By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
Jordan Tassy — the Montclair man with severe COVID-19 whose story inspired community members to raise more than $45,000 for his support in just three days — has died.
He was 22, the Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael said in video a message of mourning and prayer published by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair Thursday.
“Early this morning, we lost a dear one, a child of this congregation,” Anya Sammler-Michael said. She offered condolences and said “our hearts reach out in love and care” to his family
Councilman Peter Yacobellis, who has been in touch with the Tassy family, shared the news in social media posts Thursday evening as well.
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“Many of you have long known Jordan and I won’t pretend to understand your grief. Many of you have only recently gotten to know of Jordan because of work he was doing to augment our town services that were curtailed dramatically because of a COVID-19 outbreak among our employees,” Yacobellis wrote. “That’s how I got to know him and I am commenting from perspective of a member of an at-large community grieving him.”
As Yacobellis discussed and Montclair Local reported in early March, Tassy became known to many of his Montclair neighbors during the township’s recent recycling pickup suspension. He’d posted an open offer online to deliver recyclables to the township’s Community Services yard for a small fee. “Some of us have children, jobs and other responsibilities that make the transportation of our plastic and paper waste unrealistic. And then what? We’re supposed to settle with just throwing our recycling away with the rest of our waste? I say no!” he wrote in the private “Secret Montclair” Facebook group. He booked dozens of pickups, Tassy told Montclair Local at the time.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about service lately and community,” Yacobellis wrote Thursday. “The pandemic has shined a light on what those things look like in all of their forms. And for all of the darkness, we’ve also seen such beautiful spirit. Living the famous mantra of John F. Kennedy; Jordan didn’t ask what this town could do for him. He stepped up and asked what he could do for this town. That’s who we lost. And it’s devastatingly heartbreaking.”
Tassy first fell ill with COVID-19 on March 15, his mother, Norma, wrote in a GoFundMe campaign she later started after speaking with Yacobellis. On March 16, after a night of not feeling well, he left the family’s home by ambulance for the Mountainside emergency room.
“At the time, we believed he would be treated and released. By mid day on the 16th Jordan was on a ventilator and we were told that his chance of survival were slim,” Norma Tassy wrote.
His story spread quickly online. Within 12 hours of the fundraiser’s start, it had collected more than $32,000 for his care.
“I loved this kid,” Mark Greene wrote on the fundraiser Thursday. “He was a very bright light and a joy to be around, My heart and Nash’s heart and Logan’s heart are broken.”
In Sammler-Michael’s video message, she asked in a prayer of God, “Help us to feel jordan, to remember the smile that he brought forth, again and again — the way that he moved in the world with care and love, and with incredible attention to those in need.
“Help us to hold this beautiful soul in our hearts, even as we mourn the terrible loss.”
Sammler-Michael said Thursday there were not yet plans for a memorial, but the congregation would let the community know when plans had been made.
Montclair Township had recorded 69 deaths due to COVID-19 as of Thursday, with the most recent officially registered on Tuesday. The township had seen 2,231 coronavirus cases by that point — 20 newly registered on Thursday.