‘He can never be replaced’

Students, community honor late Samuel Martinez at vigil

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Students were handing out candles and small, square programs as groups gathered in front of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house.

ATO’s Gamma Chi chapter held a candlelight vigil at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday to honor Samuel Martinez who passed away on Nov. 12.

At around 5:30 p.m., bells were tolling in the distance as a group of people consisting mostly of fraternity members and WSU students exited the fraternity house and lined up on and around the large porch.

A man began speaking as rain started to drizzle on the attendees.

“The purpose of this event is to celebrate his life, share stories and to help one another as we make it through this difficult time,” he said.

Andrew Mischke, ATO’s president-elect, welcomed the attendees and asked for a moment of silence to honor Sam.

“Sam, wherever you are right now, I promise I will be the best person I can be,” Mischke said.

A close friend of Sam began to speak, describing how they met in ninth grade. He said Sam was one of the sweetest people anyone could ever meet.

A memorial service, he said, was held last weekend for Sam in Bellevue, Washington.

“Sam was more than a 19-year-old student who died from alcohol,” the friend said. “He was a brother [and] a son.”

He said one of his favorite memories with Sam was when they were carpooling together from dinner with another friend.

“I wish I could see Sam one last time and tell him how much I love him,” the friend said.

Gabriel, an ATO member, said he met Sam through the fraternity. He shared a Bible verse from the book of Matthew with the crowd and described how much he loved and missed Sam.

“I loved Sam as if he was my blood,” Gabriel said. “I hope that one day I will see him again.”

Another one of Sam’s friends began to speak. He said Sam was always smiling and would want everyone to be happy.

“[Sam had] a smile you couldn’t replace,” the friend said.

He said Sam was someone who he trusted and kept him sane. The friend said everything bad seemed to go away when Sam was around.

“We could sit and do absolutely nothing,” the friend said. “We probably laughed at everything we saw or heard.”

The friend said Sam was selfless. He said not a day would go by without him remembering Sam and the impact Sam had on his life.

Steve, a pastor from an on-campus church, spoke. Steve said he did not know Sam, but he has learned a lot about him from those close to Sam.

Steve said the community should take the time to grieve. Grieving is not a weakness, but a strength, and a part of the healing process, he said.

“Death is painful for us left behind,” Steve said. “The purpose of tonight is to continue the grieving and healing process — not to end it.”

Steve ended his speech by reciting the hymn “Be Still My Soul.”

Another man began to speak. He led a prayer in honor of Sam.

“A part of us has died and he can never be replaced,” the man said.

Jordan Jameson, ATO house director, said the entire fraternity is saddened by Sam’s passing and grateful for the support the house has been receiving from the community.

Jameson thanked everyone for coming and he, along with a large group of fraternity members and WSU students, entered the ATO house.

Slowly, the crowd of attendees dispersed into the street.

The rain was pouring on the attendees and speakers as they left and flames on the candles began to flicker out. By the closing of the vigil, all but two candles were put out.