Virginia Tech Victims Mourned in Online Memorials
MySpace and Facebook pages see an outpouring of emotion from friends and family
Survivors and friends of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre spoke out Tuesday on blog postings and memorial pages on MySpace and Facebook, as authorities in Blacksburg began releasing the names of those killed:
• Ryan Clark, 22, a senior biology and English major with a 4.0 grade-point average, was known as “Stack” to his friends in the Marching Virginians college band, who said of him on their Web site: “He was a loved friend, mentor, and role model who will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the MVs as a true example of The Spirit Of Tech. Stack, we thank you for all the memories, and for sharing with us your true love of life. We will love and miss you always.” He had been planning to pursue a PhD in psychology with a focus in cognitive neuroscience.
• Liviu Librescu, 76 a professor at Virginia Tech originally from Romania, survived the Holocaust in Europe and remained a fighting hero until the end. His son, Joe Librescu, told the Associated Press that his father “blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee. … Students started opening windows and jumping out.” The elder Librescu was recognized internationally for his research in aeronautical engineering, said the head of the Engineering Science and Mechanics Department at Virginia Tech.
• Reema Joseph Samaha, student, as remembered by one of her teachers: “She was a lovely girl with a luminous smile. She somehow gave the impression of being completely open, but also completely capable of hiding complexities unimagined by those around her. … She deserved better than my tutelage, better than to die on the floor of some nameless classroom, better than any of us could give her. I know she believed in a God and an afterlife. Perhaps she is in a better place, beyond pain and fear, and the events of April 16 were no more than a brief snarl in the thread of her life. She is gone. That is tragedy enough for a lifetime.”
• Ross Alameddine, 20, a sophomore who just declared English as his major, was from Saugus, Mass. He was shot in French class. A Facebook page created in Alameddine’s memory called him “an intelligent, funny, easygoing guy who will be greatly missed.” Paul J. Moran, the headmaster of Austin Preparatory School in Reading, which Alameddine attended, issued a statement remembering him as “a bright and engaged student and a truly fine young man. Our prayers and deepest sympathy go out, especially to the Alameddine family, but also to all of the families of the victims of this senseless act.”
• Caitlin Hammaren, 19, was a sophomore majoring in international studies and French. John P. Latini, the principal of Minisink Valley High School (from which she graduated in 2005), said, “She was just one of the most outstanding young individuals that I’ve had the privilege of working with in my 31 years as an educator.” On Hammaren’s Facebook page, Bri Powell, from the University of Central Florida, wrote, “Our prayers are with our fallen sister & her family, this is such a horrific tragedy & I’m deeply saddened that [the women’s fraternity] KKG has lost such a beautiful person. God Bless all of the VT students – today we are all Hokies!”
• Erin Peterson, 18, of Virginia, who had been injured Monday, died Tuesday in the hospital. Her father, Grafton Peterson, told CNN after monitoring his daughter all night, “My baby didn’t make it.” Meanwhile, Kirsten Bennett writes on Peterson’s Facebook page: “I went to middle school with this amazing girl, and 5 years later, i can still remember her huge smile and comforting spirit! She was such a remarkable girl and great friend… i will miss her greatly! my prayers to all of erin’s friends and families.”
• Emily Hilscher, 18, from Woodville, Virginia, identified as Monday’s first victim, when she and resident adviser Robert “Stack” Clark were fatally shot at 7:15 a.m. in the West Ambler Johnson Hall dormitory, according to a Facebook memorial to Hilscher. Said one friend: “She had a great laugh and an amazing personality. She will be missed very much.” News reports called her an animal lover who had been studying animal and poultry sciences. “She worked at a veterinarian’s office and cared about them her whole life,” John W. McCarthy, a family friend, told the Associated Press. “She was so filled with life and always had something wonderful to say or was always making me smile,” another friend said.
• Mary Karen Read, 19, of Annandale, Virginia, was born in South Korea into an Air Force family and had lived in Texas and California. Her favorite quote, according to her Facebook entry, was, “Real love is when you go through the toughest storm and find yourself still holding hands when you come out,” and her courses included music, French, accounting, psychology and English. Her uncle, Ted Kuppinger, told the AP: “She was a beautiful girl, very caring and loving.” While her Aunt Karen said she had struggled to adjust to Virginia Tech’s sprawling 2,600-acre campus, she had recently begun to make friends and hoped to join a sorority. “We all love you Mary because you gave us your love freely,” posted Linda Mitchell. “What better gift could you have given us?”
• Henry Lee, who planned to graduate in 2010, was from Roanoke, Va., and listed his favorite activities as “chillaxin’ with friends, hiking at times, bowling, movies, food and more food.” Describing himself on Facebook, he wrote, “I’m just your typical short Asian (Chinese) guy….talk to me to find out more…peace homies!!!” David Newton remembered him by posting, “I was his TA last semester and I had the chance to talk with him and some of his friends in labs on a weekly basis. … Henry had a beautiful sense of humor, he cared deeply about his education, and he was extremely kind.”
• Jarrett Lane, 22, wrote of himself in Facebook, “I’ll be graduating this semester and hopefully that will mean a change of scenery in the fall when I go to Graduate School. Im definitely outgoing! Im independent in the political sense, and that basically means I am my own #1 candidate for President.”
• Matthew La Porte, 20, of Dumont, New Jersey, was studying political science and French, and had worked as a lifeguard. He was also a member of the Corps of Cadets, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets band, the Highty-Tighties and the U.S. Air Force ROTC, according to his MySpace page. His sister, Priscilla La Porte, posted, “I miss you so much already. Even though you got on my nerves quite often, you always made me laugh and you were such a good friend to have around. I don’t really know what I’m going to do without you, No one could ever replace you. God made you so incredibly unique. But now you know that I was right, and that God is all loving and all merciful and all wonderful. I’m going to miss you so much. You have no idea. But I love you, and I’ll always love you. Now you can do the praying for me.”
• Brian Bluhm, 25, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was a grad student. Writes Ricky Castles, “Brian, it hurts me to think about you being gone. I know you are the one in the better place. When I get there, we’re sitting out in the halls of heaven talking sports with Jesus. (I hear he’s a hokie fan too) I hope and pray you didn’t suffer.”
• Daniel Perez, 21, of Woodbridge, Va., listed among his favorite quotes, “If you take life way too seriously, you’ll never get out alive…” “We will never forget your amazing smile,” posts Carly Keith.
• Kevin Granata, was one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country, whose focus centered on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy. “With so many research projects and graduate students, he still found time to spend with his family, and he coached his children in many sports and extracurricular activities,” engineering professor Demetri P. Telionis told the AP.
• G. V. Loganathan, 51, was a professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. Honors included the Outstanding Faculty Award. He lived with his wife and children on Virginia Tech’s campus, according to the Times of India. “Professor Loganathan was a friendly, understanding, giving, and kind professor,” says a Facebook entry. “He never failed to have a smile on his face. His laughter was contagious. He truly cared about his students and will be missed by all of those who knew him.”
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