Tears and heartache at prayer service for slain SFS student
It was a devastating sight.
TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo’s troubling trend of gun violence continues. And on Saturday, resulted in the death of a 17-year-old St. Francis de Sales student. Marvelous Walton will be remembered for a lot of things — mainly his contagious smile.
“I can’t get his smile out of my head,” said Bruce Gradkowski, the former head football coach for St. Francis de Sales.
“He just had a really infectious smile,” said James Starks, defensive back coach at St. Francis de Sales, and morning anchor at WTVG.
Those who knew Walton best, including members of his senior class and school staff, gathered for a prayer service at Gesu Catholic School.
It was an emotional service, which ended in tears and heartbreak from his fellow knights.
“Marvelous had that effect on a lot of guys. I mean, these are guys that grew up with him — since they were kids in kindergarten and they go through school with him. And your brother, that just happened to- and another side of it is the strong bond they have here at St. Francis,” Gradkowski added.
Gradkowski and Starks both have fond memories of the teen.
“There’d be times I’d look over my shoulder and I got guys talking in the back, and he’s always part of it, but he was just an infectious personality,” Starks said.
“Marv was working, so he came up to me in his Panera gear, and ‘Hey coach! What’s up?’ and I was like ‘Hey! What’s goin’ on?’ I had literally just got the job, so I’m getting to know guys, so from that point on, I called him Panera. So, even if he’d showed up late to practice, I was like ‘Panera! What are you doing? Run! You’re late!’ And even if he’d show up late, man, he had that big grin on his face,” Gradkowski recalled.
When it comes to preventing the next gun tragedy, District 1 Toledo City Councilman John Hobbs III admits our city’s officials don’t have any solutions.
“Honestly, we don’t have any answers right now to the continued, senseless violence in our city. I wish there was an answer, I’m not gonna stand here and tell you that we have one,” Hobbs explained.
The councilman acknowledges our community’s frustration with that fact, but adds that we all need to hold each other accountable — and continue to be upset, not just when something as tragic as this happens.