AP NEWS

DeKalb’s Ezra Hill Jr. remembered with dances, laughs, tears

April 7, 2019

HARVEY – Nehemiah Rogers stood in front of the crowd at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday during the funeral for DeKalb 10-year-old Ezra Hill Jr.

The child didn’t say anything, other than to dedicate what he was about to do for his friend.

He then started doing the dance called “the floss.”

“That’s all I have to say,” he said as the estimated 1,000 people in attendance clapped.

Nods to the Fortnite dance, a favorite of Hill’s, were plentiful as friends and family remembered the Tyler Elementary fourth-grader, who was shot March 23 while sitting with his father in a car outside his father’s home in Harvey. He died of his injuries two days later. No one has been charged in connection with his death.

The funeral featured more laughter and dancing then it did tears.

When Hill’s cousin, J.D. Hill, rose to speak, he recalled a cruise the family took.

“He said, ‘here, hold my plate,’ ” J.D. Hill said with a big smile. “Then he started doing his dance in the middle of the room.”

After short remembrances from various acquaintances – which included family friends, Tyler physical education teacher Brandon Daub and Hill’s fourth-grade teacher, Julia O’Hara – Ezra Hill Sr. spoke about his son.

Hill Sr. spoke of how he had been tough on his son, but on the advice of a friend eased up.

“I changed for my son,” Hill Sr. said. “I switched it up for him.”

He then told a story about that relationship.

“I remember telling him, ‘People only love you because of me,’ ” Hill Sr. said. “The he said to me, ‘People only love you because of me.’ ”

During his closing remarks, the Rev. Edwin Harris focused on the importance of reaching out for help during hard times – even pointing out the Biblical meaning of the name Ezra, which means “helper.”

He then tied it back in to Hill Sr.’s story.

“Because of him, we love you,” he said.

Daub, the physical education teacher, fought through tears during his remembrances, said Hill had befriended with Daub’s son during their time in the DeKalb Wrestling Club. Hill would visit Daub’s house, and Daub would worry about Hill’s allergies. His son had his best year wrestling this year, Daub said.

Harris again pointed out how Hill lived up to his name.

“Ezra helped him have the best year of his life,” Harris said, quoting Daub. “He was on an assignment to help his son. That’s why the allergies didn’t matter. He was covered because he was on an assignment to help from God.”

O’Hara, Hill’s teacher, said Hill’s legacy could be seen in her classroom this week. She talked about how he had chipped a tooth while doing the dance “the worm,” and how he cared about every other student in the classroom.

“His spirit is still in that room. His name is still in that room. His light is still in that room,” Harris said. “He brought us here to share that light.”