The lives of former Framingham State students, staff and faculty members were honored at the University’s new memorial site during a dedication ceremony held on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Several administrators at the ceremony, including President F. Javier Cevallos, spoke about the need for a location on campus where the FSU community members could reflect on their losses as well as mourn tragedies.
“I think that it’s very important at a University to have a place for memory, to keep the memory of our people,” Cevallos said in opening remarks.
During the ceremony, Dean of Students Melinda Stoops was joined by Patti Donahue – the mother of former FSU student Ashley Donahue, who was a passenger in a fatal drunk driving accident in 2011 – and Dennis Kelly – the father of Colleen Kelly, who was struck and killed by a car along Route 9 – as they tied memorial ribbons in honor of their children around the branches of an oak tree.
Stoops said she was saddened when the blue ribbons memorializing Donahue, which had been placed around campus after her death by friends and classmates, were taken down.
“I felt sad because her memory wasn’t right in front of us anymore,” Stoops said.
The Dean added she had kept one of Donahue’s ribbons and the memorial ribbons for other deceased students in her office.
She said holding on to the ribbons reminded her every day of “what’s important,” and that they helped her “remember our students.”
The reinterring of former FSU student Asako Mazawa’s ashes also occurred at the Memorial Grove Dedication Ceremony.
Mazawa’s ashes had been buried at a memorial garden in her name during a 1999 ceremony, but they were removed due to the Hemenway Hall expansion construction in May of 2013.
Interim Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Lorretta Holloway reinterred the ashes. Holloway said some of the original shrubs and flowers from Mazawa’s memorial garden will be replanted in the spring.
A Japanese student who majored in history at what was then called Framingham State College, Mazawa was killed in a motorcycle accident in the summer of 1997.
Mazawa registered as an organ donor when she received a United States driver’s license two months before her death. Despite the unpopularity of organ donation in Japan at the time, Mazawa’s parents agreed to have their daughter’s organs donated.
According to a July 25, 2010 article in the The Daily Gazette, Mazawa gave seven of her organs – the maximum amount one could donate at the time. Six people received Mazawa’s organs, which included her heart, lungs and liver.
The Memorial Grove features two oak trees, four granite benches, and a sundial that is perched atop a pedestal. The sundial, which was recently purchased by Holloway’s office, serves as the “centerpiece” of the memorial site, Cevallos said.
A sundial was a “fitting” symbol of the school’s long history, he added. “The dial has a long tradition at Framingham State. It was the name of our yearbook for many, many years.”
That sundials use light was also a reason why the device was chosen to be the Memorial Grove’s centerpiece.
“The memory of all the students that have left us has to bring us light,” he said. “They are in the light. They are our light.”
The pathway in front of the sundial is made of bricks that Associate Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Warren Fairbanks said could be taken out and replaced with engraved bricks which memorialize particular members of the FSU community who have passed.
“The thought is that if a class or an alum or a family would ever want to memorialize someone, you could purchase a brick,” Fairbanks said in an interview late last month.
At the ceremony, SGA President Dan Costello stressed the importance of remembering those the community has lost “so they forever remain a part of our memory.
“It is never easy to encounter a tragedy like that of the death of a student, but it is reassuring to know that here at our university, we have always had the support of an entire community behind us,” Costello said.
Many students around campus had positive opinions regarding the Memorial Grove.
Jesse Lawlor, a junior, said the memorial site was a “wonderful addition” to the FSU campus.
“It gives students a chance to come together to celebrate and remember the people who have come in and out of our lives as a community,” Lawlor added.
Jennifer Holden, a junior, said she thinks a memorial site on campus is “a great idea” and wishes one had existed sooner.
“The idea that there is somewhere on campus for students to gather for those we’ve lost is what our school is about – being a Framily. It is a sad thought losing a student or faculty member, but now we have somewhere that everyone can gather for specific events,” Holden said.
Danielle Williams, a junior, agreed having a memorial site was a good idea, but did have some reservations.
“I’m worried that it will not be as great of an idea when put into practice. Not everyone agrees on what is a tragedy and what is not,” Williams said.
Interim Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Lorretta Holloway read aloud the names of recently lost FSU community members.
FSU students Ashley Donahue, Brendan Kelly, Colleen Kelly, Nancy Murphy, Tyler Richardson, Darius Theriault and Devin Wood were memorialized at the ceremony.
Also honored at the event were former FSU staff members David Smith and William Kelley, and faculty members Barrie Westerman, Ed Melegian and Antone Dias.