Updated as of 11:14 a.m. on Oct. 20 to include video from the memorial.

Friends and family of rising sophomore Jason Titunik, who died over the summer in a car crash, recognized his life Oct. 19 by sharing memories and planting a tree in his honor. 

Over 75 members of the Elon community gathered outside of Hook, Brannock and Barney residence halls — where Titunik lived his freshman year — to express condolences and support. 

Sophomore Ella Wallace was close friends with Titunik and said the event was meaningful for his friends. 

“This brought a lot of closure for a lot of us. I feel like even though we will remember him — and closure isn't a bad word — it's just to help the ones around us  remember him better,” Wallace said. “Hook was his place, and I think he would have liked this. …  I think it was beautiful, and I think it was definitely the way to do it — especially for college kids.”

Wallace said Titunik was her first friend at Elon, and fondly remembered how they had a running joke where they pretended to be cousins. She said going into college, she thought the people she would meet would be in her life forever. 

“It's pretty hard to replace someone that was your first friend,” Wallace said. “You think that you're gonna have them for the rest of your life.” 

The Rev. Kristin Boswell and Ira Titunik, Jason’s father, as well as friends and roommates described Jason’s personality and memory before planting a tree outside of HBB. 

“The loss of any community member is like a nail in a fence,” Boswell said. “Once that nail is removed, the hole remains.”

Boswell said his memory will live on in those of his friends and family. 

“Jason’s time on this physical plane is no more, yet through you — the hearts, the dreams, the memories, the imaginations of his loved ones — his life will have had great service,” Boswell said. 

In the coming months, an engraved granite plaque will be placed in front of the tree to honor Jason. 

Sophomore and former suitemate Will Borges said Jason was an open-minded person who wanted people to share their opinions. 

“He's just so open-minded to everything and just a very profound thinker,” Borges said. “You could bring any kind of question, any kind of concerns, struggles, anything to him. And he would always find a way to kind of clear it up and make sense of it in your head and kind of show you a way to be optimistic in those situations.”

Borges said while returning to Elon this year without Jason has been tough, he is grateful for the support he has received. 

“It was nice to see so many people in the community gather here. It's nice to see a lot of familiar faces,” Borges said. “I know I felt especially blessed to see everyone and to know just the impact that Jason had on this community to bring everyone together like this.”

Wallace said seeing the community that Jason had brought together has been healing.

“It's definitely a little bit of a struggle to not have him here anymore, but I think we're all doing well in the fact that we're all in a group chat together, we all continue to remember him, we have dinners,” Wallace said. “When you have community like that — the one that he brought together — is probably the best thing about it.”