Those who knew and loved Maxwell Bennett before he died came together Saturday to celebrate the life of a teenage boy known for his contagious smile, stand-up personality and big-hearted generosity.
More than 100 people packed the Cary-Grove Adventist Fellowship church to sing songs, share stories about Max and console his family.
On Oct. 27, Max died by suicide. He was 15. He is survived by his parents, Elijah and Rosaura Bennett; his sister, Jennifer; his brother, Elijah; and a niece, Amber.
Max was born July 22, 2003, in Chicago. His family later moved to Crystal Lake. He was a sophomore at Crystal Lake South High School.
An obituary shared at the memorial service described Max as a kid who never judged, someone quick to defend anyone who needed defending. He always took time to listen to those he loved.
Those who knew Max best called him caring, funny, humble and happy.
His hobbies included working out, playing at the park with his buddies, ping pong, hanging out with animal friends (a dog, cats and a parrot) and playing video games.
Max looked forward to summer. He loved to fish with his dad and brother. He liked to make it a competition.
He didn’t care about the size of the fish, as long as he was the first to catch it.
His brother, Elijah, called him “pookie man.” Max called his big brother a “boof.”
“I’ll miss my brother opening the door for me,” said his sister, Jennifer. “I liked our car rides together.”
Max loved riding his long-board skateboard. One of the last things he did was ride his board.
A smart student, Max excelled in math. He wanted to grow up to be a technical engineer. In class, he’d reach out and tug the hair of Steph, the girl who sat in front of him. Steph thought Max was mysterious, and they became friends.
“He was always that kid with the hood up,” she said. “[There was] something about him, I’m just like, I gotta get to know him.”
They were the troublemakers in class, always snickering and making light of the day’s complicated equations.
“My teacher told me that a smile in the hallway and a simple hello can make a difference,” Steph said. “I never really understood that until now, because she’s right. That smile, that hello does make a difference in this world, and it could save many many people’s lives. That’s what I realized when Max passed away.”