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Son, Brother and Friend Missed

Friends, family mourn death of Scott Harley, 19.

"If there was any one goal in his life, it was to have fun. And to be around people that he cared about and that cared about him," said Kenny Rubenstein, of his grade-school friend, Scott Harley of Springfield.

Harley's friends and family said they will remember the 19-year old as a fun-loving, outgoing young man with a passion for music and sports.

Harley began attending West Virginia University this fall and had already made his presence known. "I think within the first couple of days, he knew everybody on his floor," said father Bill Harley, who added that his son and a few others had already started an intramural flag football team for his dorm. "They were playing some of that football in the hallways, of course."

On Sept. 29, Scott Harley was found dead in a creek in Morgantown, W.Va., where the university is located. He appeared to have been injured by a fall, and police do not suspect foul play. Seating at Harley's funeral, which took place Saturday, Oct. 7 at Grace Presbyterian Church in Springfield, was standing-room-only.

Bill Harley said his son had chosen the university not only for its campus, but also because he loved being near the mountains and loved "the big-time, division-one sports."

SCOTT HARLEY'S BROTHER Billy, 20, said the two of them began playing hockey — which Scott Harley played for all of his four years at West Springfield High School — in elementary school. "I think what turned us both on about it was the speed," he said. He noted that his brother "was always a thrill seeker. He had all kinds of crazy ideas."

Billy Harley remembered his brother gathering him, their two step-sisters and some flashlights and driving out to the woods one night to play on a rope swing suspended over a 15-foot drop. "He just said, 'This is what we're going to do.' And we did it," said Billy Harley.

He added that his brother was also an avid Ultimate Frisbee player and loved playing guitar. "He was a very passionate person, in terms of his music, his beliefs and his friends," he said, adding that Scott Harley had made many friends in high school, "and he was really true to all of them."

Rubenstein had not seen as much of Scott Harley in high school, and he remembered a boy who was more interested in soccer and baseball than hockey, although he said he had also played his share of football and basketball with his grade-school friend, the latter both inside and outside the house. "He was one of the funniest guys I ever knew," Rubenstein said.

He recalled Scott Harley hiding in a tree on Halloween, waiting to leap on other trick-or-treaters, and on another occasion sledding directly into a tree but refusing medical attention after Rubenstein's father had called 911. "He wanted to keep having fun."

More recently, Rubenstein said, he heard a story from a girl who met Scott Harley at a barbecue. She had moved from Germany not long before, and Scott "just came over and started talking to her because she looked lonely. That's just the kind of guy Scott was," said Rubenstein.

He noted that the band One-Eyed Buddy, in which Scott Harley had played guitar, was named for one of Scott's dogs, who had gotten into a tussle with the other dog one day. "Apparently, Buddy was the aggressor," said Rubenstein. Buddy, by far the smaller of the two, had lost an eye in the altercation. "It's sad, but it's pretty funny," Rubenstein said.

HARLEY'S AUNT, Jill Harley, said her nephew was also heavily involved in the jazz band and guitar ensemble at West Springfield. She said his interests had followed his talents. "With music, it really brought out his creative side," she said. "With sports, I think he was naturally athletic." She added that he was not only a practitioner, but was also a fan of music and sports and particularly of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

In person, she said, "he was kind. He was generous, loving, funny."

Scott Harley's great-great uncle, Charles "Chic" Harley, had been the first All-American football player from Ohio State, Bill Harley noted. Hence, his son's allegiance. The school's stadium is still known as "the house that Harley built."

Scott Harley's cousins, Kit, Jen and Rob Harley, said they had considered him almost as a younger brother, partly because they nearly shared a father: their fathers are identical twins. "When he told stories about his dad, it was instantly recognizable," said Kit Harley, noting that Scott also did a humorous impression of their fathers.

"We could almost finish his sentences," said Jen Harley.

However, Rob Harley noted, "he was really appreciative of the way his dad and our dad are."

Jen Harley added that she and her brothers had referred to him as "Scoot" — which was almost like calling him Scott, but cuter — and that, when he was little, he was known to run to the television and kiss the screen when the show "Duck Tales" began. Harley was the youngest of the five cousins, she said, "so we had a lot of fun with him."

"He made friends so easily," said Karen Moomey, another aunt, who described Scott Harley as "instantly likable."

"I think he just put other people at ease," she said, citing his sense of humor, non-judgmental nature and positive disposition.

Scott Harley's grandmother, Kay Moomey, helped care for him and his brother after their mother died of breast cancer in 1998. "The boys had a hard time with that," she said. "But they had each other. They were close in age."

She remembered when Scott Harley stood on the pitcher's mound during a Little League game, with the bases loaded and the score tied in the ninth inning. He both pitched the batter out and learned a life lesson: when he came off the field, he told his father, "Now I know what you mean by stress," she said.

SOME ALSO REMEMBERED a side of Scott Harley that not everyone saw. "He was fun-loving, but he was also a deep thinker," said Bill Harley. "He wanted to learn." He said his son did not find importance in all of his classes at West Springfield but enjoyed subjects like psychology, biology and history. "He watched the History Channel all the time," he added. In college, he said, his son had found a new interest in a philosophy class.

"That was by far his favorite class he was taking," said Billy Harley. "When I talked to him, he always revealed more to me than he did anyone else. That's when he was really philosophical."

"He wasn't afraid to speak what he felt was right," said Rubenstein. "That's got to be the most impressive aspect of him." Rubenstein recalled an instance when he had laughed at Billy Harley, who was not present at the time. Scott Harley had cut him short and informed him that it was not a laughing matter, he said. "From that point on, I knew, he means business."