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Waterford - When Joshua Eudy was about 10, he and his best friend hatched a plan to tie their bicycles together with a 20-foot tow rope. They could only go so fast on their own, the rationale went, but together they would be able to go twice as fast. Similar schemes followed as the boys grew up.
"We used to have this reputation for jumping off of high places ... when I think back, I remember that we both made the plan, we both climbed, but I was the only one who jumped," said Eudy's lifelong best friend, Jeff Brewer. "He was always smarter than me in that way."
Brewer was one of the speakers Monday afternoon as hundreds of people filled the Waterford High School's auditorium to remember Eudy who died Christmas Day after a battle with colon cancer. Eudy, 35, had taught history and social studies at the school for 10 years.
Born May 8, 1978, in New London, he was raised in Gales Ferry. After graduating from Ledyard High School, Eudy attended the University of Connecticut where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in history and later earned a master's degree in education.
Outside of the classroom, Eudy coached the girls' volleyball team at Waterford High and continued to play the sport himself. He was an active member of his church, and also enjoyed traveling with his wife, Rena, and riding his motorcycle.
This summer, new Principal Andre Hauser worked closely with Eudy and other teachers to update the high school's social studies curriculum. Hauser described Eudy as "an intelligent, incredibly thoughtful," man.
"When he spoke, people listened," he said.
Earlier this month, about two months after Eudy received his diagnosis, Waterford High students made a video to show support for their teacher and coach. In the video, the students - all wearing green T-shirts bearing the words "Stay Strong. Eudy Nation." - created a 55-yard wide "EUDY" on the school's football field and shared some favorite stories about the man.
"There is an incredible loyalty and fondness for him among the students who had him as a teacher and the student-athletes who played for him. The kids adored him," Hauser said. "I think to get that kind of support from kids is a tribute to who he was a teacher and as a person."
Waterford High social studies teacher Chris Gamble, who was on the hiring committee when Eudy applied to work at Waterford High and later became a close friend, said Eudy was special because he always chose "the difficult right over the easy wrong."
"Josh had the uncanny ability to leave those around him better off than they were before. In his wake he left better students, better athletes, better teammates and better people," Brewer said. "In a world of the immediate; of likes and pins and tweets and snap chats, in a world of politicking and showmanship, Josh was authentic."
In addition to his wife, Eudy leaves his parents, Steve and Gita Eudy of Ledyard, his sister, Liz Eudy of Ledyard, his in-laws Tom and Ingrid Burbey of Virginia, a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law.
"Even if we can't understand the meaning of his death, we at least can say with certainty that his life meant a great deal," Gamble said. "Because he was in my life, I am a better person. If you knew him, so are you."