The sophomore class cabinet will hold a memorial service for one of its former class members tonight. The memorial will be held in the Perry Paige Auditorium at 6 p.m. for Justin Applewhite.
Applewhite was a 19-year-old general studies student with planned to enroll in the University’s School of Business and Industry. The Memphis, Tenn. native, who was known as an outgoing and amicable electronic gadget enthusiast, died June 25, 2004 in a car accident. In Memphis, he attended Bishop Byrnes High School where he participated in a host of extracurricular activities. During his senior year, Applewhite was recognized as the 2003 All-State Offense & Defense player, Best of Prep and Who’s Who in Sports.
Not one to stay out of the limelight, Applewhite was just as active as a freshman at FAMU. Upon his entrance into the University, he joined many organizations on campus. Besides becoming a member of the FAMU Strike Team, and the freshman class cabinet, Applewhite also auditioned and made the cut for the Boyz of Poison dance group.
“He loved to dance,” said Chyealla Savage, who was Applewhite’s girlfriend.
Savage, a sophomore chemistry/pre-med student, who met Applewhite at the 2003 Atlanta Classic, said he was truly a good-natured individual.
“He always made everybody laugh and could make everyone feel better,” Savage said. The 19-year-old from Chicago praised Applewhite for being an all-around great guy.
“He could make everything better. If you needed something fixed, like something electrical, Justin would fix it,” Savage said.
Savage, who was on an internship at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., said she was about to catch a Greyhound bus to Tallahassee to help Applewhite move into his new home at the time of his fatal accident.
“I was going to come down and see him, and he was driving down too.”
Applewhite was driving southbound on Route 55 in rainy weather between Como, Miss. and Batesville, Miss., when his car hydroplaned off the highway, slid on a median and hit a tree. Witnesses driving around him said they noticed he had a safety belt on, was not speeding and was not asleep. Yet, he died instantly from the impact of hitting the tree off the highway that has been described as a “death trap.”
After trying to contact him several times, Savage knew something was wrong.
“I had been calling him and calling him.”
When she discovered he’d been in a car accident, she hoped for the best.
“I was praying; I thought he would end up in the hospital, not dead,” she said.
Savage said Applewhite met her family a few weeks prior to the accident, recalling good memories.
“Two to three weeks before, he came up to Chicago to meet my family and he was only there for like five days, and everyone just fell in love with him,” Savage said.
Savage received the news at approximately 3 p.m. before she boarded her bus.
“I’m sitting in the middle of the Greyhound station and people are looking at me like ‘Is something wrong?'”
At a friend’s suggestion, Savage called Applewhite’s mother, who broke the news to her.
“I was devastated. We just sat on the phone crying,” Savage said.
Alvis Applewhite, Justin Applewhite’s mother, said she “lost it” when she first found out she had lost her only child.
“I screamed and hollered for hours. Then, I called on the Lord and started saying the Lord’s prayer,” Applewhite said.
She said she copes by staying occupied.
“I’m just keeping busy, I think about him three or four times a day, but God has given me a little breathing time,” she said.
Although she misses her son, Applewhite said it was her son’s time.
“He had made his rounds. He had everything in order,” she said.
The sophomore class cabinet is generating a book scholarship in Justin Applewhite’s memory. For more information on donating to the scholarship fund or attending the memorial service, contact Catherine Segar, the sophomore class cabinet secretary of communication co-chairperson, at (407) 925-7125.
Contact Diamond Washington at email@example.com