When Kathy Kelly first met Fernando Ponce Jr.or "Junior," as his family and friends called himhe had just walked into her home "decked out in a sparkly pink jacket, dyed blond hair, and a perfect French manicure," said Kelly. He was also holding a baby goat.
The goatand with it, Poncestayed for the birthday party Kelly was hosting in her West Ridge home, and Kelly learned "right away that [Ponce] was extremely bright, extremely kind and a pointedly good-natured young man."
Ponce, 19, of the Belmont Cragin neighborhood, died on March 9 of complications resulting from leukemia.
He enjoyed makeup and fashion, and one day hoped to practice cosmetology professionally, said his brother, Ricky Rico, 21. Rico described his brother as humorous and energetic, and above all, confident and comfortable with who he was. Rico often spent time with Ponce, and when they did, he said, Ponce made sure to look his best.
Ponce first became ill in 2014, and during his time at Lurie Children's Hospital, he grew close to his doctors and nurses, said Rico. In addition to his interest in fashion, Ponce enjoyed painting and drawing, and listening to music. ( Rico said that one of his favorite singers was Nicki Minaj. )
In addition to Rico, Ponce is survived by his mother, father and sister.
"He was great," said Rico.