Updated 01/23/2013 06:17 PM
Memorial service marks one year since fatal fire
The Marist College community marked one year since the tragic fire that took three young lives. John Wagner has more.
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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Marist College prides themselves on being a tight knit family. What we saw Wednesday was students and staff whose lives were touched by three well liked students, surrounding their families, lending a hand during an emotional week.
“I couldn't have gotten through this last year without having their support,” said Barbara Block, Eva Block’s mother.
Families of three victims are left with three benches, dedicated in their names. Marist College honored Eva Block’s Jewish faith, placing rocks nearby as part of an enduring memorial.
Barbara Block said, “Eva is our special angel watching over us all and I hope no one has to go through what I've gone through.”
Devastating for four families, Those of three students and one student body, 2012 is described as one of the toughest years in Marist’s history.
"It really shook us to our core, but also brought us to our core, to our senses that we are a family, that we are a community that cares about those who belong," said Brother Frank Kelly, Marist College’s Director of Campus Ministry.
Three promising students died all too soon in a late night fire. Kevin Johnson was a fun loving communications major who had transferred to Dutchess Community College and two others who should have graduated last May, Kerry Fitsimons, a hardworking bio med major and fashionista Eva Block, a design major.
"They all had great spirits and a zest for life and I know they would have gone on to great things," Marist College President Dennis Murray said.
Left in place of the fire is now a new home rented again by Marist students. For those who remember all too well, the college opened a counseling center and a chapel to light candles.
Kelly said, “It’s not the same. It'll never be the same, especially for those directly involved. They’ll always carry this as a heaviness in their hearts, but today is all about celebrating their lives and the gift they were to us."
Last May, Johnson was made an honorary member of the class of 2012. Fitsimons and Block were given posthumous diplomas. To mark the tragedy’s year anniversary, benches.
Murray said, “Both physically and spiritually, they'll always be part of this college community.”
"I know that she is in heaven. She is an angel. I only wish she could have continued on." Barbara Block said.
Fitsimons, Block and Johnson loved life together and now are remembered together. Marist says their names and spirits will continue on.