NEW CANAAN, Conn. – An untimely death will mean the world will miss out on the pleasure of knowing a wonderful guy named Kevin Johnson, one of his best friends says.
“He was a genuine, real person,” said Austin Malizia, 21, Johnson’s friend of more than a decade. “I’m sorry for all the people that didn’t get to know him. They missed out on a good, real person.”
Malizia and other friends are stunned that the nice, cool kid who loved skateboarding, snowboarding and helping his pals is gone. Johnson, 21, died Saturday in a fire at a home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., near the campus of Marist College. Two other people also perished in the blaze, the cause of which is still under investigation. Johnson was attending Dutchess Community College, also located in Poughkeepsie.
Malizia, now a student at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, saw Johnson last week in New Canaan near the Kean’s Corner Mobil gas station. Malizia thinks of how Johnson was always there for his friends and how a word Johnson came up with would be his catchphrase for weeks. The most memorable: “Be Easy.”
“He had a carefree attitude, and he didn’t give a damn what people thought about him,” said Malizia, who met Johnson while they were students at Saxe Middle School. “It’s hard to think about all this stuff. He was always there for me no matter the circumstance.”
Ann Vernon, Johnson’s school counselor at New Canaan High School, remembers Johnson for being comfortable with his fellow students as well as with adults. She recalled the 2008 graduate being enthusiastic about many things, especially skateboarding. She and other faculty shared their memories of Johnson on Monday, an unusual day at New Canaan High with students taking winter exams.
“You just had to like Kevin. Whenever he came into the office, you just had a nice feeling when he left,” Vernon said. “When he left, you said, ‘I hope for all the best for that kid.’”
New Canaan High Assistant Principal Ari Rothman described Johnson’s death as “a terrible, terrible tragedy.” Rothman recalled a young man who was always informed and who had an opinion on just about everything. “He was a really good, solid young man,” Rothman said. “He was a very, very good humored … and was a lot of fun to get to know.”
Funeral services for Johnson will be Friday at St. Aloysius Church.