Hundreds of mourners adorned in purple shirts, ties, blouses and dresses filled St. Joseph's Church to its capacity Wednesday morning to give a final farewell to 17-year-old high school senior Nick Hein.
Purple was Hein's favorite color.
"He was just a kid that no matter what type of day you were having, after five minutes of talking to him he was making you smile," said Matt Cahill, 17, a Kings Park High School senior.
"If someone was sad he’d go up to them and try to make them as happy as they could be, just a good-hearted kid," added Harley Chendemi, 17, also a high school senior.
Chendemi, who moved into the school district at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, said Hein was the first person to introduce himself at the school, and they were friends ever since.
In his eulogy, Rev. Sean Gann often touched on the impact that everyday decisions make on us all, but that it is the culmination of decisions, not one that will define us. He expressed the wish that so many adults want – to protect the young and to keep them from having to face the cruelties of life to early.
“We try to protect you and this morning we can’t protect you from the reality of life,” said Gann.
Readings were given by family members including Hein's older sister Kayla.
The funeral was the culmination of an emotional few days in Kings Park including a candlelight vigil and a wake service where mourners stood on a line that stretched outside of the funeral home to pay their respects.
The district provided busing from the high school to the church and has offered grief counseling since Hein's passing, which both Cahill and Chendemi said has been a big help.
"The counselors didn’t get involved, they were there for everyone just to get together and if you needed to go to them you could," Cahill said.
"They weren’t being pushy at all, they let us have our space and if we needed them we’d be able to go to them," added Chendemi.