A gathering slowly grew in the eastern half of Western Springs’ Field Park on Friday afternoon. So did the adornments on one of the park’s trees: first flowers and a candle, then more, plus yellow ribbons, posters, balloons and stuffed animals.
The dozens upon dozens of people, mostly teens and twenty-somethings, spoke in soft voices or sat in silent remembrance of their friend Alvin, a 20-year-old La Grange resident and Lyons Township High School grad who was found dead in the park on Wednesday night, seemingly by his own hand.
As Alvin’s friends spoke of his life and much-treasured friendship, they again and again emphasized his bigheartedness and their bewilderment at the tragedy. One of his closest friends, Connor Prokaski, who had lived with Alvin and planned to start a band with him, called him a “perfect person.”
“He was just the most genuine, caring guy you could ever imagine,” Prokaski said. “If you needed money, if you needed anything, he dropped whatever he was doing to help you.”
“He was always able to make people laugh and smile, no matter what,” added Ruba Al-Abed, Alvin’s girlfriend. “He put everyone before himself… I just hope he knows how loved he was.”
Jason Dent, an aspiring hip-hop artist under the name Shadow, gave a brief eulogy saying that Alvin would want them to remember his life, not his death. Dent said that only one week earlier, Alvin had saved his life by talking him back from the brink of his own despair over his music career.
“He spent from 10:00 at night to, it had to be like, one or two in the morning trying to convince me not to kill myself,” Dent said. “I was homeless in the street—he’d give me food [when] a lot of people just didn’t care… The only thing I can say is, Alvin himself was a man who was pure-hearted and living in a contaminated world.”
Alvin was passionate about motorcycles, his guitar and his own Romanian heritage; friends called him very family-oriented. He was both studious and industrious, working multiple restaurant jobs. The number of mourners was tribute to his gift for sociability, especially with new people.
“He was the one person I told everything to, the one person I trusted the most,” said friend Syd Hawley. “If I was scared, or sad, or mad, he would always be there to comfort me. He was just such a great guy. No one would ever be able to replace that, ever. No one was like Alvin.
“He was unique. He was different. He was great, just such a great guy.”