John B. “J.J.” Stinson was named “everyone’s best friend” in his high school yearbook.
He was also voted “most likely to brighten your day,” but since he had to pick one, he decided to be everyone’s best friend.
Those close to him say he had an indescribable ability to bring people from different walks of life together and make them feel welcome. His outgoing character and genuine kindness leaves a hole in the heart of the Virginia Tech community.
Stinson died of unknown causes earlier this week while studying abroad with the Presidential Global Scholars program at the Riva San Vitale in Switzerland. He was a second year student and academic junior studying philosophy.
Since kindergarten, Nikki Weinard has always seen Stinson with a smile, and never sad. In his time at St. Louis Catholic School and Bishop Ireton High School, all he wanted to do was make everyone feel welcome.
“He was the kind of person that just wanted to include everybody,” Weinard said, who now attends James Madison University.
His high school hobby was theater, and he worked hard to bring the student body into that friend group.
“He brought people in and he brought non-theater people in, which was a really big deal,” she said. “People from all parts of the school — sports kids, the really smart nerdy kids, he would bring them not necessarily into the club, but into the theater community,” she said. “He was just this fun-loving guy. When I think of the drama club I think of him because he brought everyone together.”
He was the president of his high school’s International Thespian Society and drama club, and earned a prestigious award from the international organization. According to Weinard, he is one of only a few Bishop Ireton students to win the award.
His love of drama developed in middle school when he participated in a Shakespeare class at St. Louis. In 8th grade, he had one of the leading roles in his class’s production. When he came to high school, he immediately became involved with the theater department and performed for all four years.
As president of the two organizations, his leadership skills did not go unnoticed.