professor, had him in class, he knew Alford was something special. Not just in his inquisitive, curious nature, but in who he was as a person.
Alford would frequently drop by Brown’s office to talk about classes, his major and his future. In the nature of the oceanography course, the class often goes on field trips, allowing Brown to get to know his students more personally.
Brown traveled to Columbus, Georgia, earlier in the week to attend Alford’s funeral in his hometown, where he learned more about the student who meant so much to him. He met Alford’s family, friends and many others who knew him. They only confirmed to him what he already knew.
“What I heard from each of these people is what a kind, loving, caring, supportive son, brother, and friend he was,” Brown said. “In a short time on the planet. Josh reached a level of compassion of caring most of us will only strive for.”
He called Alford “a light in a rainbow,” and described him as a peaceful, caring, compassionate person – a similar portrait to what others painted of him that night.
“Thank you for giving me the pleasure of meeting you, getting to know you in our time together on this earth,” Brown said. “Thank you for inspiring me to be a better human being, to be more compassionate, more loving, more patient and more kind. You will live forever in my heart and I’m so thankful that our paths crossed. I am a better man for having known you.”