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Anthony Urena's Family Remembers College Student as 'Strong' and Ambitious

By Carolina Pichardo | December 31, 2015 2:57pm | Updated on January 4, 2016 8:49am
 The 23-year-old college student was on track to success, the family said. 
Family Remembers Anthony Ureña
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UPPER WEST SIDE — When Anthony Ureña went missing in early November, his family wanted nothing more than to find him and bring him home.

But on Christmas Day, after months of searching, the Hoboken Police Department found his body along the Hudson River in New Jersey — ending any hope that he would return. 

“I still don’t believe it,” Judith Lopez, Ureña’s mother, said Wednesday from the apartment they shared with three of his siblings in the Frederick Douglass Houses. 

“I’m still expecting him to walk through the door.”

Although the family was only notified of the discovery on Dec. 29, the cause of the 23-year-old's death is still unknown. 

Ureña was last seen on Nov. 14 near West 204th Street in Inwood after leaving the club Cliff at 440 W. 202nd St., police said.

On Wednesday night, his family gathered with friends at the apartment, which was filled with flowers and pictures of Ureña that his sister, Ashley Lopez, 19, put on display to remember him.

There were photos of a 3-year-old Ureña dressed as the Red Power Ranger with his brothers for Halloween. Another showed him sitting on a storage bench, holding his chin and looking unsure of whether to pose or smile.

“[Anthony] is strong, handsome and respectful,” said his aunt, Kenia Garcia, who cared for Ureña when he was a baby.

“The bike rides, for me and him, that meant something for us,” added his childhood friend Ransel Bonilla.

Bonilla, who was one of the last people to see Ureña alive, said the two would bike together after school or work, sometimes riding for 20 miles “in freezing weather."

His family remembered the Lehman College student as someone they could always turn to.

“I confided in him a lot,” his sister said. “He was easy to talk to, always said the right thing.”

His brother, Christopher Ureña, 25, described him as strong and stubborn, “but in a positive way.”

“I’m glad he’s the way he is,” his mother added, “because he was always straightforward.”

The memories his family shared united them around “Moreno,” the nickname Lopez gave him when he was born.

“I remember when I brought him home, he came out looking around,” his mother said, widenening her eyes to show how curious Ureña was, a trait she noted would take him places as he got older. 

Ureña was studying full time to become an accountant, a profession that interested him from a young age.

“Always the saver,” Christopher said. "He barely spent a dollar. In his mind, he knew what he was going to do with all that money once he could. [He was] goal-oriented."

His family is now making preparations for the wake and funeral, as well as trying to find the perfect red casket, Ureña’s favorite color, Lopez said. 

They will be alerting friends and family with details via Facebook, as well as through the Lehman College community, representatives of which Lopez met with Wednesday morning.

For now, though, Ureña mother said she finds comfort with her son's dog Sam, who she's embraced as an extension of him.

"He's the new Moreno now," she said, with tears in her eyes. "The second Moreno."