Ellen DeGeneres' Gorilla Conservation Campus Honors Stephen 'tWitch' Boss with Tree Planting

The Rwanda-based campus announced they were planting the tree in memory of Boss, who they referred to as "a very special person who left us too soon"

Stephen "tWitch" Boss
Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen "tWitch" Boss. Photo: Mike Rozman/NBCU

Ellen DeGeneres' charity is honoring the life of Stephen "Twitch" Boss.

The Ellen Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda announced they were paying tribute to the late dancer and The Ellen DeGeneres Show co-executive producer by planting a tree in his honor.

"As we celebrated the one year anniversary of our Ellen Campus this past week, we took a moment to recognize a very special person who left us too soon," read the caption of an Instagram post by the gorilla conservation fund on Monday.

In recognition of DeGeneres' friendship with Boss, who died by suicide on Dec. 13 at age 40, the fund planted a tree beside a large plaque that reads: "In Memory of Stephen 'tWitch' Boss and the light he brought to the world."

"tWitch brought light to so many and was a wonderful friend to @ellendegeneres," the caption continued. "In his honor we planted this tree so he will be forever remembered on the campus."

DeGeneres, 65, opened the Ellen Campus last year in an effort to expand the teaching and lab spaces used to study gorillas. The fund, first established by Fossey in 1967, remains the world's largest and longest-running organization dedicated entirely to gorilla conservation.

Boss became a permanent fixture on DeGeneres' daytime talk show after landing a gig as a guest DJ in 2014. He was then elevated to co-executive producer in 2020.

Shortly after Boss' death, DeGeneres candidly spoke about her friend in a teary Instagram video.

While speaking about her grieving process, she explained: "Everyone is in pain and trying to make sense of it, and we'll never make sense of it. The holidays are hard, I think, anyway, but to honor tWitch I think the best thing that we can do is to laugh, hug each other, play games and dance and sing. That's the way we honor him, is we do the things that he loved to do, which is dancing."

"He loved music, he loved games, so we do that," DeGeneres continued in the video. "And I know it seems hard, it seems impossible, but that's how we honor him."

At the end of the post, DeGeneres echoed the sentiments shared by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund on Monday, adding: "[Boss] was pure light, as everybody in the comments said. If you knew him, you knew that. If you didn't know him you saw it. Let's honor him and think about him and send love to one another."

RELATED VIDEO: Stephen 'tWitch' Boss, Former 'Ellen DeGeneres Show' DJ and 'SYTYCD' All-Star, Dead at 40

When The Ellen DeGeneres Show was coming to an end, she gifted Boss a photo of the pair with their arms wrapped around each other, and shared a clip of the moment in a separate Instagram post in December.

"Whenever he's not here it's just different … he's my pal, he's my sidekick, because we have this connection," she said in the video. "Just looking over and he makes me laugh. He really, really makes me laugh."

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"I love you tWitch and you know that much. We tell each other that every day when we say goodbye after the show, we both say love you," she continued. "He says love you much and I say 'Love you.' And so he's never going to be out of my life. He's always a part of my life."

Boss then emotionally told the host at the end of the clip: "I love you and also I love the family that we've gained here. And something I'll always remember is that you gave me a place to just be myself."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

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