A Role Model for Others

Name: Lillian Hsu

Location: Ithaca, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Acquaintance/classmate

I knew of Jessica since middle school, but didn’t really meet Jessica until my freshman year of high school.

Jessica in high school

© jessicafashano.com

It’s been nearly 10 years since I last saw Jessica, and while I don’t know if Jessica remembered me, I definitely remember her. Though I never really saw her outside of school or school-related activities, and, regrettably, never got the chance to really get to know her, Jessica was a role model for me. As an impressionable freshman at WPHS, I knew from the moment I met her that she was the type of person I wanted to emulate. She had it all: intelligence, athleticism, beauty (both inner and physical), humility, grace, and above all, a warm and generous heart. Most of my interactions with her were through extracurricular activities, and her leadership style was admirable. She was self-motivated and dedicated, and her enthusiasm for whichever club activity or cause, particularly those that helped the less fortunate, she was promoting was contagious. Jessica, though you probably never knew it, I looked up to you back then, and continue to look up to you now. Thank you for being a great role model to me and all the other people you’ve unknowingly inspired. Your legacy will live on through the memories and hearts of everyone who ever had the good fortune of sharing even just a few minutes of your life.

A Smile for Everyone

Name: Kara Amendola

Location: East Hanover, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Former Classmate

I met Jessica in middle school.

Jessica on the first day of school

© jessicafashano.com

I didn’t know Jessica well like many of the people posting on this site; didn’t know where she went to college, what philanthropic organizations she supported, or what her cat’s name was (did she even have a cat)? In fact, I only found out about Jessica’s passing this spring during dinner with an old school friend. Upon hearing the news, my fork stopped half-way to my mouth (which had formed an absurd “O” shape that might’ve been comical under any other circumstance), and all I could think of to say in response was, “…what?” Her death was on my mind for the rest of the evening.

I asked myself later why I’d been so shocked. After all, we were only passing acquaintances in middle school and half of high school, well over a decade ago. People die all time, usually never penetrating our hardened shells. But sometimes you meet the rare person that you just know is “one of the good ones,” and without knowing her well or being her friend, I just knew at an early age that Jessica was “one of the good ones.”

Let’s pause for a moment and recall that Jessica and I were first introduced in middle school, a time when the teen social hierarchy was really starting to emerge and our schoolmates were beginning to act as if it mattered. The athletes, the honor roll kids, the art/drama nerds, the band/choir geeks, the grungy hemp hippies… Everyone was trying to find their niche, differentiate themselves (yet still fit in), and figure out how they were going to survive the next seven years. And of course they were treating their peers accordingly.

Jessica wasn’t like that. My few memories of Jessica involved her having a smile for everyone, no matter what social circle you were contained in. And she didn’t quite fit into one place like so many of our classmates; she moved in and out of circles at will with a laugh that reverberated down the hallways, and she often displayed a sense of warmth and heart that many of our peers had discarded at the doors as the ultimate in “uncool.”

The simple truth is that people like Jessica have a way of leaving an imprint on social passersby, and whether it’s 10, 20, or 50 years later, you unexpectedly find that you still remember that laugh, that smile; and you wish you’d known them just a little bit better, had taken time to dig just a little bit deeper. Jessica, I’m sorry for the pain that you suffered and am happy to think you finally found your bit of peace in this crazy world. Long live your memory and your legacy.


Name: Tina Casale

Location: Morristown, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica:  Friend

I met Jessica about 10 yrs ago through a friend, Kourtney, and Jess’ sister, Danielle. I work in a salon and waxed their eyebrows!

Jessica, Christmas Eve 2005

© jessicafashano.com

I’ll never forget the first time I met Jessica and how beautiful her eyes and her smile were!!!! She always seemed happy and we had a lot of laughs!!! It was always nice to see her and I see her sister all the time who is one of the nicest people!!!! You will be missed Jess!!!



Name: Kourtney Hydock

Location: Mendham, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Best friend

I’ve known Jessica for 25 years.  We grew up together on Forest Way.

© jessicafashano.com

My nearest & dearest friend Jessica:

Where to begin…I always envied the person you were but more so the person you were becoming. I knew we were not always together but we were never too far apart either. We had the type of friendship where we could pick up right where we left off and that to me is the type of friendship I knew could last forever. There was no doubt in my mind that one day you were going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding – if I ever find the right guy. I know now instead you will be looking down at me and probably laughing at me thinking to yourself, “Kourt you are being ridiculous spending way too much money on your makeup and hair.” I can see it now.

Jessica, you have blessed my life for the past 27 years. I will always remember Pepperoni House and the various memories we created at both our houses on Forest Way. I still cannot believe my parents decided to move out of Trailwood. I always went shopping with my Mom instead of hanging out with you, Kristen & Danielle as children. Sorry about that, shopping got the best of me as always. You were the first one to call me Dorts because you couldn’t pronounce Kourt too well back then.

I will always cherish our Miami trip with Nicole and Theresa and more than anything, the family cruises we went on together, especially when we got off the dock in Bermuda without Danielle because she didn’t want to go clubbing but Jeff however did. We had one of the best nights. You called the guy Steve I met on the cruise “waiter boy” because he always wore a tux and left it on during formal nights. HAHA. I actually told him that recently when I saw him again. The many overnight trips I came to visit you in the big apple especially for you bringing me to Tenjune on your birthday you knew how badly I wanted to check out that spot. What a classic night that was.

The memory that will play back in my mind forever is doing baseball stats with you junior & senior year of high school. I know you were ambivalent about it at first and I know you did it to spend time with me as you put in my yearbook and that truly meant the most to me. It was a great way to spend time together and get an appreciation for the sport. There were countless laughs and probably many mistakes mainly on my part but all in great fun.

How can we forget prom 2001 we had to get a flashy limousine from the city and of course what color interior did it have but yellow. You started crying when you saw it. Who wouldn’t they were one and a half hours late to pick us up.

You wrote in my yearbook that we would grow to be old ladies together and that unfortunately doesn’t hold true anymore Jess…oh how I wish that was the case. I remember your laugh and smile like it was yesterday. The way you carried yourself with such dignity and class. You were my once in a lifetime friend. I will look back on these memories and so many more and hold them near and dear in my heart forever. You showed me what friendship is all about.

We would have celebrated twenty five years of our friendship this year. Not too many people could say that. “It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends.”

I loved you when I was 2 ½ and I love you more than ever at 27. You will forever be a part of me, Jessbabes.

Your one & only Dorts. xOx

Montauk Wedding Memories

Name: Lauren Rossi

Location: Morris Plains, NJ

Relationship to Jessica: Friend to my son and me

I met Jessica when she became friends with my son Nick in middle school in 1994.

Jessica & her lobster, October 2010

Jessica, Lauren, & Kristin at the Rossi Wedding, October 2010

© jessicafashano.com

I wanted to share with you my thoughts and memories of the last time I saw Jessica. The night before Nick and Kristen’s wedding, as we celebrated at the rehearsal dinner, Jessica sat with me, Matt, Maggie, my brother Doug, sister in law Renate and Billy Williams. It had been years since Jessica had seen my brother Doug but remembered his crazy sense of humor from times at our house for BBQs. All through dinner Doug referred to Billy as “Billy Billy” and each time he did we heard Jessica’s signature laugh! When the waiter brought Jessica her lobster she picked up the cracker and laughed as she told us she had no idea how to use it. As you can see in the photo she proudly wore her lobster bib.

We spent the night talking and laughing as my brother tried to get her to try some crazy drinks. It had been years since I had the opportunity to spend so much time with Jessica and catch up with her and hear all about her job. I felt so bad for her when she told me that she had a car service picking her up Sunday morning at 4 am because she had a business trip and an early morning flight, she told me she was just going to pull an all-nighter because she didn’t want to miss any of the celebration. We talked about her job and how she enjoyed what she was doing.

The next day at the wedding Jessica looked absolutely beautiful as she greeted guests coming into the church. When we were all back at the reception Jessica grabbed me and said she wanted a picture of us to remember the day, it’s one of my favorite pictures. All night long at the reception I watched Nick, Kristen, and their amazing friends dance the night way without a care in the world, right in the middle of it all was Jessica. Her laugh was contagious and her smile was genuine and sincere.

I am so proud to have known Jessica and I will treasure the memories of Montauk forever. She will be missed. At such a young age Jessica made a huge impact on everyone who knew her.