Hundreds of mourners packed the Mid-Prairie High School gym on Thursday morning to bid farewell to Colton Allen, the 16-year-old who perished in a farm pond on June 6.
As people filed into the gym, they were given the opportunity to sign Allen’s black casket, which was positioned just inside the gym door.
In his homily, the Rev. Bill Roush of Holy Trinity Catholic Church acknowledged the shock and pain of losing someone at such a young age.
“Actually, it’s hard to cope right now, which is a feeling you all know too well,” Roush said. “We ask ourselves why did this happen to Colton at 16 years old. The fact is there are no easy answers to these questions.”
Roush later told mourners, “Rage at God, if you need to. God can take it.”
Colton’s uncle, Curtis Allen, told stories from the family’s recent trip to Hawaii, and urged everyone, especially Colton’s Mid-Prairie classmates, to focus on their good memories.
“We have our family memories,” he said. “You kids have your memories, walking down the hall. You guys got to see him every day.
“Those are the memories you should focus on going into your senior year because he’s still in those halls with you.”
He urged them all to “live your life to the fullest like he did, because that’s what he would want.”
Colton’s cousin, Claire Riggan, also shared stories from the Hawaii trip, recalling his fearlessness when cliff jumping.
“Show me where the biggest cliffs are,” Riggan recalled Colton saying.
She added, “I feel like we were just getting to know our cousin, and that’s what hurts the most.”
Colton’s father, Joe Allen, took time to thank everyone who came to the family’s aid over the past week.
“There are no amount of words to thank the community, my friends, my family,” he said. “I just don’t know how to express how much appreciation there is for what everybody has done.”
He recalled Colton’s zest for life.
“He was wide open from day one, and he’ll be wide open until we’re all gone,” he said. “He’ll be beside each and anybody that needs a hand.”
Joe Allen said that his son’s spirit will live on with everyone who knew him.
“I know in my heart that this boy will walk with anybody and everybody and drag them through whatever has got them down,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that when things get tough, he’s going to run beside you and say ‘Let’s roll.’”
In a final tribute, pallbearers loaded Colton’s casket into his father’s pickup truck for his journey to York Cemetery in Williamsburg.