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Wayne Post
  • Wit, intensity marked Pal-Mac grad

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  • MACEDON — The community continues to mourn the loss of a 2013 Palmyra-Macedon graduate killed over the weekend in a Manchester car crash. Justin Rifenberg, 17, of 22 Olympus Drive in Macedon, died Saturday night, Sept. 19, from injuries sustained in a three-car crash on Route 21 and Johnson Road.
    Known to friends, family and teammates as strong-minded, intelligent, sharp-witted, intense, smart, kind-hearted, and great with children, Justin was a member of the National Honor Society, participated on the wrestling team and earned a NYS Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation in June from Palmyra–Macedon High School.
    “I would describe Justin as a quiet, extremely intelligent young man especially when it came to computers or numbers,” said Pal–Mac High School wrestling coach Brian Quick. “To his teammates and his close friends he was simply ‘Justin’ or ‘Riff,’ a guy who could lighten up the mood with his quick wit.”
    When focused on the mat, Quick said, Justin was intense and tough. And as the younger brother of a very accomplished wrestler, he set his sights on winning sectionals during his senior year.
    “He put his heart and soul into every match — he was intense and very focused,” said Quick. “He gave (his opponent) his most difficult match in an epic semi-final battle. ‘Two stray dogs fighting over a bone in an alley’ — that would best describe the determination of both wrestlers.”
    Unfortunately, Quick said, Justin lost the match, but his determination never wavered.
    “So many times you see wrestlers ‘pack up the tent,’ so to speak, after a difficult and disappointing loss,” said Quick. “Justin gathered himself up, refocused himself, and stormed back through the tournament by his teammates’ sides to take third place.”
    In a statement following Justin’s death, Palmyra-Macedon High School Principal Andrew Wahl said counselors would be available throughout the week at Palmyra–Macedon High School to care for those who may need assistance.
    “We are saddened by the loss of Justin Rifenberg, and wish to express our condolences to Justin’s family during this difficult time,” Wahl said.
    In just two days, more than 1,250 friends, community members and family members have visited a Facebook page — www.facebook.com/inmemoryofjustinrifenberg — which pays tribute to Justin’s life and memory. On the page, friends and relatives describe him as a talented student with an impressive knowledge of computers and computer games.
    John Charles Javorowsky said in his tribute on the page to Justin that “you not only understood technology, but made it into your playground. From being an Xbox nerd, to being a genius with computers, you had potential to grow up and make something out of that. You weren't going to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer, you were going to turn a love for competitive video games and the technology that enables them into not only a career, but a franchise, a legacy.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “Justin and his family have given so much of themselves to the sport of wrestling and the wrestlers at Pal-Mac,” said Quick. “Our hearts and prayers are with them as they go through this very difficult time.”
    Calling hours are scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, from 2-8 p.m. at Cross Creek Church, 3700 Route 31, Palmyra. A service is set for 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, also at Cross Creek Church. Interment will take place at St. Anne's Cemetery on Howell Street immediately following the service.
    — Includes reporting by Julie Sherwood and Steve Buchiere

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