By John Burton
RED BANK – With the sudden death of an 18-year-old Red Bank Regional High School senior, the leader of a local community organization felt it was appropriate to honor the girl’s memory by way of a public vigil.
Linda Clark, who founded the Count The Children Movement in the borough, organized the candlelight vigil for Sept. 14, in response to the death of Riyadhna Farrow.
“We looked at it as something where we could come out and support the family and to let her friends share their love,” Clark said.
According to Clark, the vigil brought about 200 people to Montgomery Terrace, where the student lived with her family.
Capt. Darren McConnell, a Red Bank police spokesman, said Farrow’s death “appears to have been from natural causes,” but additional tests have been conducted. “I can tell you we ruled out any kind of foul play,” he said.
“She deserved to be remembered for who she was,” said Clark, a lifelong resident.
Among the roughly 200 who gathered at the Evergreen Public Housing development were fellow students, high school administration representatives, local clergy, Mayor Pasquale Menna and the six borough council members, according to Clark.
Councilwoman Sharon Lee noted that similar events in the recent past have been set into motion by violent acts or to make a political statement, such as one held in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.
The gathering for Farrow wasn’t for a political reason and was attended by many fellow students. “It was grief,” she said. “It was sorrow over the loss of one of their peers.”
Farrow, Lee said, was a good student, excelling in math and science, working part time at Foodtown, Broad Street.
“She had focus and direction and a lot of young people don’t have that today,” Lee said. “She was a role model.”
What also struck Lee was how the young people depended on each other for support. “They needed to come together and hug each other,” she said. “That’s one of the things I noticed, the prolonged hugs.
“It was very comforting to the family to see so many young people come to her home and express their concern,” Lee said.
The gathering provided a chance for an impromptu fundraising effort, to assist the family with funeral costs, collecting $1,150, Clark said.
Farrow’s funeral service was held Tuesday evening, Sept. 18, at Pilgrim Baptist Church, 172 Shrewsbury Ave. She is survived by her parents, six brothers and four sisters.