As they mourn the loss of their son and brother, William Denton’s family decided to stand in a place of gratitude.
Denton’s father, Van, said they had gratitude for all the moments they had with him; gratitude for Penn State and the education he was receiving; gratitude for the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity brotherhood, the spirit of which they experienced firsthand as about 30 members traveled on a bus overnight to Raleigh, N.C., to honor Denton at his funeral; and gratitude for the people gathered in the bitter cold Thursday evening to remember him.
William Denton’s father, mother, Tali, and brother, Tal, attended a candlelight vigil held by ATO at Old Main.
Denton, 19, a sophomore at Penn State studying health care policy and administration, was found dead in his dorm room in Miller Hall on Penn State’s campus on Jan. 8. A cause of death hasn’t been determined yet, and won’t be until toxicology reports are complete, according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers.
Friend Wyatt Stucke said Denton was the most unconditionally forgiving person he knew.
“That’s just one bullet point in the list of superlatives that Will embodied,” Stucke said. “A list that is pretty damn long. Of course, there were the ones that he was surprisingly proud of, such as most content with a rapidly developing dad bod, he would frequently talk about it; mostly likely to convince himself that someone had ‘Naired’ all of his leg hair off while sleeping on a canning trip, which never happened.
“There were the superlatives that he radiated everywhere he went — fastest to answer questions, questions that he had asked; ... tell a cheesy joke in an already awkward situation and then laugh at it by himself; and, of course, brightest smile, that one was uncontested.”
Because of Denton, the world is a brighter place, Stucke said.
Denton had a desire to help everyone, ATO President Tanner Gattuso said.
He was the most passionate person in the house in regard to the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, Gattuso said. Anytime there was a fundraising opportunity, Denton was the first to sign up.
He offered up his home in Raleigh for canning trips, and Gattuso said there’s no doubt in his mind that Denton wouldn’t have traveled 16 hours round trip every weekend for Thon.
“He took people’s pain and made it his own because he knew that was the only way to help people and guide them from the dark into the light,” Gattuso said.