(Photographed by Volunteer Photographer Lilly Lafleur)
Sports Editor: Shailyn Bacchiocchi
Arts & Entertainment Editor: Kamryn Kobel
On April 6th, 2023, the UMass Dartmouth campus lost Frankie Petillo Jr., a freshman bio-engineering major and an active member of the UMass Dartmouth community.
Before attending UMass Dartmouth, he resided in New Jersey and was active in all things performing. This included theater, dance, and singing.
Once he started his attendance at UMass Dartmouth, he quickly became a part of many smaller communities within UMass Dartmouth.
He was the Chair of professional development for the Student Alumni Association, performed in the UMass Dartmouth Theatre company, and was a part of the lacrosse club team.
His memory lives on through his family, friends, and the UMass Dartmouth community, all of whom cherished the light he spread throughout his encounters.
The Torch received numerous memories from friends of Frankie, all of which express love and thankfulness for the times they have spent with Frankie.
We are grateful to be trusted to share some of these vulnerable messages, and as always, we hope anyone who knows Frankie can find comfort in the times they have spent with him.
We will let these memories speak for themselves as an indication of Frankie’s impact on this world.
“My name is Ava Reid. My favorite memory with Frankie was during Halloween weekend.
We had both discussed that it would be fun to dress up, although we didn’t have costumes. We made a plan that he would go to his room and plan out a random costume with the clothes he had, and I would do the same. A few minutes later, he came back to my room dressed up in a lacrosse jersey, and I had on a Bruins jersey. We laughed and smiled about how we didn’t plan to match and how our brains were just thinking the same thing. The rest of the night consisted of Frankie pushing me around the halls of Spruce in one of the blue moving bins and us calling it ‘Ava’s Zambon.’ We later invited our friends to join us for a pasta night in the Spruce kitchen, and all wore jerseys.
He was one of the best people I have ever met, and I miss him more than anything.”
“Frankie was persistent, driven and involved. I miss him so much he inspired me to be involved more in the school.” – anonymous
“Frankie and I had a class together, and we talked about how much we didn’t understand anything that was happening in the class. It seems so small but conversations like that made me feel less alone, I will miss our chats.” – anonymous
“Frankie became Chair of Professional Development this year for the Student Alumni Association. We are a club that connects students and alumni through traditions to provide networking opportunities and improve the student experience. I am president of this club.
Frankie was very persistent about taking on a leadership role. He often approached me after meetings and messaged me about it for weeks. When I finally promoted him to chair, I asked him to meet with me to discuss his new role and some of the expectations I had for him. I asked for 10 minutes of his time.
We met in the campus center. We didn’t sit. We stood by the commuter pit stop. Our meeting lasted an hour. We spoke about his new role for about 10 minutes, and the rest of the time, he just talked to me.
One of our club meetings fell on his 19th birthday. He messaged me, ‘Next meeting is on my birthday. Mind if I bring in a treat for everyone?’ I offered for him to take off the meeting. He said he had to work anyways, and he liked coming to meetings. Most people skip on their birthday. Frankie brought in cupcakes. After the meeting, he went to his shift at the library.
One meeting, he came in so quietly, not unusual for him. He didn’t draw attention to himself, but I could tell he was off. The next day he messaged me and apologized for being off. He had a rough day. But he still came. This semester he had a role in the Addams Family Values. I didn’t see the play, but I saw a clip of him singing. He was amazing, totally lit up on stage.
He was pretty quiet during meetings, but I would catch him talking to people every once in a while, smiling that huge smile of his and laughing. He was the sweetest, most modest, genuine, and hardworking kid I’ve known. He worked hard in class. He had goals. It is so unfair.
Thank you for what you’re doing. Frankie wasn’t someone I saw every day, but now I will carry him with me wherever I go. I hope we can all find peace in each other.
“I can’t say enough good things about Frankie, everything seems so unfair because he deserves to be here. He always knew what to say, he helped me through hard times, he loved doing so many different things here.” – anonymous
“Frankie was an amazing addition to the UMass SAA” – anonymous
“Hello, as I knew Frankie personally, he was one of my closest friends, I would like to share one of my favorite memories of him. Frankie, myself, and our friend Abby would always go to Mirasols for hot chocolate. We would sit and talk and drive around listening to Bruno Mars for what felt like hours. He was the greatest friend I ever had the chance to know. He was kind, smart, and always smiling about something. I was blessed to have crossed paths with him in this lifetime. He will be missed by all of us.
“I don’t know what to say, other than Frankie never failed to make me smile. He always had a positive attitude, it was infectious. He made me feel better and always provided support, even if he was struggling himself. I miss you Frankie.” – anonymous
We want to thank everyone again for sharing their memories of Frankie. We hope these memories exemplify his lasting impact on the people who knew him.
If you are looking for on-campus support, the Counseling Center can be reached at 508-999-8648 or by visiting their website here.
The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life provides confidential pastoral counseling and can be reached at 508-999-8872.
One thought on “Forever in our Memory: Frankie Petillo Jr.”
Beautiful article. Respectful and truly put my heart at peace. The included memories show our love for him. May he be missed.