Friends and family filled the chapel where photographs and a Hillsborough fire department uniform stood in commemoration of the life of Philip Martin, senior criminology and justice studies major, who passed away on Dec. 14 of last year.
Brianna Vadala, Martin’s girlfriend of almost three years and a senior psychology major, said that he died suddenly at his off-campus apartment of heart failure.
During the service, friends and family gave speeches and shared personal anecdotes about Martin.
John Krimmel, associate professor of criminology and justice studies, gave his recollections of Martin as a student. Krimmel said there were three types of criminology students: the straight-A student headed for law school, the student who fell into criminology because it was easier than majoring in physics or biology and a third type “(who) knows everything is going to turn out all right.”
“I think we know what group Phil belonged to,” Krimmel said.
Krimmel then read a paper that Martin had written for his class. Martin’s paper, on the meaning of freedom, described freedom as “just being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it.”
Brianna Vadala, Martin’s girlfriend of almost three years and a senior psychology major, detailed her memories of their relationship. They met during Welcome Week freshman year and after their first conversation, she knew all about his football career at Immaculata High School in Hillsborough. She spoke about his ability to impersonate William Wallace from “Braveheart,” his “amazing” ping-pong skills and his enthusiasm for competition.
Martin’s uncle, Chris Possessky, described a picture of Martin with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other -_ as a toddler.
“We make choices guided by or in ignorance of our parent’s guidance,” he said. “I’m sure Phil made some good choices and some bad choices.”
“I have a real image of Phil as a fun-loving person who had some vices in his life,” Possessky said.
Martin’s father, Stan, read a story that his son wrote when he was a freshman called “Only the Good Die Young.” Martin was planning his own future, his father said, with dreams of becoming a college professor.
Denise Possesski-Glowacki, Martin’s “Aunt Dee,” said she remembered getting the phone call that Martin, the first grandson in the family, had been born 22 years ago.
Possesski-Glowacki also said she would “never forget that horrific phone call, hearing that he had left us,” and asked the audience to remember the 22 years in between.
Vadala’s mother, Betty Sullivan, joked about no one being good enough for her only child.
“The greatest compliment I can pay anyone is that I trusted him with my daughter,” she said.
Martin’s mother, Cindy, said the service was beautiful.
“Philip loved the school, he loved his professors,” she said. “His parents appreciate everything the school has done.”
According to Vadala, Martin was an outdoors type who loved sports (especially the Yankees, Devils and Dolphins), his job at Bottle King in Hillsborough and writing. In the future, he “wanted to get married and have tons of kids,” travel the world and go to graduate school for law and justice or criminology.
“He was my best friend and I miss him more and more each day,” Vadala said. “Life at (the College) just isn’t the same without him.”
– Becky Barrett, Staff Writer; Helen Walters, Fact Checker