ARP, Texas — Arp senior Thomas Fuller lit up every room he went into -- his kindness took center stage and he hardly ever met a stranger, according to his friends and classmates.
Fuller was only 17 when he passed away in April when his vehicle crashed into a tree.
"I know for me personally it’s been a lot of gravesite visits. We’re all missing our best friend and we all wish that he was here," said his best friend, Hunter Nash.
For his best friend Hunter Nash, Fuller's legacy will live on through the motto "LLTF," which means "Love Like Thomas Fuller."
As the Arp High School class of 2023 celebrates graduation Thursday night, Fuller's father will be in attendance, accepting his son's diploma.
"I'm glad he's being recognized because he graduated too. Nobody will tell us any different he graduated. He deserves it," Nash said. "Thomas wanted to either be a trauma nurse or an anesthesiologist nurse... we planned on both attending UT Tyler together."
While Nash and his friends did enjoy their senior trip to Grand Slam, one thing was missing, and it was Fuller.
"It was so much different without Thomas being there. Just because he was the life of any event we did and it was it was hard to not have him there," Nash said.
They have grown closer then ever even calling Fuller's parents his own.
"I don't think we've (the group of friends) gone more than three or four days without all hanging out together," Nash said. "I want them to know how much we love them and how much they mean to us and how they now have an army of 18 year-olds ready to go to war for them."
Arp is a close community with only 63 seniors graduating in the 2023 class.
"We're very tight knit community, losing a family member has been hard," said Arp High School Valedictorian Molly Mwamba.
Mwamba often looked up to Fuller and was heartbroken to hear the news of his sudden death. She knew Fuller all four years of high school and will always remember how he encouraged her in powerlifting.
She knew Fuller all four years of high school and will always remember how he encouraged her in powerlifting.
"We all wish that he was here... we all stand with his parents," Nash said.
Arp High School's graduation starts at 7 p.m. Thursday.