Shaun Wild would do anything for anyone. He was a bright light. A shining star. Joyful. That was the way friends, coaches, teachers and administrators described him.
The North Central College community gathered Saturday night at the Harold and Eva White Activities Center to mourn and remember Wild. A 2011 alumnus of and a second-grade teacher at , Wild died after being early Saturday morning. A native of Brown Deer, WI, Wild had been a punter on North Central's football team and attended the college for three years.
A standing-room-only crowd gathered, with many students and faculty members recalling the bright light that Wild brought to everything he did.
Manny Juarez, a wide receiver on the football team, said Wild was a truly wonderful person and that all the accounts of him were not overstated.
“He is one of the best people I’ve ever met,” Juarez said. “I learned so much from him, I can’t even explain.”
The prayer service began with North Central College President Harold Wilde addressing the crowd of students, teachers and community members. He said that the loss of a young man in the prime of his life who already exhibited such great skill as a teacher would leave a great hole.
Wilde thanked Shaun Wild’s parents, who were in attendance, for the gift of their son in his brief time at North Central College and in Naperville.
“I pledge to you that he will live on in this place and in the DNA of our community," Wilde said. "He and you will always be a part of North Central College.”
North Central Chaplain Lynn Pries shared with those in attendance the importance of grieving and that there would be comfort through the process. Reading from Psalm 130, Pries said: “For with the Lord there is great mercy, and with him redemption.”
Education Department Chair Maureen Kincaid said Wild was a shining star.
“Please pray for his little second graders and their families,” she said.
After the service Kincaid said that Wild was a dedicated young man. She supervised him while he was student teaching and he often worked late hours planning out lessons.
“He was the ultimate professional,” Kincaid said. “He was a good person. There was nothing bad about Shaun.”
Another North Central football player who was from Wisconsin, like Wild, said he was homesick when he first started attending the college, but that Wild was always there for him.
“We would talk about home and talk about our families and he loved you guys very much, day in and day out,” the student said. “He made me a better brother and a better son.”
The death was a tragic loss, said Peggy Wiora, the assistant to the president. She attended the event to show support for the family and to pray.
“He was an incredible young man,” Wiora said. “Everything that was said about him was so true, his joy, his humor his dedication.”
Wild loved teaching and the challenge of teaching, said his former coach John Thorne. The more difficult the situation, the more he was excited to meet the challenge. In his first year as a teacher, Wild had two students who were conjoined. He wasn’t daunted. He was excited to work with the students.
“Shaun had this sparkle that shot out of his eyes. … He could make people laugh,” Thorne said.
He told the audience that he asked his players to “take a little piece of Shaun with them; to shine some of that light and carry that with them so their hearts shine a little brighter.”
READ MORE ON THIS STORY FROM NAPERVILLE PATCH: