CROWN POINT — Next to a lone motorcycle helmet sat an open book with a sign, “Please write down your favorite memory.”
When it comes to times shared with 17-year-old Clayton Gaudry, the recollections were many.
From family vacations to four-wheeling with friends, the book's pages began to fill with photos and stories, one by one.
However, there was much more ahead for the Crown Point High School student, his family and friends said.
Several people gathered Thursday evening at Living Stones Church in Crown Point for family visitation and to remember Gaudry, of Crown Point, who was rear-ended by a truck while on a motorcycle on U.S. 231 on the night of May 7, police said. He died four days later at a hospital in Chicago surrounded by family and friends.
“He was the golden boy,” said his aunt, Juanita Lunsford. “He was one of the best kids you'll ever meet. I can't understand how something like this could happen to him.”
Lunsford said her nephew, a dedicated student, had a bright future. Today, she remembered him by bringing his favorite homemade treat to the visitation.
“He would go straight to the kitchen and say, 'Where's the brownies, Tia?' So I baked a batch of brownies to bring today,” Lunsford said. “We've got to get through this together. We're holding each other up and relying on our faith.”
A slideshow and framed photos showed the teen from his childhood to high school years. His friends remembered his laugh, his kindness and his vivaciousness.
“He was my best friend,” Indy Zelasko said. “He was the one person you could go to. You could be completely sad and down but when you go to Clayton's house, you end up having a great time. He always put us before himself. He was a great person and I'll never get over his work ethic.”
Haylee Keller said Gaudry treated her like a sister.
“I didn't realize he knew so many people,” Keller said. “I knew he was popular, but didn't know he was this popular.”
Family friend Joanna Leciejewski made shirts, decals, bracelets and candles to give Gaudry's loved ones meaningful mementos and raise money for the family. The shirts and decal stickers said: “Look twice, save a life. In loving memory of Clayton Gaudry,” along with the silhouette of someone riding a motorcycle.
“They're just so thankful. A lot of people wore their shirts today and want to wear them tomorrow, too,” Leciejewski said. “Clayton was such an amazing person.”
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Living Stones Church, at 909 Pratt St. in Crown Point. Pastor Ron Johnson Jr. will be officiating. The interment will follow at the City of Crown Point Historic Maplewood Cemetery.