By: Whetstone Staff

Candle flames lit up the faces of the hundreds of students, faculty and staff who attended the vigil in memory of Charles Conley on Oct. 18.

“I think it’s great the Wesley community came together in such dark times,” said freshman Pablo Perez.

Conley, 19, committed suicide on Oct. 17.

“I was shocked,” said freshman Alex Oliver.

Attendees were given white candles to hold throughout the ceremony. The first ones were lit on stage, and then passed through the crowd.

“Charles’ death is a tremendous loss not only for the family, but the entire college,” said Dr. William Johnston, president of the college. “He had enormous talent and self-worth, even though he didn’t realize it.”

Johnston and his wife, Susan, stood on the amphitheatre stage before the crowd.

As poems, prayers and memories were read, some could be heard sobbing loudly.

Football coach Steve Azzanesi spoke about Conley’s recruitment onto the football team.

“When I saw him [the night before he died], he was OK,” said freshman AJ Johnson. “He didn’t look stressed.”

Dr. Patricia Dwyer told the crowd how she had Conley in her Wesley Connection class.

“He started to talk about his mother,” she said. “He wanted to emulate his mother in his career.”

Conley had told the class how his mother always helps people.

“There are no words to explain,” Johnson said. “He was a cool dude.”

At the end of the vigil, members of the football team huddled together and students dispersed quietly into College Center.