[Hpn] New York, NY - Gifted student is given a spot among heroes Jason-Eric Wilson - New York Daily News - August 14, 2002

Editor Editor <hccjr@bellsouth.net>
Wed, 14 Aug 2002 21:59:30 -0500


Gifted student is given a spot among heroes - Jason-Eric Wilson
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By Michael Daly - New York Daily News - August 14, 2002

A family friend named Gail Nalven Fuchs followed in a Subaru as
the silver hearse led the funeral procession across Brooklyn and
back in time to when the world seemed to hold only promise for
young, magical Jason-Eric Wilson. "This is his school," Fuchs
said.

The hearse pulled over in front of red brick Public School 199 on
Coney Island Ave. Jason graduated from here in 1998. He had been
a member of the Alpha Sigma Kappa Honor Society. He had written
an acclaimed speech titled, "The Contributions of New York City
African-Americans in the War of Independence."

"He could tell you the history of New York City from when it was
purchased to the fall of the twin towers," Fuchs said.

Fuchs watched the funeral director step from the hearse and place
three flowers by the iron fence, two red, one white.

"Jason loved this school," Fuchs said.

The hearse rolled onto E. 13th St., trailed by a black limousine,
Fuchs right behind. She remembered happier days when the father,
Eric Wilson, would walk Jason and the younger child, Lani, down
this tidy, treelined block on the way to school.

"It was perfect," Fuchs said.

The hearse pulled over in front of a well-kept apartment building
at 1256 E. 13th St. The Wilsons had lived here for 14 years. Eric
Wilson, by all accounts, had been a loving, attentive single
father.

Then, the father had fallen ill with leukemia, requiring a bone
marrow transplant. He was a Vassar graduate, but he was too sick
even to look for work. The family was evicted.

"They gave him one day to clear out," Fuchs said. "Everything
they had was thrown in the street."

The funeral director now stepped from the hearse and set a white
flower in the grating of the apartment building's front door.
Fuchs said Eric Wilson and his children had spent four years
moving from relative to relative.

"Their life wasn't easy, but the children never complained," her
husband, David Fuchs, said. "They never started a sentence with,
'How come I don't ...'"

By this year, Jason had begun to hear voices and he was diagnosed
a paranoid schizophrenic. A psychiatrist noted in a July 19
letter that the 16-year-old's condition was being undermined by
"environmental instability, including threats of homelessness and
poverty."

Six days later, the Wilsons landed at the city's Emergency
Assistance Unit seeking shelter. The psychiatrist's letter was
met with a shrug, and the three were left waiting until 4 a.m.
They were then bused to a shelter only to be roused less than two
hours later and brought back to the ESU. They spent the following
night on the floor there.

The next morning, the Wilsons were sent to the Dawn Hotel shelter
in Harlem for a 10-day stay. The father was told they could not
get further housing unless he produced birth certificates and
custody documents that had been lost during the eviction.

High hopes

The children managed to keep their spirits up as they traveled
from bureaucracy to bureaucracy, turning the subway into an
adventure, pointing out new sights. The father had still been
unable to secure the documents when the deadline neared.

"Can you imagine, evicted from a homeless shelter?" Fuchs now
said. "At that point, [Jason] got very upset. He said to his dad,
'I can't move any more.' He went into a room and he took all his
father's medication and that was that."

At the funeral, Jason had laid in an open white coffin, a red
carnation in the hands that had taken his own young life. A table
stood to the right, covered with books.

"He loved books," Gail Fuchs said. "That was his passion. When
most kids were with video games, he was saying, 'Take me to
Barnes & Noble.' He would sit for hours."

One book on the table he would never finish.

"He was reading 'Shiloh.'"

The hearse was nearing Green-Wood Cemetery. Fuchs said the father
took comfort that his son would be buried near two firefighters
who had died on Sept. 11.

"Eric said, 'He's in good company. The Finest and the Bravest. My
son is among them,'" Fuchs said. "He was very pleased about that,
that Jason was among heroes because he considers his son a
hero."

A bell began tolling as the hearse rolled into the cemetery and
up to a hillside with an aged oak tree. Eric Wilson and
10-year-old Lani stepped from the black limousine, which a
contrite city had paid for along with the funeral expenses.

Eric Wilson was wearing a dark suit he and Fuchs had hemmed that
morning. Lani wore a white dress and white shoes. She held up a
white rose for her dad to smell. He breathed in and managed a
smile.

Father and daughter then walked over to a freshly dug grave that
was indeed a few strides from the tombstones for Firefighter
Lawrence Veling of Engine 235 and Firefighter Peter Vega of
Ladder 118. Fuchs was glad to see that the resting place of this
once-happy child was far enough from the spreading oak to get the
morning's first sun.

"Jason used to like to watch the sun come up," she said. "The sun
up and the sun down. Every day was a new day. No matter what
yesterday was."

Editors Note: There is a picture of young Jason-Eric Wilson on the 
below source page.
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source page:  http://makeashorterlink.com/?R1ED12581

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