In Their Own Words: Friends, family reflect on the life of Andre...

In Their Own Words: Friends, family reflect on the life of Andre Fuqua

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Andre touched many people over the course of his life (photo collage courtesy of Chris Garza)

Andre Fuqua was a man always on the move. When he wasn’t working on his kinesiology degree he was either running in various cross country events, bicycling between Kingsville and Bishop or hiking the Chisos Mountains at Big Bend National Park. But his life was cut tragically short Tuesday when he succumbed to wounds from a shooting incident that occurred on the way back from a cross-country competition near Galveston. His loss is being felt by the many people touched and influenced by his boundless energy, generosity, and work ethic.  Although Andre has left this Earth, his legacy and his story live on in the memories of his teammates, coaches, teachers, friends, and family. 

(photo courtesy of the Caller Times)Andre Fuqua races at Malaquite beach during his senior year of high school (photo courtesy of the Caller Times)

“In high school, especially in my freshman year, I was one of those turtle shell kids, and I didn’t have a lot of people to hang around with… Meeting him, he was just a very energetic, super-happy, super-hyper kid like all the time. He had one of the most uplifting personalities…He would always tell me after a race ‘Hey kid, good job’. Honestly if it wasn’t for him I don’t think I would’ve kept with running, because I just felt like I didn’t have a lot of friends. He introduced me to a lot of people I still talk to today.” Emmanuel Ibanez, former Javelina cross-country athlete.

(photo courtesy of Danica Huerta)
Andre (fourth from the left) with the Javelina cross country team (photo courtesy of Danica Huerta)

“I remember when we were introducing ourselves [at TAMUK] you could tell the kid was a runner as thin as he was and he was just happy to be with the team…he had mentioned surfing and I remember thinking to myself man this kid is just a ball of energy.” – Joshua Prado former Javelina cross-country and track athlete.

“He was only a Freshman [when I met him] but I knew right away he would be a team leader because he had this big smile and great attitude that just drew people into wanting to work and win for the team” – Lige Stewardson, former Javelina cross country and track coach.

“What I really enjoyed about Andre was the evolution of him becoming a team guy. He not only had personal success but team success and it can be attributed to someone like Andre buying in… [Javelina cross country] went from being one of the bottom feeders of the conference to something people could contend with and Andre was a big part of that. Going from being one of the guys that was struggling to one of the leaders of our team” – Chris Garza, former Javelina cross-country athlete

“I remember after school we would randomly go for a drives just to look at the scenery. Whenever he found a place that he loved he would say ‘let’s run here tomorrow’… If I needed his help he was there and if he needed my help I was there. Overall he was a caring person and he always put others first.” – Karen Martinez

“we would randomly go for a drives just to look at the scenery. Whenever he found a place that he loved he would say ‘let’s run here tomorrow’ “

“He came in like a little whippersnapper like he was and said ‘I’m going to run an ultra [marathon].’ I laughed him out of here. I said ‘Let me tell you something: running as fast as you can for three miles is nothing like running 50 miles’.  And he said ‘You don’t understand, I think I can run a five minute pace’. I said ‘Well Andre, you’re not going to run a five-minute pace for five hours, trust me on that one. This is experience talking here’. Well he went out and did his first one and he went out too hard and didn’t come see me for a couple of days , so I knew it was his ego. But then he finally came back in and I say ‘I guess you’re going to admit that I’m right’ and he’s like ‘Yeah, I guess so.’ So we started talking about training properly for that kind of thing. One race he passed me at the 31 mile marker and he looked like he just started. I’m out there laboring and Andre comes up around me and is like ‘Looking good Dr. K!’ and he’s all full of energy and everything. And I’m thinking ‘Oh my gosh, to be young again.'” – Dr. Lorraine Killion, professor of Kinesiology, ultra-marathoner

Photo courtesy of Danica Huerta
2013 winners of the Beach to Bay mixed division (Andre on the left, Lige Stewardson 2nd from the left)

“Andre knew how to pack 120 seconds into a minute and I think his influence changed all of us for the better. He was a real dreamer, and would give all that was asked and more.” – Lige Stewardson

“Andre had a natural persona that brought people in. He was very outgoing so people gravitated towards him. People that were more reserved, he would pull towards them because he was the quiet, shy guy as a freshman, so he didn’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable and that experience of being the loner. He naturally gravitated towards people that needed him and I think that’s what made him a good leader.” – Chris Garza

(photo courtesy of Dr. Killion)
Andre and Dr. Lorraine Killion (photo courtesy of Dr. Killion)

“He ran out to get me [during his final race] and he didn’t finish because he broke his glasses. And so he waited for me. So when I got out of the forest at the end of the race, he came out and got me and ran me back in. That’s Andre. You don’t have to go out and get one of the Masters runners that was out on the trail an hour longer than you, but he did, that was Andre. It didn’t make any difference to him. He was gonna come out and make sure I was okay, that was Andre. Everybody, it didn’t make a difference who you are what level you were, anything, Andre would run and get you.” – Dr. Killion

“One of the last conversations I had with him was a bit of a nostalgia trip. I remember telling him that ‘I’m nervous, I’m really nervous right now because I’m trying to finish school at the same time I’m teaching for the very first time. I’m a full-time teacher and a full-time student and I feel very stressed out’. One of the last things I remember him telling me was ‘Don’t worry about it. If anything you’re doing awesome, just like your dad. I’m proud of you and I’m pretty sure a lot of people are proud of you. Just go ahead and keep doing what you’re doing.’ Then he said bye and that was it. Then all the news happened and it felt so odd to me that it seemed like one of those conversations where in hindsight you look back and think that was an appropriate goodbye, but then at the same time I feel that there types of things I should’ve said like ‘Hey thank you for helping me get out my little shell in high school, and thank you for everything.'” – Emmanuel Ibanez

(photo courtesy of Briana Villarreal)
Briana Vilarreal and Andre (photo courtesy of Briana Villarreal)

“I was going to ask Andre to stand up with me at my wedding and I was going to tell him he would be wearing a maroon bow tie. I have a maroon bow tie with me and will be leaving it with Andre. Even though Andre will not make it to my wedding, I know he will be there in spirit. He was a great person and will be missed very much.” – Briana Villarreal

“‘When God picks flowers, he’s not picking the ones that still need to grow, he’s looking for the ones that blossom, the ones that continue to shine above the rest’ and God had bigger plans for him.”

I think of a quote when my mother died, ‘When God picks flowers, he’s not picking the ones that still need to grow, he’s looking for the ones that blossom, the ones that continue to shine above the rest’ and God had bigger plans for him. Unfortunately for us, we don’t want to accept that, that’s probably is the case. We’ll always hold that dear spot in our hearts.” – Chris Gaza