The Lemont High School Class of 2001 organized a memorial picnic fundraiser Sunday for fallen classmate Paul Davidson III. | Frank Vaisvilas/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 14, 2014 6:37AM
What began as a discussion by Lemont High School alumni about getting together in honor of a fellow classmate during his wake turned into a communitywide event.
Amy Flynn, a 2001 Lemont High School graduate, remembers classmate Paul Davidson III as someone who smiled a lot but who was quiet and kept to himself. She helped organize a memorial picnic and fundraiser in his honor Sunday at Northview Park in Lemont.
“It’s kind of a way to give back to somebody who never expected much from anybody else,” Flynn said.
Davidson, 30, of Lemont, died May 16 in a motorcycle accident shortly before his graduation ceremony at the University of Illinois. He was about to receive a degree in architecture, and Flynn said all of the proceeds from Sunday’s fundraiser will go toward a scholarship in his name.
Davidson also was a U.S. Marine veteran and served in Iraq as a combat engineer in 2005. Hundreds of people holding American flags lined the streets in Lemont and Lockport for his funeral procession in May.
“There’s a great deal of respect in this country for those who serve in the military,” said Davidson’s uncle, David Davidson.
Davidson’s mother, Corinne Davidson, who also attended Sunday’s picnic, said the scholarship will help a student in need who wants to study architecture.
She said her son made a last-minute decision to take architecture as an elective class during his senior year and became hooked. Corinne said she remembers how he designed a gorgeous German-style house and became fascinated with commercial architecture in Chicago.
He joined the Marines to serve his country and to help pay for college, she said.
Corinne said the community has been very supportive and was grateful for Sunday’s fundraiser.
“We’re just overwhelmed,” she said. “Words can’t express.”
Flynn said that Lemont-area businesses donated more than $3,000 worth of goods and services to be raffled during the fundraiser.
“Everybody started giving more and more,” Flynn said.
She said she was amazed how much people were willing to give and decided to organize a communitywide fundraiser rather than just a get-together of Davidson’s high school classmates in his honor.
Allison Healy, who also helped organize the fundraiser, said she remembers how Davidson was teased in school, and many classmates thought they had to do something to honor him in the wake of his tragedy.
“That’s where the idea of this came from,” Healy said. “To do something to kind of rectify.”
Candi Sasah, who played in the high school band with Davidson and also attended Sunday’s picnic, also said she was happy many of the alumni could get together to honor Davidson.
Donations to the scholarship fund can be mailed to the Paul W. Davidson III Memorial Scholarship Fund in care of the University of Illinois Foundation, 1305 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801.
A Facebook page on the memorial picnic also has been set up at facebook.com/PaulDavidsonMemorial.