Tricia Potter said she and Ulrich lived in the same neighborhood growing up and got to be great friends before they graduated together from Smithsburg High School in 1989.
“He was just an all-around great guy,” said Potter, who now lives in Hagerstown. “If you ever needed something or needed cheered up or needed to put a smile on your face, you could go to Alex and he was the man to do that for you.”
Potter said she heard about Ulrich’s passing on Sunday morning on Facebook, in the newspaper and from friends.
“It was just shocking,” she said. “I don’t think still it’s hit me yet that he’s not here.”
Holly Fleger of Smithsburg organized Wednesday’s vigil, one day after hundreds gathered for a similar ceremony in Ulrich’s Baltimore neighborhood, where he recently had moved.
Fleger got a little choked up and teary-eyed talking about her close friend and former classmate.
“I just knew in my heart that I needed to honor Alex somehow,” she said. “We were such close friends in high school.”
Fleger said Ulrich was the kind of person who would do “anything for anybody at any time,” and he was truly what everyone should hope that they could be as a person.
“He touched so many lives, and I figured I needed to provide that opportunity here as well,” she said.
“Alex just lit up everybody’s life, and I wish there was some way to tell him (about) the mark he’s left on the world. I just hope he knows that and how many people he has touched.”
Ulrich was born in Baltimore before his family moved and settled in Smithsburg. While at Smithsburg, he was active in theater and got involved with the Washington County Playhouse after graduation. He later attended Salisbury University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in theater, James Ulrich said.
Alex, who was always careful and cautious in his surroundings, recently had moved to Baltimore to pursue a career in photography when his life was taken so abruptly, his brother said.
“We just don’t want this to happen to another family,” he said.