Family, friends and community remember JJ Marino

Alicia Balog

“God took from me, from all of us, an angel.”

That was what Joseph “JJ” Marino’s father said as he looked out at the crowd with tears in his eyes, wearing a button with his son’s face on his chest, close to his heart, at the vigil Tuesday night to remember the 23-year-old who passed away Sunday.

People walked along a sidewalk lined with candlelit milk jugs brightening the way up to the yellow house where JJ lived with his friends.

Sobs echoed across the yard as people shared their memories and thoughts about their son, brother and friend.

“I’ve never been so close to a person ever,” one guy cried, his voice breaking, as a woman placed her arm around his shoulder.

A slideshow of photos of JJ played on a screen, and laughter mixed with sobs as people saw who JJ was and what he did.

“40 degrees and out walking without a shirt on,” one man said, a smirk spreading across his face.

His fraternity brothers spoke about how JJ changed their lives and how their favorite memories were the ones spent with him.

One talked about how he could talk to JJ anytime about any of his problems.

“Whenever you gave him your deepest, deepest, darkest secret, he sat there and smirked.”

Yet JJ would always listen.

“And he would just sit there and listen, and I would tell him ‘Joe … Joe… do you have anything to tell me?’ ‘Yeah I’m not sure what underwear I’m going to wear tonight.’”

A childhood friend of JJ’s shared memories of sitting on his front porch, drinking his mom’s Kool-Aid and eating popsicles.

“I was flying out here today, and I was looking out the window, and the sun was shining down through the clouds, and JJ will always be shining down on all of us.”

Another friend wanted people to remember JJ for his jokes.

“He goes, ‘I definitely believe in the sock monster, but maybe the dryer ate it. This socks.’”

JJ’s father said this is the hardest thing he has to do.

“I’m waiting for him to come home some time and then come in and say, ‘Hi Dad. Hi Mom,’ and flip on the couch and watch T.V.,” he said

He asked to crowd to just remember JJ for who he was.

“He brought smiles to all your faces as he did mine and my wife’s,” he said.

After a moment of silence, fraternity brothers and family members raised a toast as the crowd raised their candles high.

“To JJ!”

“To JJ!” everyone echoed.