Family, friends, classmates, teachers, town and school officials filled every seat at Messiah Baptist Church in East Orange, Friday, to remember and celebrate the life of 16-year old Tamir Harry, who was killed in an August drunk driving accident.
Harry, 16, and Kervin Noel, 21, were killed in the Aug. 6 crash at the intersection of Essex Avenue and South Fourth Street in Maplewood. Harry's older brother, Tahsir, 20, and Rodney Lovius, 21, were seriously injured in the accident. Harrison Allen of Montclair was charged with vehicular homicide and aggravated assault by auto in the incident.
We are here to celebrate his life, which for some of us, has been too short,” said Elder Wayne Brunson, officiator of the ceremony. “I know that some of you label this as a funeral, but this is a homecoming ceremony. I'm not going to tell you not to cry, but after a while, God promises to wipe the tears from our eyes.”
Everyone who spoke, reminisced about Tamir's intelligence and willingness to help others. Patricia Cuttino, Counselor at Essex High School said he was truly 16-years old in that he always loved cracker jacks, and would even buy bags for his classmates if they did not have enough money.
“Smart,” “loving,” “selfless,” “funny” and “courageous” were all words used to describe Tamir.
Brian Harry, Tamir's uncle, recalled a trip to Trinidad in 2010, where Tamir showed intelligence in discussing genetics and courage when he entered the water despite eight to ten foot waves.
“He was bold and courageous and he did things his way,” he said. “He was quick, he was smart, he had a huge heart, he loved, he lived and he did everything to his fullest. I hope that we continue to be as close after today. Let's keep Maplewood and Essex County close and keep all these families close.”
“We will stay together as a community,” said Maplewood Mayor Victor De Luca. “I did not know Tamir but I feel he is my neighbor and my brother. I think that is what has happened in our community, we have come together even stronger in looking out for one another and understanding the value of a community and family.”
Floral arrangements in the shape of a football, basketball and logo of the New York Giants stood at the front of the church as Ronnie Hickman, Commissioner of the Maplewood-South Orange Pop Warner Football and Cheer program, where Tamir played.
“When you see an obituary and you see this person was born this day, and then there's a dash and then the day they leave us, I'm reminded that that dash represents our lives,” he said. “What you need to work on from this day forward is what will this dash read when you die.”
“This right here is a lesson, this could happen to anyone, the way he went was a tragic way to go but it lets you know, you never know when the last time is,” Hickman continued. “These little arguments we get in with each other, let it go, it's not worth it, if you get in an argument with your brother, go to your brother and say 'I'm sorry.'”
“Two things in life are guarenteed, if you live you are going to die, but in the midst, get it right, because life is short,” he concluded.
Tamir is survived by parents Pamela Ferguson and Bevan Harry, brothers Tahsir Harry, Mark Ferguson, sister Taniyah Ferguson of Maplewood, paternal grandparents Ivan and Hilda Harry of D'Abadie, Trinidad, Tobago, maternal grandfather William Teasley of Newark, uncles Brian Harry of Houston, TX, Nigel Sangster, Roger Sangster, Frederick Linton and Victor Russ, aunts Beverly Harry-Emmanuel, Bernadette Harry and Bridgette Harry of Trinidad and Tobago, Tracy Green of Newark and Cortina Martin of Irvington.