Johnny Rodelas, left, with friend
Anthony Guerrero at the Junior Prom
a week before his accident.
By Melanie Blanco, Courier Staff Writer
On May 9th, Johnny Rodelas was in a tragic accident on Central Avenue in Union City. He was so young and still had such a wonderful life to look forward to. Many of you probably know Johnny because of his sense of humor and great smile. There was never a time in life that he would get mad or hold grudges.
As many of you already know, many of Johnny's friends shared their time together on Monday May 11th, in the Spot. At this time teachers, counselors, friends and family got up in front of all of Johnny's fellow classmates and loved ones and shared their memories, which will never be forgotten. Everyone was given a chance to sign posters and make cards for the family.
A commemorative card presented
Monday, May 11th, many students gathered on Central Avenue lighting candles and saying prayers. It was an emotional night for most, but for others it was a time to let someone move on to a better place. About 20 candles were set out Monday night. Flowers and signs we posted on the fence where Johnny’s car was found. Every day of the week of the 11th, people came to give their respect.
Wednesday, May 13th, was the first viewing of Johnny. Many people showed up around 6 p.m. and stood patiently in a line to share their moments with Johnny. A guest book was posted in the front for all family and friends to put their names in and with the guest book was a card you could pick up that shared a little prayer. On the 14th, several more people attended the viewing and at 6:30 p.m. the family held the vigil. On this day, the posters that were signed at Logan were posted up in the memorial hallway. The priest shared some moments of Johnny’s life. He said, “Picture every one of you in the back seat of Johnny’s corvette in heaven.” Many people shared their laughter as many others shared their tears. Johnny’s sister, parents, and grandfather spoke in front of everyone, sharing memories of his lifetime. After sharing stories, a slide show was put up on a projector wall. Hundreds of people stood in line to cherish a last moment with him.
Friday May 15th, was the funeral at St. Edwards Church in Newark. About 100-200 people attended the church ceremony, praying and crying and being there for their loved ones. Before seating yourself you entered a first set of doors where you could view Johnny for the last and final time. After the Church ceremony everyone got their funeral signs for their cars and drove off to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. On the way to the cemetery some cars followed the hearse, while others followed any car they saw that said "funeral". The hearse drove around the front of Logan and down central and into Johnny’s neighborhood. Once everyone got to the cemetery, a line of people extended down to the street so that they could watch them carry the casket up to the grave where the priest was waiting. Once the casket got up to the front, the priest asked that everyone that had a balloon let go of it one at a time and say Johnny’s name three times. Once the casket was put into the ground the parents and immediate family were given roses to drop onto the casket. After the parents, roses and flowers went around to every loved one to put on the casket. Then everyone got to share one more precious moment with him. The Rodelas family held a get-together at their home for everyone to attend.