An Instant Friend

Name: Hayley Ramsey

Location: Wichita, Kansas

Relationship to Jessica: Friend

I met Jessica in July 2001 in Washington, D.C., when we both attended Presidential Classroom.

Jessica & Hayley at Presidential Classroom


I met Jessica in the summer of 2001 when we both attended Presidential Classroom in Washington, DC. I was nervous about being away from home and among complete strangers for a whole week. I remember meeting some other kids attending PC on the shuttle ride from the airport to the hotel, and they had quickly started comparing GPAs and extra-curricular activities. I was worried I was in for a long, lonely week.

Later that day I was assigned to my small group, the group I would spend nearly the entire week with, and I was lucky enough to have Jessica assigned to my group. She came in a little late and sat down next to me, and I immediately felt less lonely. We became fast friends and spent the week together. She introduced me to Starbucks after-coffee mints and taught me how to speak with a New Jersey accent. We both enjoyed the activities of PC but didn’t take it as seriously as some of the other kids, and just had a good time together. I look back on that week fondly, mostly because of Jessica. Sure, it was good to be in DC and learn about government, but the best part was laughing with my new friend.

At the end of the week I was sad to say good bye to her, but we kept in touch with phone calls, letters, and e-mails. We could talk on the phone for hours, about the absurdities of high school and our college plans. We gradually started calling each other less, as we moved on through college and got busy. Later, after we found each other on Facebook, we messaged each other from time to time. Even if it’d been a year since I’d last messaged her, Jessica always replied promptly and as though she couldn’t have been more excited to hear from me. She always made me feel like I was special to her.

I was unbelievably sad when I learned about her death, but I haven’t been surprised at all by the response to it or what I’ve read about her since then. I wasn’t surprised she was considered a rising star in her company, or that she was such a good friend to so many, or that she did so much for others.

We spent only seven days together, with a few dozen phone calls and a handful of Facebook messages in the years following that week, but I knew the same person everyone else knew. Someone warm, bright, generous and funny.

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


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


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.

Thanksgiving Eve 2008

Name: Nicole Schwarz

Location: Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Relationship to Jessica: Best friend

I met Jess in our 1st grade CCD class.

Kristen, Dana, Chrystie, Nicole, Kourtney, & Jessica at Palm Bar (the night Nicole & Greg met), November 2008

Nicole & Jessica at Nick Rossi's wedding, October 2010


I have one particular memory to share but before I do, I would like to express how blessed I am that Jessica was part of my life. We had so many amazing times together that I could fill books with all of our stories. We grew up playing town soccer and softball together and then, once we started having all the same classes in school, we just got closer and closer. She always inspired me to do my best because she was always so great at everything she did. She really was like a sister to me. Almost all of my memories from the last 15 years of my life have her in them. She even waited 2 months to celebrate her sweet 16, so we could have a joint party and celebrate our birthdays together. She was my best friend in the truest sense of the word.

My memory is from the night I met my fiance, Greg, which I fully attribute to Jessica. It was the night before Thanksgiving in 2008 and of course we have our “high school reunion” where we all get together to hang out. At the time, I worked at Rutgers University and had to stay that night to work a men’s basketball game. By the time I got home, it was late and I was tired. I wasn’t in the mood to go out. I told my mom I was thinking of staying home. Then my mom said, “Come on you have to go out. Jessica will be there and you haven’t seen her in a while. At least go for a little bit to see her!” She was right, I really wanted to see Jess, so I motivated myself and went out.

Mr. Fashano picked me up and Jessica and I went to meet our friends (who I also did want to see for the record)! A little while later, Jessica and I were talking to our friend Dave when this random guy came behind us, put his arms over both of our shoulders and asked, “Why are you talking to this guy?” I turned and saw Greg standing there, wondering who he was and if he actually knew Dave. We started talking (he explained he was Dave’s roommate) and talked the rest of the night…and now, 2 1/2 years later, we’re planning our wedding.

If it weren’t for Jessica, I would not have gone out that night and would never have met Greg. After Greg proposed, Jessica was the first person I called after my mom, sister and grandma. I know she can’t be at our wedding in person, but I know she will be looking down on us with that huge, unforgettable smile on her face. I will miss you forever Jess, I love you so much <3

Yellow Leather Limousine

Name: Billy Williams

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Relationship to Jessica: Close friend

I met Jessica in one of the many, many classes we took together during middle school. I’ll go with 6th grade math.

Jessica & Billy with their flour babies in high school


Jessica & Billy at Senior Prom


It took me quite a few years to realize that friendship isn’t easy. It requires an investment of time, energy, and heart that many struggle with – especially as physical distance grows and time passes. But with Jess and me it was always so easy.

My fondest memories with Jessica are from senior year at Whippany Park. Suddenly, the reality of college hit our friends. Everything we grew accustomed to was ending: Friendly’s trips, Livingston Mall/Applebee’s dinners, trips to the Parsippany movie theater. Sports, clubs, classes, pool parties. It was scary. So we made the most of our time together. And those last few months were some of the best of my life.

For whatever reason (bribes, rides to school) Jessica “said yes!” to going to senior prom with me. We both poured a lot of time into planning it, trying to make ours the best of all time. The location, the food, the music, the class gift. One of the few things Jess left in my hands was transportation – and wow, did she ever regret it!

We thought it would be cool to get a limo from NYC. They’d know exactly where to take us after prom! We reserved some cool wheels for the big event. Of course, we came home and showed the girls pictures of a cheesy Vegas-style yellow leather limo. They were mortified – especially Jess. Joke was on them!

The day finally arrived. We finished up pictures and waited for our limo. And waited…and waited…and waited. We were sweating. No one was happy. The driver was stuck in traffic (you HAD to go to NYC for this)?? We missed the cocktail hour. Finally it pulled up. Jess – excited to leave – opened the door. And it was the yellow leather limo. She cried. I was batting a thousand.

After these initial bumps, it turned out to be an amazing night. Jess was an effervescent, beautiful date. I was very lucky to have shared that memory with her. We had a blast.

Jess has played many roles in my life – high school prom date, college counselor, career counselor, math tutor, reality-checker. But above all, she was and will continue to be my inspiration.

We were truly blessed with a strong, caring group of friends in high school. As I went through college, it was evident that high school friendships – for the most part – fade away. But not ours; we wouldn’t let it. And Jess was an integral part of our group. There is no us without Jess. And we are fortunate enough to have each other for love and support during the good times…and, during the not so good.

Here’s to the times we shared, to the memories we made, and to an incredible woman that made those memories even better. Complete with cheesy “memory song” (which actually was released at the same time as our high school graduation) and scanned disposable camera pictures. Both of which would have Jessica bursting out in laughter.

Hopefully, somewhere up there, you can still hear Div whisper over a seventh grade three-way phone call “Billy loves Jessica…”

Hilarious Fashano Dinners

Name: Jeff Roth

Location: Denville, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Brother-in-law

I met Jessica in 2000 when I started dating Danielle. She was 17, and it was the summer before her junior year of high school.

Danielle, Jessica, & Jeff, Summer 2001


The summer I met Danielle, I was a little nervous about being introduced to Jessica because I was told she had tough standards for who should go out with her sister.  Fortunately, she took it easy on me and treated me with nothing but kindness from the start.  That fall, even though Danielle was studying in Spain, Jessica made sure that we had little party at the Fashano house on my birthday.  Having moved from Ohio after college, it was great to have a place in New Jersey where I felt at home.

My favorite memory is of all the times we sat around the dinner table, usually eating pasta with homemade “Italian gravy.”  Even when Jessica was in high school and studied non-stop, she would always come down to the kitchen to eat with her family.  Everyone who knew Jessica talks a lot about her laugh, but amplify that several times over and you have a typical Fashano dinner.  I can’t quite describe it but someone would say something funny, and Jessica would raise her arms and let her silverware plop to the table.  She would then bust out her classic laugh, but not before pausing for dramatic effect and getting this look on her face that would make everyone immediately start rolling with laughter.

It is in such times of laughter and joy that I miss Jessica most, thinking about what she would say and how she would react, and feeling a deep sense of regret that our happiest moments will be experienced without her.

My Left Side Is My Good Side

Name: Theresa Mazza

Location: Hoboken, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Best friend

Jessica and I met in the 6th grade at our school’s wilderness retreat. We were put into groups for lunch and she sat directly across from me. We instantly clicked. Later, when we were all asked to write about our favorite experience from the trip, Jess said hers was meeting me. We were best friends ever since.

Once in a Lifetime

For me, friendships like mine and Jessica’s only come once in lifetime. Sure, we all meet tons of great people who come into our lives, who we click with on various topics, interests and life experiences, but as we all know there is always that one friend that stands above the rest. It’s the friend you can always count on for a meaningful chat; the friend who is the only person to wish you a happy birthday (the day after); the friend you never have to pretend for, the friend who winks at you to acknowledge that they know exactly what you’re thinking and it’s that same friend you roll your eyes back at because they figured it out; it’s the friend that isn’t afraid to tell you you’re “OUT OF YOUR TREE,” and that skinny jeans really may not be most flattering on either of you, or that your eyebrows need waxing- yet again; it’s the friend you love unconditionally and the friend you can’t ever imagine living without. Jess, for me, was that friend. She’s like a once in lifetime cosmic event, never to repeat herself but rather to leave her spectacular, astoundingly beautiful, and monumental mark on the universe and more importantly on my life.

Theresa's first visit to see Jess at Georgetown, 2002


This picture is from my very first trip down to visit Jess at Georgetown in 2002. We both loved this picture so much, that we spent the next 8 years trying to replicate it, often fighting over who got the be on the left side, since it was both our “good side.”  I often had to remind her that in the original it was me!

My Jessbabes,

I miss you more than I could ever show you or tell you. I cherish every moment we ever spent together. Your smile, your laugh and your spirit are forever in my heart. I love you.



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.


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

A Childhood Friend

Name: Craig Vagell

Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Childhood friend

I’ve known Jessica since grade school.

Jessica, Craig, and Theresa on Halloween, 2008


Take 2


Jessica and I had a great time growing up together. I can remember the many times I would go over to the Fashano’s to play and hang out with her. She was always a great childhood friend of mine who accepted everyone.

I remember when she broke her arm way back when and I told my mom that I wanted to give her a get well gift. So I ordered her a bear with a broken arm with a hard cast on it and signed it and then brought it over to the house for her.

I will never forget the smile and laugh she gave when I did this. We had so many great memories together and I am thankful for being a part of her life.

A Sweet Memory

Name: Jen Bryson Palys

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

Relationship to Jessica: Friend of Danielle

I’ve been friends with Danielle growing up and have known the Fashano family since they moved to town.

Jessica en route to Danielle & Jeff's wedding, 10/17/04


As a childhood friend of Danielle’s, I knew Jessica from when she was very small. My last memory is a vivid one of Jessica at Danielle’s wedding. She was as beautiful and vivacious as ever. I remember thinking how sweet it was that she was so interested in my current life and wanted to know details. She truly cared about people and was truly cared for and that is one of the reasons she is missed so much!