2017-12-07 / Local News

Leland student recalled as being a ‘sensitive soul’


FRIENDS AT the Leelanau School created a memorial for their friend Josef Sisco who died Monday at home. He was 16. FRIENDS AT the Leelanau School created a memorial for their friend Josef Sisco who died Monday at home. He was 16. School communities in Leland and Glen Arbor are grieving after the death of a student who had attended classes at both schools.

Josef Sisco, a sophomore at Leland Public School, died Monday evening at his home in Lake Leelanau.

He was 16.

“Our hearts go out to his family and his friends at school,” said Sheriff Mike Borkovich, who confirmed the death as a suicide. “There’s not a lot I can say other than I’m praying for everyone’s well being.”

Students were told about the death in two assemblies Tuesday — one for grades 7 and 8 and a second for grades 9 through 12.

“Our staff was available throughout the day to support them,” Leland Superintendent Jason Stowe said.

Sisco attended the Leelanau Children’s Center then Leland Public School through fifth grade. He then transferred to the Greenspire School in Traverse City and then to the Leelanau School in Glen Arbor before returning to Leland about seven weeks ago.

“He was truly a sensitive soul at a level that can be really hard for even adults to live with,” said longtime family friend Tricia Denton. “Josef had a gracefulness about him and showed me that I was OK being who I am.

“I wish I could have given him the gift of perspective that comes with age.”

Staff members from Michael’s Place were at Leland School yesterday to provide support to those grieving the passing of Sisco, who has a 5-year-old brother, Rainer, attending kindergarten at Leland.

Meanwhile, the young man’s former school mates at the Leelanau School, were also grieving and built an impromptu memorial to their friend.

A GoFundMe campaign to support Sisco’s mother, Tracy Smedes-Hepler, stepfather Zack Johnson and father Jay Sisco, raised $15,829 in a single day.

A goal of $25,000 is set to help cover funeral expenses and related costs.

Donations can be made at https:// www.gofundme.com/support-for-tracy-and-zach.

There will be a viewing Saturday afternoon at LifeStory funeral home in Traverse City. An exact time was not available by press time yesterday.

“It will be a an informal opportunity for anyone who feels in necessary for closure,” Denton said.

A celebration of Sisco’s life will be held at a later date.

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