James White was one of those kids who could light up a room with his smile, and behind that smile was the soul of person who cared deeply for others, said Erin Littles, a friend who got to know White when they attended Columbia High School together a decade ago.
As reported earlier, White, who grew up in South Orange and attended Columbia High School, was murdered at approximately 5 a.m. yesterday at 159 Jacoby Street in Maplewood. It was later reported that White had undergone sex reassignment surgery and had legally changed her name to Victoria Carmen White.
Littles, who became friends with White while they attended Columbia High School together, said, "She (White) always encouraged people to be the best that they can be." Littles says she was shy in high school, and White wanted to get her out of her shell.
White, who was a part of Special Dance and cheerleading at the high school, helped Littles by making her try out for extra-curricular activities. They became more than friends, said Littles—they became family. Littles feels as though she has lost a sister, and the world has lost the heart and soul behind that smile.
On Facebook pages, other friends write of a "wonderful person," who was continuously making other laugh and smile.
One of those friends is Alanna Carter. "I've never met a more radiant soul," Carter write in an email. "Not only was she extraordinarily strong, she was also beautifully gregarious, kind, sweet, and gentle. I have never known anyone so intent on remaining true to herself. Things were not always easy for her but she never lost sight of the big picture. She loved life and accepted all of its hurdles with grace and understanding. Even though her life was tragically cut short, she cherished every moment, every experience, and perhaps most of all, every single friend."
Angela DeRocco has known White since the sixth grade at South Orange Middle School where they attended school together and became close. "She was an amazing person, with a bubbly personality," said DeRocco. "Back in school she was shy, but one thing I have always liked about her and respected her for was that she didn't care what others thought. She did what she had to do and what made her happy. No matter what she did, it would put a smile on your face. She just had that effect." DeRocco said that White became close to her entire family and was even the godmother of her daughter.
DeRocco has this message for Victoria White: "Victoria, you were a wonderful person, and an amazing friend. Thank you for everything! Words cannot express the pain my heart feels. I will always treasure the memories we have! You will forever be missed, my love. Rest in peace."
We expect to add more photos and testimonials to James/Victoria White in coming days. Please add your remembrances. Tell us in the comments.