A week after the accident that would claim Nicholas Coleman’s life, his family, friends, and community gathered at Leete-Stevens Funeral Home in Enfield to remember the Somers High School senior.
The line to pay respects snaked through the halls of the funeral home, out the door, and around the building. Cars lined the street in front of the funeral home, down the side street across from it, and people were even parking in the Eli Whitney Elementary School parking lot and walking down to the funeral home.
Once inside, there were many hugs and tears, and also many smiles and memories shared.
Cody Roy is also a senior who has known Coleman for as long as he can remember. He said that these last few days have been the hardest he has ever had to deal with, and he feels most people in the school can say that. Everyone loved Coleman, 17.
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“There’s absolutely nothing bad you could say about this kid,” Roy said. “He was the nicest kid I’ve ever known. I’m so happy to have known him and be his friend.”
One thing that Roy has noticed is the entire community coming together and everyone sticking together and talking about Coleman. He feels that the talking, instead of bottling everything up, has made the mourning easier and has brought everyone closer together.
As a group, Roy says they are more open with each other and can talk about how they are feeling, because it is a common feeling. He said that they are unafraid to shed tears in front of each other.
“It’s acceptable and we can talk to each other,” he said.
For Roy, the hardest part is at the end of the day when he is going home, is alone, and has time to think about things.
Andrew Fenton, another close friend, said that it really hits him when he goes to a class that he shared with Coleman and his friend isn’t there.
When they think about the good times, Roy and Fenton both smile, remembering their friend.
For Roy, one memory is when he was first learning to ski and Coleman took him down a black diamond slope, telling him it was a bunny slope. Roy could see a straight drop, but Coleman left, so he had to go.
For Fenton, it is Coleman’s laugh that sticks with him. Fenton said that no matter what kind of day he was having, he could tell Coleman a corny joke and his friend’s laugh would put in him a good mood.
“Nick makes me feel like the funniest man on earth because he’ll laugh at anything I say,” he said. “After I hear that, there’s no way you can’t smile.”
Both friends remembered how smart Coleman was – top five in the class and aspiring to go to Cornell – and how he had an answer for every question. They said he could even help them with homework for classes he wasn’t in.
Somers Booster Club Co-President Richard Tynan, who has known Coleman and his family for a long time, added that Coleman was a member of the future Business Leaders of America and won the state championship in accounting last year. Coleman was also a former National Honor Society member and he was one final project away from Eagle Scout. He will be laid to rest across the street from the Boy Scout Lodge that he helped to build.
According to Tynan, Coleman was the first to volunteer for everything. He worked the snack bar at all basketball games and the grill at football games.
Coleman was an avid skier, and was always the first to crack a joke.
Tynan said that he had a summer job working with small children in a local park and he was famous for saying “Don’t worry I got it” during his seemingly endless volunteer activities.
“Nick was the kind of kid that was not a member of the cool crowd, he was a member of all crowds,” Tynan said. “He quietly went around and did good things and never ever expected anything in return.”
According to Tynan, Coleman loved being a student at Somers High School and he ran his final cross country race hours before his death on a leg with a stress fracture, refusing to see a doctor until after the meet because it was “my last race.”
Tynan calls Colman the “quintessential person.”
“A genius by anyone’s standards, yet so humble that you would never know,” he said. “Not the greatest athlete, but so proud to wear the school uniform. Content to play his minutes and cheer on the others when not on the field.”
“Nick was a treasure and he is gone,” Tynan said. “It doesn’t seem real – his poor parents. So many people have come to me and lamented the fact that Nick was going to do something great and how all that was lost. I disagree. Nick showed us how humility and greatness co-exist. Nick showed us how participation is as necessary as stardom. Nick showed us that volunteering is a pleasure not a chore. Nick showed us that living life with passion is the way to be. Nick showed us that loving and honoring your parents and your school are cool.”
He continued, “I don’t think we lost something, I think we just realized all we gained by his being here and then God called him to go fix up some other place. That is who Nick Coleman was. He will always be missed.”
If you would like to make a contribution to the Nick Coleman Fund, contact Tynan at 860-280-6505. A memorial scholarship fund is being started.