WESTFIELD, NJ (NEWS 12/CNN) - A high school in New Jersey is mourning its principal who died trying to help a complete stranger.
Derrick Nelson, principal at Westfield High School, died Sunday from complications after donating bone marrow to a 14-year-old boy in France, his fiancee Sheronda Baker said.
The Westfield choir set the tone for Wednesday evening delivering a somber and reflective mood.
Students, parents and faculty huddled together on the lawn outside the school with candles in hand.
They also offered thoughts on who Nelson was as a man and role model.
“He was selfless with his students, he was selfless with his country,” said Briana Hatch, a student. “He was selfless with family and friends.”
Another student shared similar thoughts.
“He lived everything he said and he made our school, our community and our family so much better. Dr. Nelson has truly left a hand print on all of our hearts.”
Nelson was contacted by a group called Be The Match. They suggested his bone marrow might save the life of a 14-year-old overseas.
He told the school newspaper in February that he decided to go forward with the procedure saying, “if it’s just a little bit of pain for a little bit of time that can give someone years of joy, it’s all worth it.”
One of the last to speak to the crowd was his fiancee.
"He is truly our hero,” Baker said. “Thank you."