The first student memorial service was held Tuesday evening to honor members of the TCU community who died during the 2013-14 academic year.
A crowd of about 50 Horned Frogs gathered at the memorial between Jarvis and Reed Halls to celebrate the lives of Clay York, Matthew Nichols and Stewart Trese.
TCU alumnus Clay York died Dec. 22 at the age of 21. Matthew Nichols, a senior finance major, died a little more than a week later on Jan. 1 at the age of 22. Senior marketing major Stewart Trese died Feb. 4 at the age of 23.
The memorial serves as a place of memory and celebration to honor those who may no longer be with us, but made an impact on the TCU community, Student Body President Cody Westphal said.
“We need to symbolize what it means to be a part of this family,” he said. “By being here today, you’re showing the students that we’ve lost are not gone because here we are again, remembering and celebrating them.”
Westphal introduced Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kathy Cavins-Tull, who spoke about the memorial’s design.
The copper statue, similar to the design of Frog Fountain, consists of a single lotus leaf in the center of the memorial. Flower beds and benches surround the structure.
“The single flute represents the individual at the center of our community,” she said.
Cavins-Tull said the three young men each brought their own individual assets to the TCU campus.
“For Clay: his unparalleled talent for using the human body to express his emotions and his gift for giving up himself and lifting others up. For Matt: his deep passion for service and his love for those he called his brothers. For Stewart: his gift for extending himself to everyone, no matter their affiliation, their status, or their circumstances,” she said.
Several students spoke on behalf of York, Nichols and Trese, sharing their memories and experiences with the attendees.
Westphal said he hopes the service will become an annual tradition at TCU.
Officials hung three lanterns outside the balcony on the third floor of the Brown-Lupton University Union in memory of the former students.
Three lanterns were also placed at the memorial and lit by the students who spoke for York, Nichols and Trese.
“We came to this idea of light and darkness, presence and absence. So, anybody that walks by this space as night falls will realize these lanterns and remember that these people are not gone,” Westphal said. “Whether you’re gone or whether you’re with us, it means you make an impact.”
Students who didn’t know York, Nichols or Trese, like first-year business major Madison Stute, also attended the service to honor the lives of the former students.
“I didn’t know them personally but I was really touched by the ceremony,” she said. “The speakers reiterated what it means to be a Horned Frog.”
The ceremony was concluded with a prayer by Rev. Angela Kaufman, minister to the university, who further stressed the importance of unity in the Horned Frog family.