ForeverMissed
Alexander Ray Onders
September 21, 1995 - January 30, 2021
This site is intended to collect our thoughts and memories of Zander and his life. Please share stories, post photos, or leave a message to his family as a tribute.

A private funeral mass will be celebrated on Monday, February 22nd at 10 AM at St Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio with pandemic protocols in place. The livestream will be available for viewing at the church's website stjoanofarcchurch.org. Zander's final resting place will be South Russell Cemetery (Section 34 Lot A, by the flagpole)

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to:
  • The Jed Foundation - A nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation's teens and young adults
  • Cornerstone of Hope - Creating a world where no grieving person journeys alone
Posted by April Gagliardi on February 23, 2021
"Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room. I am I,
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other,
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well."
Posted by Joshua Dietrich on February 22, 2021
I was in school with Zander from 2nd grade up to high school, and got to be closest with him in middle school. Zander's faithful friendship was a major part of what got me through those awkward and difficult years, and I have fond memories of working with him on science projects and going on the 8th grade DC trip together.

I was blessed to have had such a faithful and caring friend as Zander. My deepest condolences to the Onders family. You are all in my prayers.
Posted by Catherine Cline on February 21, 2021
Zander was a bright and funny presence in our home when I was in middle and then high school, sarcastic in a fun way but also very kind. His presence always just felt right, I knew it would be a fun day when Zander was there. It feels as though he must still be out there somewhere, making someone laugh or lending a listening ear. The last time I saw him we hiked to the top of the ski lofts with Sam. Looking out from the top of the hill with them and admiring the sunset was a moment where I felt complete peace. I fell pretty hard after that on our off-the-path attempt to climb down, haha. Somehow neither of them laughed at me, which I appreciate, because it must have been pretty funny. I am and always will be grateful to have known you, Zander.
Posted by Doug R on February 21, 2021
Theres not just one story or moment that summarizes how special of a man Zander was. What comes to mind was his incredible ability to make everyone he met feel comfortable and relaxed. He always brought a smile to everyones face and was always the first one to lend a helping hand. The most important thing, was he helped me and countless others get through the difficult time that is High School. He was always true to himself and a man I admire and respect. My deepest condolences to the entire Onders family, if you need anything feel free to reach out.
Posted by Jasmeen Randhawa on February 18, 2021
I met Zander in high school and we became friends quickly through speech and debate. He was a fun, kind presence and always made the long Saturdays we spent at various tournaments so much more goofy. I considered him a close friend and he was an integral part of my high school experience. He always made people around him feel comfortable and welcome in his presence. I know he had deep love for his friends and family, and he will be missed by many people. To the Onders family, I am very sorry for your loss. I will miss him very much.
Posted by David Cleveland on February 18, 2021
I joined the "advanced" class in 4th grade, two years later than Zander and the rest of the class. I did a good job of alienating most people, but Zander was not deterred. He made me feel welcome, introduced me to his friends, and became one of my closest friends through those awkward middle school years.

One of my fondest memories of those years was going trick-or-treating with him and a few other friends. We spent the night in his basement playing board games and gambling with our candy. He ended up with all my Hershey's, I ended up with all his Runts. I think that means he won.

Zander was a steadfast and fun-loving friend, and I count myself lucky to be one of the people that knew him.
Posted by Maddy McCartin on February 18, 2021
Zander will always have a special place in my heart. Although I only lived in Ohio for a few years, I remember Zander as a good and loyal friend and I'm sorry that I never got the chance to reconnect with him.

Thinking back on those years, I remember Zander's love for fantasy, especially the Eragon series. He used to carry the book around as if it were a bible, only letting the most worthy people touch it. When one day I was allowed such a privilege, I knew that it meant something special. It was only years later that I read the books, after I had moved away, but I remembered his passion and felt as if I was still sharing that with him.

Zander was also one of my first crushes. I remember dedicating a heart-shaped mole on my arm to him a few years after being friends. Over the years, the chance of course arose to rededicate the mole to a new crush, but I never did. Even to this day, over 10 years later and many thousands of miles away, I look at that mole and remember him.
Posted by Katie Wilczewski on February 17, 2021
I met Zander through St Basil LifeTeen and was always happy to see him join us! He was closer in age to my sister, so I saw them and their friends spend a lot of time together and he always seemed like the undercover funny guy of the group. More importantly, Zander brought a radiance and peace to whomever was in his presence.
It has been many years since we’ve spoken, but I thought of Zander often and I’ve taught several students with the same first name and I think it is probably my favorite of the unique names I come across as a teacher.
Your spirit and light will be greatly missed, Zander. I hope that you are watching over those whom you love most and keep all who knew you in your prayers. You are so loved.
Posted by Aaron Markowitz on February 17, 2021
I'm heartbroken to hear this news. Zander and I were debate partners in high school, and I had a lot of fun with him sparring at practice or taking on the prep school kids most Saturdays. I've slowed down a lot since, and sort of shake my head at how much unearned pretension some of the debaters had (myself included). Zander wasn't like that. He could make good use of swagger and was funny and sharp, but he wouldn't be a jerk about it.

When we had practice at his house, I was impressed by how much his younger siblings seemed to adore him. I'll bet he was a really loving dad.

My condolences to his family, and thanks for sharing Zander with us. I still respect how much he gave to others, the ways he was mature beyond his years. I was lucky to have such a kind friend, and wish him peace.
Posted by Jennie Dollard on February 17, 2021
My heart is aching for you, Mark and Autumn, and for your entire family! Our family met Zander from the neighborhood - my kids thought he had the coolest name ever! (They hadn't realized it was a nickname.) I remember him as quiet, with a sweet smile, and had the impression that he felt very deeply. Praying for Zander, for your family and his friends!
Posted by Maureen Meserko on February 15, 2021
I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to Zander’s precious family... and friends. ❤️ My prayers are with you during this most difficult time.  I was so very sorry to hear of Zander’s passing. What a very precious and fine young man he was. I have such fond memories of attending his Grandma Susan and Grandpa David Metro’s Christmas Eve celebrations throughout the years...and every year Zander would make a craft project for the guests. I so enjoyed receiving them. One of my favorites..... the wine rings he made for the stems of our wine glasses. He was so inventive and so very thoughtful. Always embracing us with his beautiful smile! It was fun seeing how much he had grown each year and hearing all of the wonderful stories his Grandma Susan would tell me of all their precious time spent together. A very special moment was seeing Zander a few years ago...all grown up... at the annual Christmas Eve celebration.....It was great getting to talk with him and to catch up.....and meeting his beautiful son Brysen. How very proud he was of being a dad! I had my picture taken with Brysen sitting on my lap. It was a very special evening that I will treasure and keep close to my heart........always. ❤️❤️
Posted by Amanda Schuster on February 13, 2021
Mark, Autumn and family- I am so sorry to hear of Zander’s passing. I knew him as a passionate, sweet, humble and kind person. He worked high ropes at camp: I felt that he was trustworthy in a role where the safety of the kids was critical and he was also so supportive of them when they were doing something really scary.
He was a hard worker and had a great work ethic. He was well-liked and respected by his peers.
I am thankful that I got the chance to know him a little better through interviewing him, hiring him, and supervising him and wish we had stayed connected. My heart is absolutely crushed by his passing.
Posted by Juline McDaniel on February 13, 2021
With deepest sympathy as you remember Zander. Healing thoughts and prayers for the entire Onders family.
Posted by Bryan Clare on February 12, 2021
Mark and family - My heart broke when I heard this news. My deepest condolences to you all. God bless.
Posted by Christopher Kalan on February 11, 2021
My heart just sank when I heard this news. My deepest condolences go out to the Onders family. I will be praying for you tonight.
Posted by Mike Kresic on February 11, 2021
My deepest condolences to the entire Onders family on this sudden and tragic loss. My prayers go out to Zander so that he may find peace in Heaven and prayers, strength and love to his family during this difficult time.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by April Gagliardi on February 23, 2021
"Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room. I am I,
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other,
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well."
Posted by Joshua Dietrich on February 22, 2021
I was in school with Zander from 2nd grade up to high school, and got to be closest with him in middle school. Zander's faithful friendship was a major part of what got me through those awkward and difficult years, and I have fond memories of working with him on science projects and going on the 8th grade DC trip together.

I was blessed to have had such a faithful and caring friend as Zander. My deepest condolences to the Onders family. You are all in my prayers.
Posted by Catherine Cline on February 21, 2021
Zander was a bright and funny presence in our home when I was in middle and then high school, sarcastic in a fun way but also very kind. His presence always just felt right, I knew it would be a fun day when Zander was there. It feels as though he must still be out there somewhere, making someone laugh or lending a listening ear. The last time I saw him we hiked to the top of the ski lofts with Sam. Looking out from the top of the hill with them and admiring the sunset was a moment where I felt complete peace. I fell pretty hard after that on our off-the-path attempt to climb down, haha. Somehow neither of them laughed at me, which I appreciate, because it must have been pretty funny. I am and always will be grateful to have known you, Zander.
his Life
Alexander Ray Metro was born on Sept 21, 1995 to Autumn. She married Mark Onders who adopted Zander into the large Onders clan. Zander's family grew to include 4 siblings - Xavier, Eli, Cassie, and Toby. Zander rejoiced over the birth of his son Brysen. Zander will always be remembered as a loving son, brother, and father. May he rest in eternal peace.
Recent stories
Shared by Shannon Onders on February 22, 2021
Whether it was Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, sitting with Zander at the holidays for meals was always a pleasure. He always had fun stories to share and never failed to ask about everyone else’s lives. As Molly mentioned, Zander was involved in lifeteen at St. Basil and was a great role model for us to follow. I was lucky enough to walk into lifeteen and be recognized as Zander’s cousin after he had graduated high school and had moved on, as his legacy in the program was not forgotten because people had loved him so much. Other memories with Zander include the times where Molly and I would babysit his siblings while his parents were out, and he was working. When he would get home before his parents, he never rushed us out, but instead sat down and chatted with us for awhile while his siblings were fast asleep. Zander was a great role model for me, and many other people and his kindness will never be forgotten. Thank you, Zander, for the conversations and laughs shared with me and many others throughout your life.
Shared by Aaron Muttillo on February 22, 2021
When I was in graduate school training to be a school psychologist, I needed to practice giving tests. Of course, I recruited Z because he was up for anything. I believe he was about 7 when I gave him an IQ test. I remember that I had to record the assessment and submit it for a grade, which raised the stakes a bit. I was poorly prepared and kept screwing up the different subtests. Z was so entertained by my mishaps, he would just laugh at me and patiently wait for me to rewind the tape and start over. It probably took us about 3 hours to complete the test, because I was terrible as an assessor and he was super smart. As is the case with most of these tests, the more questions you answer correctly, the more questions I ask. I only studied the first parts of each subtest, so since he kept getting everything right I was always in unchartered territory as a new assessor. I remember thinking, “damn it please get this wrong so we can stop “. Z was just enjoying the experience - dominating this test and watching his uncle flail around like an idiot. Z taught me a couple of lessons that day, be prepared before you start administering a test and stay away from the gifted kids because they’ll make you look stupid! Love you, Z.

A Natural with Kids

Shared by Aaron Muttillo on February 22, 2021
    When Zander was born I became an uncle for the first time. When he learned to talk and started calling me “Uncle Aaron”, I thought it was the coolest thing. Reading Harry Potter to him was always an adventure, as I would change all names of the characters (e.g., “Dumbledork”) to mess with him. He would just politely correct me as he was unfazed by my nonsense. Zander was the easiest kid to babysit for because he was so helpful and genuinely fun to be around. 
    Zander was always a very accepting, non-judgmental person. I don’t ever recall feeling anxious or awkward with him, everything was always comfortable.  His calming presence made him a natural for working with kids. Z worked as a counselor at Camp Christopher and later helped my family out when we needed childcare for one of my children.  
   Zander was only 18 (same age as I was when he was born) when he provided childcare for his cousin, Quentin. We needed him to drive from Brecksville to Lakewood to pick up his 4-year-old cousin from preschool and then take him home to our house in Cleveland and watch him until Emily or I got home with our other two kids.  This was a lot to ask anyone, particularly an 18 year old. I know that when I was that age, I wouldn’t have been able to even figure out the car seat. Not only was there never a problem, he seemed very matter of fact with the whole arrangement. When we frantically arrived home, he would just smile, shrug his shoulders, and tell us everything’s cool. Here I was “Uncle Aaron” struggling to figure out family life and my young nephew was the reliable presence that we needed at just the right time. It was a gift to my family that we’ll never forget. Love you, Z.