MARIETTA - Being sad over the death of a classmate is natural, but sadness is definitely not the emotion Marietta High School students associated with Travis Kuhn.
"He was, like, the happiest kid ever," sophomore Kienze Clark said of Kuhn, who died Thursday at his home at the age of 19.
"He was always smiling," added sophomore Ali Wells.
Teacher’s aide Lorry Miller, right, helps Travis Kuhn count aluminum tabs at Marietta High School in this 2010 photo. (File photo)
Sherry McCabe, an intervention specialist who had Kuhn in class the last four years, said she wouldn't have blamed the young man, who used a wheelchair because of his cerebral palsy, for complaining once in a while, but she never heard him do it.
"He loved to be at school. He loved being around his peers, around the adults," she said.
Principal Bill Lee loved having him around.
"Travis always had a sunny disposition," Lee said. "If you saw him once or if you saw him 15 times, every time - 'Travis, how you doing?' 'Good, you?'"
That attitude touched everyone Kuhn encountered, the principal said.
"Travis Kuhn was living proof that angels walk among us," Lee said. "Such a good boy."
Kuhn graduated last year, but was still attending Marietta High School as he transitioned to the WASCO program, Lee said. His death, for which a cause had not been determined Friday, spurred students and faculty alike to action.
"I had numerous students shedding tears in my office (Thursday), wanting to know what they could do," Lee said. "It's been an outpouring across the entire student body, an outpouring of love."
Art teacher Heath Rader drew a portrait of Kuhn that staff members had framed to present to his mother. McCabe said students in her special education class were making posters and sharing memories of their friend.
A banner reading "Heaven has a new angel, We love and miss you Travis!" was spread out in the library, and students came in to sign their names and leave messages, including one that read "We'll miss you and your attitude."
"At first you didn't want to believe it," sophomore Aaron Kennon said of learning about Kuhn's death. "It's really great for the whole school to get together at this time."
The banner was displayed at Friday's football game against Williamstown. Prior to the start, a moment of silence was held and Kuhn's picture was shown on the scoreboard. During the game, students were to circulate to collect donations to help Kuhn's family with funeral expenses.
Kuhn's stepfather, Wesley Blair, said the family appreciated the show of support.
Lee said people who want to contribute can do so at the high school office. Checks should be made out to Marietta City Schools and can be mailed to the school, care of Lee, at 208 Davis Ave., Marietta 45750.
Kuhn's funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at McClure-Schafer-Lankford Funeral Home, with visitation from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
He is survived by his mother, Devon Blair, and father, Roger Kuhn and his wife Jenny, as well as five sisters, a brother, grandparents and several aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.