Family and friends remember joyful person with famous smile
A cedar tree donated by the Prospect community has been planted at CedarBridge Academy by the friends, family and fellow students of Nahgé O’Brien.
One year after his death, the 16-year-old science student and promising sailor was remembered at a poignant noon ceremony, yesterday.
“He was a very joyful, giving person who never worried about anything,” said father Morris O’Brien, who recalled his son’s transformation following his first voyages with the Bermuda Sloop Foundation.
Older brother Raémar remembered his brother giving away their toy scooter to some other children when they were both young.
Mother Margaret O’Brien said her son had organised events for other children undergoing lengthy and isolating treatment in hospital.
“Nahgé knew what it was like, because he was stuck in there getting his own treatment for months,” she said.
Nahgé talked about Bermuda so much, she added, that staff from both the Children’s Hospital in Boston, and St Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, have visited the Island thanks to their former patient.
The Devonshire teen, who succumbed to acute myeloid leukaemia on April 22 of last year, “didn’t fear anything”, Mrs O’Brien told
The Royal Gazette.
His last wish had been to qualify as child life specialist, to counsel children in hospitals and their families.
Above all, friends and relatives remembered Nahgé’s passion for science, especially marine science.
S3 student JD Symonds, now interning at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, told them: “I am extremely proud to be the first recipient of the Nahgé O’Brien Science Award.”
And Ciara Burrows, recipient of an informal sailing fund set up in Nahgé’s honour by his godfather Richard Butterfield, urged others to follow his example: “Nahgé was a person who did not pass up opportunities.”
The Bermuda Sloop Foundation’s LaKai Dill spoke of Nahgé’s impact on crew members during his trips to sea as an M3 student and, in 2010, on the Canadian maritime voyage.
The “companionship” named after him was created by Mr Butterfield to help young sailors at the Foundation and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
“Some people just brighten the world when they show up,” said CedarBridge principal Kalmar Richards, prompting smiles and occasional tears from the gathering as she remembered Nahgé waiting at the school entrance in the mornings to help her unload her car.
“I told him he was an honorary prefect, because he functioned like one,” she said. “When he heard that, he gave me his famous Nahgé O’Brien smile.”
Deputy Principal Rosemary Matthews led the tree planting ceremony after a moment of silence.
“As we walk past this tree, the CedarBridge family will be inspired to press on,” she said.
The gathering was joined by uncles Michael and Murray O’Brien, grandmothers Christina O’Brien and Maria Rawlins, plus great uncles and aunts Keith and Joanna Bean and Vance Hollis and Una Lewis, along with great-grandmother Violet Samuels.
Godparents Richard and Susan Butterfield attended, and cousins Salayah Stange, Mikaela O’Brien, Murraisha Burgess, and Vincent Rabain with wife Pamela.