Hundreds of people gathered around the Thomas family at River Creek Club near Leesburg on Sunday for a vigil to remember Fitz Campbell Thomas, the 16-year-old who died Thursday evening while swimming at the confluence of Goose Creek and the Potomac River.
He is the son of Michelle and Delroy Thomas and brother to Anna and Adrian. His mother, in particular, is well known in the community—she is a pastor, founder of the Loudoun Freedom Center, and president of the Loudoun NAACP, among other roles. The vigil to remember Fitz brought out elected officials, other community organizers, and around 300 mourners.
And Fitz was remembered and celebrated for how he cared for his family and community, too.
“Anybody who knows me and knows Fitz, we was like oil and water,” Michelle Thomas said. “And that’s because Fitz is exactly like his momma. Fitz lived life on his own terms.”
She said Fitz helped her love the community where she has led many fights.
“He said ‘well, momma, you don’t know them like I know them.’ He said ‘my friends are great. The people are great.’ And I said from my view, I’m fighting, so I don’t know. I was wrong. I was plenty wrong,” Thoms said. “…Fitz was right. We live in the greatest county in the world, but nothing had ever challenged me to see it like this. I fought many fights, very few, if any, for myself. I didn’t have the same vantage point. I didn’t always feel the love coming back. But this time, I was wrong. Fitz, you were right. We live in the greatest county in the world, and the people are great, and they will come along side of you, just like you said.”
Anna said Fitz talked about his friends so much, when some came to offer their condolences, she recognized them from Fitz’s stories.
“There was so much that he could help me with, but he helped me with enough already,” she said. “I’m just so grateful that he had such great friends, and he would always talk about his friends like he worshiped them. He loved his friend so, so much.”
“You’re here today and you’re gone tomorrow, so as I said, forgive, forgive,” Adrian said. “Any malice that you guys have in your heart with friends or family, please forgive because that’s the most important thing.”
“Fitz was a purposeful man,” Michelle said. “He spent 16 years, and he has fulfilled his purpose. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.”