SE mourns loss of brothers

The Seneca East community is gathering this morning to pay respects to two brothers from Republic who lost their lives in a crash in Reed Township last week.

The funeral for Phillip L. Bollinger and Dillon E. Bollinger, who were students at Seneca East High School, is at Lindsey-Olds Funeral Home, Bloomville, and their burial is at Attica-Venice Cemetery, Attica.

Gary Manasco, a high school science teacher and the boys’ golf coach, said Phillip and Dillon were the kinds of students and players one wants.

“They had fun at what they did. They worked at what they did. … (They were) nice young men. That’s a big loss for our school,” he said.

According to the funeral home, the brothers were members of Republic Rowdy Rednecks 4-H Club and participated in Attica Independent Fair.

Phillip, a 17-year-old senior, was involved in quiz bowl and the wrestling and golf teams and was an assistant coach in Bloomville’s youth baseball league. Dillon, a 15-year-old sophomore, was involved in band, quiz bowl and the basketball and golf teams, according to the funeral home.

Dana Willman, band director for Seneca East Local School District, said the high school band is going to play at the cemetery, and because both were Seneca East students, people thought it would be appropriate to play the school’s fight song and alma mater. The songs are the same as the fight song and alma mater of Ohio State University; Dillon wanted to be in the university’s marching band.

Willman said the band would have had an ice cream social, its first official meeting, Monday evening, but it was canceled due to the boys’ calling hours. Dillon, who played bassoon, French horn and mellophone, would have been involved in the social, she said.

Willman said Dillon had been involved in band since fifth grade and participated in every band the school had, including the concert, marching and pep bands. He was going to be a music section leader as a sophomore in the fall.

“He liked band so much. … (He was) such a good kid,” she said.

Willman described Dillon as a friendly, intelligent and quiet boy who kept to himself and never was in trouble. She said he always was alert, ready to play and had his uniform together, and she could tell he worked hard on the field. He will be sorely missed, she said.

“It’s sad beyond words,” she said.

Kiana Curtiss, a sophomore who was in Dillon’s class, had been friends with him since elementary school. She said he was a nice person, and she called him “dill pickle.”

“He just loved talking to people,” she said.

Phillip had completed his junior year at Seneca East and was in the collision repair program at Sentinel Career and Technology Center.

Carl Rusch, his instructor at Sentinel, said he was a good student and had become a good friend. Phillip stopped by to see Rusch a few days before the accident that claimed his life, and the two talked about his baseball coaching position. Phillip was excited about it, Rusch said.

“(He was) always happy to help somebody,” he said.

Rusch said he never saw anyone who was so happy all the time. He said he was unable to tell the color of Phillip’s eyes because he always was squinting because he was smiling so much.

“(He was) just a super happy kid. … (He) was a happy guy,” he said.

Rusch recalled Phillip bringing steaks and cooking them on the grill on Sentinel’s last day of school this year. He said Phillip had talked about competing in the SkillsUSA refinishing competition and being an ambassador next year. Phillip always was one to bring up his classmates’ moods, he said.

“They’re having a tough time; there’s no doubt about it,” he said.

Kayla Sanchez, a senior at Columbian High School and one of Phillip’s classmates in the collision repair program, said the group is trying to cope with the situation as a team and be there for each other. Students are taking a bus to the funeral home together today, she said.

“(We have) got a great support team behind us,” she said.

Sanchez described Phillip as athletic, caring, fun, funny and outgoing and said he always was excited about something.

“It wasn’t in his character to be negative about something. … He always was a great person,” she said.