Columbus Park employee Cata Truss and her husband, Dwayne, a longtime organizer and supporter of youth baseball and football through the Austin Youth League, celebrated the graduation of their son Allen Rasberry on Saturday, April 29 in Tallahassee, Fla. The Florida A&M University computer information systems major was excited and happy, ready to begin his career. He even had a job offer in Atlanta.

The following morning the celebration turned to mourning. Allen, 24, was dead, the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Tallahassee, Fla. According to printed reports in the Tallahassee Democrat, Rasberry and one of his friends, Keith Savoy, 29, were walking east on Old St. Augustine Road around 3:45 a.m. near the Dacron Drive intersection. Rasberry was on the right side of the road when he was hit from behind by a vehicle that drove away from the scene.

Rasberry, Savoy and Caleb Par were all close friends and all computer-information majors, who were excited about graduating and they were ready for their new life. “He could tell the funniest jokes that would make you laugh so hard,” Savoy said in a press report. Par said, “He made life better; he was always happy. You couldn’t be sad around him.”

Rasberry was very happy and excited about his job. He was to start this summer with Hewitt & Associates in Atlanta, Ga., as a programmer. “He did one interview, and got the job like it was nothing,” another friend, Lascelles Les, was quoted saying. “He was walking around showing us his $54,000 contract.

One of Rasberry’s professors and mentor, Jason Black told reporters, “He had become a B student. He lost some people in his family, but he was really getting it back together. I coached an intramural basketball team for the [computer information systems] department, and everybody on the team loved him.”

Press reports said an arrest is expected in hit-and-run death. According to an article in the Democrat, the Tallahassee Police Department expects to charge a person in connection with the hit-and-run crash, Sgt. Steve Gauding of the traffic-homicide unit said Tuesday. Allen Rasberry, 24, was hit by a truck that left the scene on Old St. Augustine Road early Sunday morning. Rasberry had graduated Saturday.

On Monday, a driver tried to get a Chevrolet truck repaired in Cairo, Ga., and the auto-body technicians at the shop who had heard about the story called authorities. Officers were working with the State’s Attorney’s Office and examining evidence on Tuesday, Gauding said.

Cata Truss told the Democrat, “I have no ill will. I realize it was an accident. There was no malice. So my heart goes out to [the driver] as well. If you’ve taken someone else’s life, you’re hurting as much as we are.”

Rasberry was the Truss’ oldest son (he has five brothers). He also had a 5-year-old daughter who lives in Chicago. He graduated from Simeon Career Academy, where he was a star athlete. But he reportedly quit football at Florida A&M in his sophomore year in order to focus on his studies.

The couple heard the news while they were still in Florida and got together with classmates later that day at a friend’s house.

“Just hearing them talk about him?”I needed that so much,” Cata told the Democrat. “He was a great kid, but the group of them together was like a nucleus. One didn’t function without the other. I’m so glad they allowed me to share that with them.

“It’s so hard because to celebrate one of the most important days of his life only to turn around and lose him … That’s the hard part.”

The funeral arrangements are:

Public viewing: Friday, May 6, 1-8 p.m., Smith & Thomas Funeral Home, 5708 W. Madison, 773/261-1000.

Wake: Saturday, May 7, 9:30-10:30 a.m., St. Paul Lutheran Church (corner of Menard & Iowa), 855 North Menard Ave.

Funeral: 10:45 a.m.