ST. LOUIS COUNTY — It's a celebration nobody wanted to throw.
Thursday night, Alex Marley was remembered by family and friends at Andre’s Catering. One week earlier, Marley was shot and killed outside a south county Walmart.
The kitchen at Andre's south was buzzing Thursday afternoon.
“Just wrapping up the beef right now,” said chef Jesse Cooper. “We've got about 200 pounds to do today.”
For Cooper, it's routine work. But Thursday was anything but a routine day.
“It's a good distraction at this time,” he said.
For the last six years, Cooper worked side-by-side with Alex Marley.
“Just, everything about him was amazing,” he said.
And for the last week, Cooper's thought of little else than his friend.
“Work is all I really do to keep him off my mind,” he said.
For the team at Andre’s, being back in the kitchen is cathartic. But reminders of Marley seem to be everywhere.
“Just such a positive force, you know? I'm still in shock over this,” said coworker Cid Strickland.
Cooper's holding onto the happier memories.
“He would always have the right song to play at the right moment. We'd all be having a hard day or something and he'd put a song on there that would make everything alright and be perfect,” he said.
Workers at Andre’s call themselves a family. And they wear the family crest over their hearts. Hearts that are full of sadness.
“I'm gonna miss him,” said Cooper.
But hearts that smiled Thursday night over one last meal, to say goodbye to a beloved friend.
“He wouldn't want us to mourn,” said Cooper. “He'd want us to celebrate and just remember him.”
Alex Marley was also a hiker. His friends are organizing a memorial hike to his favorite mountain top in southern Missouri where they'll place a plaque in Marley's honor.
Marley’s mom told 5 On Your Side his ashes will be spread at his grandparent's property.