MASCOTTE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Mascotte city manager Jim Gleason and his family were shocked and saddened to learn that a young French student who lived with them for six weeks in 1992 was one of the victims of the terrorist attacks on Paris last Friday. Gleason said he even viewed Roman Didier as one of his own. Didier was just a couple of years younger than Gleason's oldest son, and a couple of years older than his youngest son. Didier, 32, was among those killed in the terrorist attacks at the Bataclan theatre.
"You just don't worry about your child going to a concert or going to a cafe or a soccer stadium," said Gleason, "and I think that's the part that is so hard to fathom."
As the years passed, the Gleasons and the Didiers formed a trans-Atlantic friendship. Gleason said, "We messaged back and forth about, 'Well, you need to get back here.' He said 'You need to get back here.' I said, 'Yes, you are right.' Everyone says that, then time goes by. 'Tell your mom and dad hi, and we love them and we'll be in touch.'"
Gleason said they learned of Didier's death after receiving a message from the family. "Sat down, picked up my phone and there was a message from Martien, his mom, saying Roman had been killed the night before in the events," Gleason explained. "My wife spoke with his mother yesterday, and they still didn't know all the details... the government not letting them know, other than the fact he was killed and was with his girlfriend who was also killed."
Gleason described Didier as the life of the party with an "infectious grin." He added, "In honor of him, to be honest, the last thing he would want is for people to be in mourning and suffering. It's just not the way he lived his life."