Raw emotion filled a ballroom at La Fontaine Bleue in Glen Burnie on Sunday as friends and family of Julian Jones grappled with the death of the 26-year-old University of Baltimore student and sought to celebrate his life.
Jones' father, Tobias, called his eldest son "a special kid" who was mature beyond his years, always did what he was asked, and nurtured a dream of building a greenhouse and growing food for the less fortunate.
Julian Jones was studying environmental sustainability and human ecology at the University of Baltimore.
"He was a greater man at 26 than I was," Tobias Jones said.
Seconda Hollinger remembered her godson as a peacemaker. She told his friends and family to push for positive change on his behalf: "Do not let his life be in vain."
Jones' siblings and grandparents walked to the front of the ballroom to light candles and lower their heads in prayer.
Justin Jones, 23, delivering a eulogy, looked out at some of his brother's closest friends, struggled for words and was overcome with tears.
"I loved my brother with everything in my heart," he said. "He was my best friend."
After taking a long breath to regain his composure, Justin Jones told everyone how his big brother had supported him through their mother's death just two weeks after Justin's high school graduation. Julian pushed him to go to culinary school and get his degree, he said.
"You have to complete your goals, complete your dreams," his brother told him.
"He reminded me of that every day."
James Johnson said he'd met Jones at the end of elementary school and they became best friends.
He solemnly addressed Jones' family and fiancee, Shenel Darden, whom Jones was to marry at Niagara Falls in April.
Johnson gestured to the large group of Jones' friends, and said they planned on keeping every promise he'd made — including taking Darden to Niagara Falls.
"We want to do what he would've done," he said.
Another friend, Joshua Morris, shared a memory of fishing, one of Jones' favorite activities. They had cast their lines into a pond, he said, and when Jones reeled his back in, he jumped up and dropped his fishing rod.
A turtle had somehow gotten caught on the line," he said. It quickly freed itself.
"Every time I see a turtle now, I'm going to think of Julian," he said.
Darden, 28, met Jones through mutual friends at Arundel High School. The couple began dating in September 2015.
She said he had a "loving spirit."
Regardless of what had happened in his life on any given day, Darden said, Jones would make sure the people around him were having a good one.
"That's what I loved about him," she said. "He made such an impact on people's lives."
She said she and Jones were very close and shared in each other's accomplishments.
"I'd never known love like that," she said. "He was an amazing person."
Jones' friends wore Washington Redskins ribbons, his favorite football team. The family gave out seeds for trees and flowers to plant in his memory. Another friend, Nick Thompson, played "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Fire and Rain" on the acoustic guitar.
"I can still hear his voice," Thompson said as he played. "I can hear his laugh, too."
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Friends and family stepped forward to look at photos of Jones at a friend's wedding, at the beach, fishing as a kid, and posing for a youth soccer photo. In one, he's a young child sitting on his father's knee.
Tobias Jones remembered how a 5-year-old Julian made him cry on Career Day, when he told his entire kindergarten class that he wanted to be like his father when he grew up.
At recent vigils at Anne Arundel High School and the University of Baltimore, Tobias Jones said, he was heartened by people standing to share the impact his son had on them.
"He had faith and he loved people, and they loved him back," Tobias Jones said.