The grief over last week’s death of Timothy Connors stretched from Port Richmond to the Far Northeast as classmates and others recalled a friendly and promising teenager.
“It’s really sad,” said Jessica Kowalski, who attended school with Timmy, as he was known, at Our Lady of Port Richmond Elementary School and Archbishop Ryan High School.
“The day after was so depressing. We had grief counselors, and we were reminiscing and talking about Tim.”
Timmy, a 15-year-old freshman, died on the afternoon of May 17, a Tuesday, after being hit by a car on Academy Road, outside Ryan. The police department’s accident investigation division said he was trying to cross busy Academy Road at about 3:25 p.m. when he was hit by a Suzuki being driven northbound. He suffered severe head and body trauma, and a history teacher performed CPR until a rescue squad arrived. The boy, who received last rites, died of his injuries at 4:10 p.m. at Aria Hospital-Torresdale Campus.
The driver remained at the scene and was not impaired. No charges have been filed.
Timothy Owen Connors is survived by his parents, Georgette and Martin; siblings Alaina, Charlotte and Dillon; and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Timothy Connors Memorial Scholarship, 11201 Academy Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154.
Timmy, who lived on Agate Street near Allegheny Avenue, loved designing comic books, writing stories, spending time with family and friends and enjoying all things Spiderman. He typically took the SEPTA Route 20 bus to the Frankford Transportation Center, then the 25 bus.
On the night of his death and the evening afterward, Ryan students and others held vigils in his memory. The school sign reads, “You are an angel Tim.” There’s a memorial ear the school’s north entrance, near the accident scene, that includes an American flag, flowers, candles and a sign with the message “RIP Tim Connors. Gone but never forgotten.”
On Friday morning, Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald celebrated a Mass at Ryan, and Timmy’s parents were in attendance. The boy’s picture was displayed on two overhead projectors with the words “Rest in the Peace of Christ Timothy Connors.” Fitzgerald urged the 1,780 Ryan students and staff members to live the gift of life with a purpose.
The Rev. Joseph T. Shenosky, the school minister, delivered the homily, speaking of a friendly young man who liked computer games, actions movies, pizza and Doritos.
“What a gift that Timothy Connors was to us,” he said.
After the Mass, Martin Connors addressed the students.
“I’ve seen nothing but an outpouring of love from you kids,” he told them.
Connors encouraged the students to act on their initial plan to sell wristbands and T-shirts to raise money for Timmy’s scholarship fund.
“I might have lost my son on Tuesday, but I feel I gained a multitude of children these last few days,” he said. “I’ve felt nothing but love from you kids. God bless you all.”
Sister Frances Antoinette, Timmy’s seventh-period religion teacher, remembered a smart oy who liked to ask and answer questions and carry a load of books from class to class.
At the end of class, he’d say, “Goodbye, Sister Frances. Have a nice day.”
“Timmy was a very warm-hearted boy,” she said.
The teacher recalled him as funny, a smile often on his face. His desk remains vacant.
“Spiritually, he’s still with us,” she said.
A funeral Mass for Timmy was held on Saturday morning at Nativity of Our Lord Church on Allegheny Avenue. The Rev. Anthony Orth, a former pastor at Nativity, returned to give the homily on Timmy’s life.
“He was a nice, innocent, good young man,” he said.
Ryan English teacher Tom Emore spoke of a student who liked to laugh and love, and the instructor urged those in attendance to do the same in Timmy’s memory. He’s probably already using God’s computer, the teacher said.
To show Timmy’s concern for others even at a young age, Emore recounted a trip the boy took to New York in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The then-6-year-old approached a police officer who stood guard where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
“I’m sorry you lost your friends,” he told the cop, who fought back tears.
Members of the 2010 Our Lady of Port Richmond graduating class presented Timmy’s parents with a certificate documenting that a star in the sky has been named in his memory.
Timmy attended Nativity’s school from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, moving to Our Lady of Port Richmond for seventh and eight grade after a neighborhood consolidation of Catholic schools.
Emma Hetrick, a freshman at Franklin Towne Charter, graduated with Timmy from Our Lady of Port Richmond. One of the fondest times she shared with him was her 14th birthday party.
“We got him to dance, and he had a blast,” she said.
Vince Madle will miss his former elementary and high school classmate. “He was a good kid,” he said. “He was funny and had a lot of potential.” ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org