‘He always brightened up the room:’ Tobey Alford remembered at vigil
Sariya Shepherd will miss Tobey Alford’s sweet smile and warm hugs the most.
“He was sweet and he was kind and he was always thoughtful,” Sariya said about 14-year-old Tobey, who died on April 24 after being hit by a car while riding his bicycle on Sandwich Road. “There’s no way to explain how he was. He was always bubbly, and he always brightened up the room.”
Sariya was Tobey’s friend and eighth-grade classmate at Wareham High School.
She, and hundreds of mourners, gathered at the high school softball field on the night of Thursday, April 27 for a candlelit vigil in memory of Tobey.
Mourners could write messages for Tobey on two large sheets of tarp. Sariya wrote the lengthiest messages, about how she was grateful to have had Tobey in her life, if only for a brief time.
Those who knew Tobey invariably described him as a loving friend who dedicated his young life to selfless service.
“Every time [Tobey] walked in a room, his smile lit it up,” said eighth grader John Varden, surrounded by his classmates as he delivered a eulogy to his best friend. “He put so many others before himself, and his heart was filled with love and kindness… When I found out that he passed away, I felt like I had something ripped out of me.”
Tobey planned to attend Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in the fall. There, he would have pursued his dream of becoming a landscaper. He and his father Paul helped to maintain the grounds of Evangelical Zion Church, where they worshiped.
“He was a solid young man who was well-respected by all,” said High School Principal Scott Palladino. “I never heard a student or staff member say anything negative about him… He got along with everyone.”
Tobey had recently started working at Shaw’s. In his spare time, he enjoyed riding his bike, listening to music and working out at the Gleason Family YMCA.
Eleventh grader Aliyah Brown knew Tobey since he was a toddler, from swim lessons at the YMCA.
“Tobey was a loving, caring guy,” Brown said. “Any time you needed help, he was there. There was never a day where he didn’t have a smile on his face. He was a strong, independent person.”
Sergeant Richard Ferguson of the Plymouth Police Department played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. Jesse Francese played “Taps.”
A representative of the Plymouth County Teachers Federal Credit Union announced that the union opened up a $2,500 scholarship account for Tobey’s twin sister M.J. Alford.
The vigil was organized by Aidan Dillen, president of the High School Key Club. When he heard the news of Tobey’s death on Monday, he felt the need to do something in his honor.
“I have a brother of a similar age,” said Dillen, a junior. “Putting myself in the family’s shoes, I would want some show of support. It means a lot to see everyone here.”