Remembering Michael Gatto

Nadia Dreid

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This past Thursday, Georgia Southern University student Michael Gatto passed away after sustaining severe head injuries at Rude Rudy’s.

The suspect, Grant Spencer, is in police custody and has officially been charged with aggravated battery.

Gatto, an 18 year old freshman, was a native of Forsyth County and graduated this past May from South Forsyth High School.

“…he’d make me smile, no matter what.”

Above all, Michael Gatto loved to be surrounded by people – and people loved to be around Michael Gatto.

“He had to be around people – he could never be by himself,” Matthew Cira, Gatto’s childhood friend and fellow freshman, said . “He would walk into a room and he would talk to everybody.”

People were drawn to Gatto, Mackenzie Heber, Gatto’s neighbor from middle school to college, said.

“I could totally be myself with him because he made me feel that way,” Heber said. “He would make everyone feel that way. He was never sad, he was never mad. He was always happy.”

Not only was Gatto happy – he made others happy as well, Heber said.

“I would just say ‘Michael, I’m sad’ and he would come over to my house and bring me Oreos,” Heber said. “And sit there with me and eat them and he’d make me smile, no matter what.”

“He was the most outgoing, carefree person anyone would ever know,” Cira said. “Everybody would know him – that was just the kind of person he was.”

“Loving this place.”

Six days before his passing, Gatto tweeted:

Gatto spoke to his mother that Sunday.

“He was so excited. He said he had made the right choice and he likes his roommates,” Katherine Gatto said. “Loved the food court, but said he was losing weight even though he was eating a lot because he was walking five miles every day. He was very happy.”

Gatto spent his last few days making new friends, going out after class and working out at the RAC, Cira said.

“Just living it like every day was his last,” Cira said. “Just living life to the fullest pretty much, every single day.”

Though Gatto’s time at Georgia Southern was brief, his friends say it was full of life.

“He enjoyed his time at Georgia Southern very much, and I think he would have really loved to experience his whole time there, but it’s been taken from him,” Katherine Gatto said. “And we’re heartbroken about that.”

“I would just want people to remember him the way he was.”

A lot of people are heartbroken at the loss of Michael Gatto. Tributes at his former middle and high schools drew hundreds of people, Katherine Gatto said.

Despite the fact that Gatto’s death has left countless people heartbroken, Cira said that he does not think Gatto would want anyone to stay sad for long.

“He loved life, so he would want us to remember him for that,” Cira said. “Not for this tragic incident that happened.”

Even in death, it seems that Gatto will still be improving the lives of others. His sister Meghan Gatto tweeted Saturday that her brother’s organs saved five lives.

“He cared about everyone,” Heber said. “I was really, really lucky to have him as my best friend.”

If his friends’ testimonies and tributes on social media are anything to go by, Michael Gatto left a lot of people feeling very lucky to have known him.

“I just want people to remember him like that,” Heber said. “I would just want people to remember him the way he was.”