Throngs of mourners attend funeral of murdered Warwick High School graduate

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:28

In his life and in his death, Kevin Kless draws community together WARWICK, N.Y. — On Saturday, Jan. 21, throngs of mourners braved the very first snow storm of the season filling Warwick’s United Methodist Church to capacity. They were there to attend a funeral service for Kevin Kless, 23, the son of John Kless of Highland Falls and Kendall Kless of Warwick. The previous day approximately 1,000 people, waiting on long lines, had offered their condolences at a viewing held in Warwick’s Lazear-Smith funeral home. Many had traveled thousands of miles from as far away as California and in one case from Australia. It was a testimony of the outpouring of love and affection that relatives and friends felt for the young man, a 2006 graduate of Warwick Valley High School, who was senselessly beaten to death on the streets of Philadelphia. Kless, who recently graduated from Temple University, had been living and working in Philadelphia when on Jan. 14, at approximately 2:30 a.m., he, his girlfriend, and another female friend were hailing a taxicab. They had just left a local restaurant and lounge in the city’s historic district. Investigators reported that Kless had flagged one cab whose lights were on, signaling it was free. The driver, however, refused the fare and Kless shouted to him angrily that he should turn off his lights. According to investigators, four men in another car apparently thought Kless was yelling at them. Three jumped out, and rushed the young man. After a vicious assault, the men, left their victim lying on the sidewalk, jumped back in their car and sped away. Kless never regained consciousness and died later that evening at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Passersby had ignored the attack and the screams of his companions. The three men have since been arrested by Philadelphia Police and charged with murder. The young man’s spirit Rev. Jeff Quinn, pastor of the Valley Bible Church in Bellvale, conducted the funeral service on Saturday. In their eulogies, Kless’ brothers Matthew and Tim spoke about the generosity, spirit, friendly personality and great sense of humor that explained why their beloved brother had so many friends. Several of Kless’ friends, including Dexter Dethmers, who had traveled all the way from Australia to be at the service, then offered testimonials. Following internment at Warwick Cemetery approximately 300 guests were served at a repast organized by family friends and held in the Warwick Conference Center. Community Kevin’s mother, Kendall Kless, reported that in anticipation of the sudden and extraordinary task of feeding a huge crowd, friends had gone door to door petitioning local restaurants, markets, businesses and others for donations of food and refreshments and no one turned them down. “The tremendous outpouring of support from family, friends, and strangers,” she said, “has kept us going during this incredibly difficult time. Kevin’s circle of friends extends across the country and even the globe. They have enveloped us with their love of Kevin and their determination to seek justice on his behalf. “We’d also like to extend our sincere and deep appreciation to our beloved Warwick business community, which has helped to take care of all of our needs,” she added. “We are fortunate to live in such a caring, giving community and we are forever grateful for your kindness.”