By ELIZABETH REFF, Contributing Writer and ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON, Staff Writer
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Last Friday, Kodi Kadeem Beckles was inducted into the Alpha Delta Phi Society.
Monday afternoon, his Greek family mourned him in Angell College Center’s Cardinal Lounge, where SUNY Plattsburgh officials invited students to go to share their grief with one another.
“They are virtually unable to speak,” society adviser Jon Chatlos said, “they’re crying so hard.”
Chatlos, an associate professor of English, met Beckles for the first time after the induction.
“I introduced myself to him afterward,” he said. “He was an upbeat, outgoing, happy, good-looking guy. He was thrilled to be a part of this group.”
Beckles, 20, had begun school at SUNY Plattsburgh in 2013 after graduating from Dutchess County Community College with a degree in criminal law, according to his Facebook page.
He was an avid sports fan, especially of NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder, said friend and fellow SUNY Plattsburgh student Michael Haynes.
“We always played basketball together,” he said Monday.
Beckles was heavily involved in campus organization Club Caribbean and was organizing a Miss Club Caribbean Pageant for later this month, Haynes said.
As a parent himself, Chatlos said, he was shocked to learn Beckles had died and is grieving for him.
“This is the worst possible thing that could have happened,” he said.
“The college will stay strong, and the society will help out and give all the help that we can, but as a parent, what an impossible loss.
“I don’t know how to deal with that.”
Chatlos appreciated the college’s quick response, making counselors and private space available for students who needed such support.
“I’ve taught at several other colleges,” he said. “I was at Potsdam, I was at Georgetown, I was at American University. Plattsburgh (is handling) the situation as well as any college that I know.
“I have spoken with the head of fraternities and sororities,” Chatlos continued, “who are already in touch with the national society for (Alpha Delta Phi). They’re going to be assisting.
“It’s going to be a remarkable network of support, but in an impossibly difficult time, we’ll be as good at this as we can.”
David Damiani, a Student Association representative at SUNY Plattsburgh, didn’t know Beckles well, though they had had a few short conversations.
But he felt deep sorrow for the Beckles’s family.
‘WE NEED ANSWERS, PRAYERS’
On Facebook, family and friends honored the young man’s memory by posting his photo as their profile image, among them Kodi’s father, Michael.
On the page of Kodi’s mother, Cheryl Thompson Beckles, Delarno Lewis wrote: “My heart is broken today at the loss of my dear nephew Kodi. “Yet through the tears will I sing praises to The Lord my God.”
“Today my nephew’s body was found, in the woods,” Claudette Lewis-Smith wrote on Monday afternoon. “To date no one can tell us why this intelligent college freshman lost his life.
“My brother, his wife and the rest of our family are hurting. We need answers, we need prayers.......Kodi was a wonderful young man, he was a light in my brother’s eyes. We loved him so much. Please help me to pray this hurt and pain away.....R.I.P Kodi, aunti will love you forever.”
‘TO CELEBRATE HIS LIFE’
Haynes, together with college administration, is putting together a vigil for Kodi set for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Angell College Center’s Amitie Plaza on Rugar Street.
Haynes will serve as emcee and is organizing speakers for the event, which, he noted, is intended to be a positive occasion.
“We just want to celebrate his life and celebrate his existence on this earth the way that he would want us to do it,” he said.
— Contributing Writer Amy Heggen assisted with this report.
A vigil is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Angell College Center's Amitie Plaza on Rugar Street on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.