One speaker described him as the “father of a thousand sons.” Others called him a brother, a lifelong friend, a second father. Still others, a mentor, a coach and above all, a family man.
Hundreds of students, athletes, parents and others took part in a candlelight vigil Wednesday night at Walt Whitman High School to remember wrestling coach Vincent Altebrando, who died Friday of an autoimmune disease.
He was 51 years old, and left his wife, Kristie, and four daughters, Anjelia, Gionna, Natalia and Mirabella.
The crowd packing the school’s north gym stood and applauded as his wife and daughters came in. Members of the crowd shed tears, laughed at humorous stories about him, and frequently hugged each other. After the speakers finished, the crowds filed out to line both sides of the driveway from the north gym to the south gym, holding up candles as members of his family, the wrestling team and others passed between them.
In the south gym, the team and others stood silent in a final farewell, as the crowds walked slowly past, extinguished their candles and went on their way.
This story has been updated to correct the location of the two gyms.