Friends, family members and passers-by came together to light a candle, say a prayer and share their memories of Ralph Bell, who police say was murdered just over one week ago.
Steve Anzano said Bell was like a brother to him. "Tonight is meant to let people see the light that he had. Every time you saw Ralph he was laughing. That was his thing."
The memorial service for 54-year-old Bell was held Wednesday night. His mother said there were nearly 200 people in attendance.
Maggie Bell said, "Last night I had so many strangers come up and hug me and kiss me."
Maggie Bell called her son by his nickname, "Mickie." She said she was touched to see how many people loved him.
"I'll bet there were 10 kids who told me the same story how they met my son," she said.
Bell said her son would take in homeless teens struggling with alcohol addiction at the Turning Point Center in Burlington.
"Mickie took a shine to him. He said to the kid when the meeting got done, where do you live? The kid said he had no home. So Mickie said, well, you do now. You are coming home with me."
Thursday night's event held at the foot of Bell's apartment building in Burlington's North End focused on the positive.
Bell's longtime friend, Michael Valente, said, "A lot of tears were shed last night at the service. It is time to remember. We were just joking about how the candles keep blowing out because he would have done that."
Ralph's neighbors describe him as a socialite, saying he was always out visiting friends, but they waited at this window every night for him to come home. They say since he has been gone, it has been a lonely view.
Family members handed out flowers given to the family for funeral service, as well as pictures reminding everyone of Ralph's smile.
Ralph's sister-in-law, Leslie Bell, said, "Since he was famous for wearing his white T-shirts, I made these pictures up. It is such a reflection of how he was."
"He was so well liked. It makes a mother's heart go out to everyone he touched," Maggie Bell said.
Maggie Bell says it was a perfect evening the only thing missing, was him.
Ralph Bell's 25-year-old secret lover Daniel Whalon is currently facing charges of second-degree murder for the alleged fatal stabbing. He has not entered a plea and a judge ordered him to go to the Vermont State Hospital for an in-patient mental health evaluation. Whalon is being held without bail.
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