“Above all, Alex cared about how other people felt more than himself,” Chris Stilwell says. “If you were one of his friends, you knew it, because he would sacrifice a lot to come through for you or help you out when you needed him.”
Two weeks before classes started, Alex Mullins took his life shortly after returning to Kirksville.
Mullins graduated from North Kansas City High School with an International Baccalaureate Diploma during 2014, and was a junior business major at Truman State University and a member of Alpha Kappa Lambda.
Melissa Bottorff, Mullins’ mother, says Mullins was a sociable, gregarious person who was kind-hearted and cared deeply for those around him.
Bottorff says Mullins danced and sang his way through life. She says he was much like Finn from the hit TV show “Glee” in the sense that he was an athlete, but he wanted everyone to feel included.
“He just walked up to people and talked to them and made friends with them,” Bottorff says.
Though Mullins’ outgoing personality was something everyone knew and loved about him, Bottorff says a lot of people have told her what they will miss most about Mullins was that he gave the best hugs. Bottorff says Mullins’ hugs were genuine and people knew he cared for them.
Bottorff says her realization of how much he cared about others occurred when he was younger.
“He was probably in elementary or middle school and I said, ‘He is one of the best people with one of the biggest hearts,’” Bottorff says. “He just was one of the most genuine-hearted people. And he never lost that piece [of himself].”
Bottorff says Mullins was a joker, who often told one-liners that only half made sense to those around him, but still made everyone laugh. She says he danced to the beat of his own drum and he would have random outbursts to express his joy and other feelings — that is just who he was.
Despite his crazy times, Bottorff says Mullins had a strong work ethic and was committed to the organizations he was involved with.
Nicolette Popa, Mullins’ close friend, says his dedication, particularly to those around him, was part of what made him so lovable.
“Through all walks of life, he was always there to help out and be there for anyone he knew and would go out of his way to make sure you were happy,” Popa says.
Popa says she met Mullins when they were in seventh grade, and the day they met he was instantly her best friend. She says from then on, she was able to watch him grow as a person and as a friend.
Popa says despite going to separate high schools, their friendship remained strong and intact.
“It doesn’t matter if it was him telling a stupid joke that made you laugh so hard you cried, or you were crying because he let out a really bad fart that smelled terrible,” Popa says. “Either way, you couldn’t be around him for five minutes without laughing.”
Popa says after graduation, she got married and he went to college, but he was still a great support to her — particularly on her wedding day. She says Mullins was able to keep her nerves down and her spirits up. Mullins was also an escort in Popa’s wedding, she says.
Popa says Mullins loved everyone around him, and everyone around him loved Mullins.
“Alex was, and has always been, the most genuine guy I know,” Popa says. “Alex was genuine, he was intelligent and he was my best friend.”
Junior Chris Stilwell says he met Mullins during high school through annoying their chemistry teacher, and since then they had been friends and attended Truman together.
Stilwell also says he felt that Mullins had a sincere personality, but Mullins also always made people laugh and you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth.
Mullins had recently attended a friend’s wedding when he decided to get everyone there out onto the dance floor because he loved to dance, Stilwell says.
“[Mullins] decided he would go out to the middle and dance to get people excited — so, he was out there and he ended up doing the splits and people went crazy,” Stilwell says. “He was telling me this all while he was limping. Then he says, ‘It went so well the first time. I figured I should do it again — I shouldn’t have, I definitely pulled something.’”
Stilwell says after finishing his story, Mullins pulled up his shorts and his thigh was heavily bruised dark purple and black. Stilwell says despite limping, Mullins just smiled and said he was just happy he got everyone up and dancing.
“He made people laugh and feel better,” Stilwell says. “He never showed any sort of sadness himself because he always made sure to make others feel more positive when he was around them.”
This appeared in the Sept. 29 issue of the Index.