HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The tiny, white Grace Episcopal Church sanctuary could not contain the crowd or the outpouring of love Saturday as family and friends, schoolmates and villagers attended a memorial service for Carter Smith.
Smith, a 21-year-old senior at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and a 2008 Hastings High School graduate, was killed Dec. 11 when his car went out of control on a stretch of Warburton Avenue in Yonkers, just south of his home in Hastings.
"Carter was one of four cousins born in 1991," Smith's aunt Sarah Burkly said of her nephew. "We called them the Class of 1991. Carter was very smart and innovative. He embraced life and took great pleasure in small things. The Class of 1991 will still meet at family events, but there will be an empty chair at the table. We will miss you Carter."
The Rev. Anna Pearson led the memorial service for a crowd that filled every pew, with many standing in the rear of the small church. Melissa Fogarty sang Handel's "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth." Pearson's homily focused on living through dark days and moving on to brighter days while embracing Carter's love of life.
Smith was an honor student, soccer player and computer whiz at Hastings High School. He mentored students and teachers in computer technology. He started Inzolvio, a technology company, with another student while still in high school and assisted with school musical performances and plays.
Kevin Burkly, Carter's uncle, read several comments from friends and relatives who posted tributes on Facebook and other social networks. Cousins Tessa and Molly Bangs and Tim Burkly read Scripture.
"Carter was intelligent, handsome and charming," Kevin Burkly said. "He enjoyed life and certainly lived a full life in such a short period of time. We are sad that he is no longer with us. But this is a day to celebrate his life."
Following the one-hour service, family and friends moved to the James Harmon Community Center where they continued the celebration of Carter's life.