Community mourns loss of Tyler Smith

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By Joe Moskowitz
A small community in the middle of the mountains in upstate New York, and a small college in the middle of America are both in shock as they prepare to say goodbye to one of the most popular students ever to walk the halls of Margaretville Central School and Northwest Missouri State University.

In a press release, the university announced that on Saturday, Sept. 14 at about 1:15 p.m., the body of 20-year-old Tyler James Smith, a psychology major, was found in the restroom of the dormitory where he lived in at Northwest. An autopsy confirmed his death to have been by suicide.

Within hours, the news of his death spread in the local community. His grandfather, Watson George of Arkville, says he was returning from vacation and was driving on the Massachusetts Turnpike when he got the shocking news from his daughter, Jodi Carson, Tyler’s mother. George says he is doing all right, under the circumstances, but he says his daughter is not doing well. Both are asking the same question. “Why?”

Former classmates of Tyler’s at Margaretville Central School are asking that same question. MCS Superintendent Tony Albanese says he spent the entire weekend conferring with faculty and staff. On Monday, The MCS crisis team put a counseling plan into effect. Albanese spoke with juniors and seniors who were most likely to have known Tyler, and he answered their questions and offered assistance. Counselors met with sixth graders who may also be disturbed about what happened. Teachers were briefed on what signs to look for in case kids are having difficulty.

Mark Hornickle, a spokesman for Northwest Missouri says counseling sessions for students and staff were packed. He reported that Smith was a very popular student and was involved in many campus activities. A campus bell ringing ceremony in his memory was schedule for Wednesday followed by memorial services to be held by the two campus organizations to which he belonged, The Baptist Student Union and the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity.

Locally, there will be calling hours at the Hynes Funeral Home in Margaretville on Friday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. and a funeral service will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the United Methodist Church with Rev. L. Lawrence Dunlap and Pearl Wilson officiating.

During those services, Smith will be remembered for his wonderful personality, good looks, and athleticism. Smith was an outstanding player on the 2009 MCS sectional championship soccer team. Athletic director Jeremey Marks says Smith was fast, a great team player who also always willing to help others, including younger kids.