MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Maury County teen who tragically died in a fire is being remembered for his bright spirit and personality.
Will Spiess, 19, died in a camper fire at the Natchez Trace campground in Lewis County over the weekend.
“When I heard, I was heartbroken,” cried Chloe Ferguson who was part of the Best Buddies Organization with Spiess at Columbia Central High School (CHS).
The heartache can be felt from the students to the leaders.
“You know, it was just disbelief and shock, disbelief and shock that such a beautiful light could be extinguished,” explained Lisa Ventura, superintendent of Maury County Public Schools.
According to Ventura, Spiess had been part of their school system since preschool. His mother even serves as a school nurse.
It’s a loss that carries through the halls of CHS.
“He was special. He definitely was special,” sighed Ferguson.
Spiess was an 11th grader at CHS with special abilities.
“When I tell you that this young man is the definition of the best part of humanity, that’s not an over exaggeration. Will was the type of child who made you want to be better, who made you want to live life to the fullest. He exemplified how we all should live, and acceptance, and diversity, and the greatest love,” said Ventura.
Spiess was often found in the hall greeting students and teachers with his bright smile.
“He would stand at this one corner and every time I pass it now, it’s like there’s something missing out of the halls now,” said Spiess’ Best Buddy, Chance Michael.
Spiess was often donning a cowboy hat and boots while playing country music out of a portable speaker.
“Sports, cowboys, and girls. That was Will,” his teacher, Rachel Lombardo, laughed.
His passion was always to be part of a team, dedicating much of his time to the basketball team.
“He loved sports. You know, everybody talked about the cowboy boots and the cowboy hat, but he loved sports. He will always be Mr. CHS Columbia Central High School,” Coach Larry Jones explained.
Spiess’ infectious spirit stretched beyond the school walls.
“He was the face of not just Central, but the community,” stated Lombardo.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate Spiess’ death, saying at this time the fire appears to be accidental.
Spiess’ funeral service will be held Thursday; his family has asked instead of flowers that donations be made to the CHS Best Buddies Organization.
The school will host a balloon release Friday and is asking for everyone to wear purple along with a cowboy hat and boots in Spiess’ honor.
A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help the Spiess family during this difficult time.