Xavier Small remembered as 'fiercely loyal friend' at memorial service

YPSILANTI, MI   Xavier Small will forever remain a charismatic, energetic 14 year old, captured in the memories of his classmates,friends and family members who gathered Friday, June 10, 2016, for his memorial service.


Xavier, whose friends called him Zay, died June 1, 2016, at Washtenaw International Middle Academy in Ypsilanti, where he was in eighth grade. His mother, Claudia Small, believes he fell off the roof of the school, and Ypsilanti police said he suffered severe head trauma that contributed to his death.


But none of that was mentioned at Friday's memorial service, which drew approximately 300 people to the ballroom at Eastern Michigan University's Student Center. Instead, the focus of the evening was to celebrate Xavier's life and the many people he impacted in his 14 years.http://www.cheapshirts2016.com/


Xavier's own words best put the occasion in perspective.


His teacher Bethany Vonck, one of several people who shared memories of Xavier at the service,<a href="http://www.cheapshirts2016.com/">polo shirts</a>  brought up an American literature assignment where students were asked to find a quote that had significance to them.


Xavier chose an Albert Einstein quote that hangs on his family's refrigerator: "Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."


"In his words, 'It means to try to find the light in dark. Some things are good, some things are bad. A good situation can have negative effects, and a bad situation can have good effects. And that's life, accept it or not,'" Vonck said. "Can you hear him saying that?"


The memorial service embodied Xavier's personality. Attendees signed in on Marvel posters, Xavier's favorite kind of comics. Signs Xavier's friends had made to pay tribute to him were displayed, featuring inside jokes and promises to never forget him scrawled in colorful marker.


The program was laid out like a comic book titled, "The Life and Times of Xavier Kierdan Dean Small: A memoir of a precocious teenager, est. March 1, 2002." Filled with photo collages of Xavier joking with his mother, posing with his brothers and smiling pictures of his friends, the program outlined different "chapters" of the service where people had the chance to share memories of Xavier.


Different facets of the loving, intelligent, creative, quick witted boy's personality were revealed as family friends, classmates and teachers took their turns at the mic.


Teacher Tammy Duda Church, along with Vonck, laughed about how it could be a challenge to keep Xavier's energy focused in class and how that ultimately fed into his love of reading. The school social worker suggested he pick up a book any time he got the urge to say something that might get him in trouble in his elementary school class.


He became an avid reader, accumulated Accelerated Reader points in the gifted and talented program at his elementary school and dreamed of attending the University of Michigan to study environmental science. He was a U M football fan and played football in Ypsilanti youth leagues, looking forward to conditioning with the high school team this summer.


Ypsilanti boy who died at school 'always had a joke or a quip,' mother says


Ben Edmondson, Ypsilanti Community Schools superintendent who acted as "narrator" at the service, noted Xavier's influence on those around him in how the community came together following the tragedy of his death. He commended Claudia Small on the remarkable sons she raised.


Multiple people talked about Xavier as a "fiercely loyal friend," and three of those friends   Traye Purnell, Jozlyn Powell and Jefferson Adam   shared some of their favorite times with Xavier, drawing plenty of laughs from the crowd.


"He always made sure to keep his friends close and he took care of most of us. At least he gave me candy a lot. I gave him pizza so it was a fair trade off," Adam said. "Although our time was short and he may not be with us anymore, I will always remember him now and forever as a brother and family."http://www.cheapshirts2016.com/


Family friend Linda Brooks closed the service with a message to live life to the fullest with no regrets, which she based on an anime series Xavier had been reading called "Attack on Titan: No regrets."


Xavier Small is survived by his mother, Claudia Small, and her partner, Tiana Leveston; father, Jerome Dean; brothers, Walter Walker, Jermone Dean II, Jaden Dean and Jordan Dean; grandparents, Danella and Willie Small; aunts and uncle, Katharine Small, Jose and Karla Cruz and Lesley Vareha; as well as a host of other family members and friends.