By Greg Hanlon
John Buzzard, a 15-year-old honor student at Xaverian High School, died the Sunday before last in Maimonides Medical Center. He succumbed three days after collapsing suddenly during a touch-tackle football game in Dyker Beach Park. According to his family, the West Brighton, Staten Island resident’s collapse and death were caused by heart and brain-related conditions. A well-rounded young man whose interests were broad and developed, Buzzard touched those he knew with his infectious enthusiasm. Although his life was cut short, Buzzard made the most of his days. A sophomore at Xaverian, he was recently inducted to the Xaverian’s National Honor Society chapter. But his attention to academics did not prevent him from pursuing extracurricular activities. At Xaverian – which he chose because of emphasis on both academics and extracurricular activities – Buzzard was involved in the music program, French Club, stage crew, and drama department. In addition, he loved sports. He played wide receiver for the Xaverian football team and had been playing Catholic Youth Organization basketball since he was eight years old. “He loved giving his all to teams and schools,” his mother, Jean Buzzard, told the Staten Island Advance last week. “He always did what he was asked. He would go into school an hour and a half early just to play basketball with the guys.” John’s sense of adventure and desire to live life to its fullest led to join the People to People Student Ambassador program, whose goal is to teach students about other cultures and ways of life through hands-on experiences and outdoor adventure. As a sixth grader with the program – which he joined after receiving an anonymous recommendation – John spend two and a half weeks in San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. The next year, he went to Australia for three weeks. Closer to home, Buzzard was a devoted parishioner at Sacred Heart R.C. Church in West Brighton, where he was involved in the church’s youth group. When he was younger, he had been an altar server. “He was a person of integrity and honesty. He was a conscientious and intelligent young man. Really a person of solid character,” said Father Louis Jerome, pastor at Sacred Heart. “It's a tragedy of immense proportions. It's so unnatural for somebody that young to pass. It took us all by complete surprise.” John is survived by his mother, Jean, his father, Frederick Buzzard; his three brothers, Frederick Jr., Robert, and Patrick; and his grandmothers, Elizabeth Hartmann and Caroline Buzzard. John is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in West Brighton.