After dusk on April 11, Memorial Union’s exterior lights remained off, transforming the building into a gothic silhouette against a black-blue sky. Campus flags had been at half-mast all day. The bells of Switzler Hall had echoed across Francis Quadrangle that afternoon.
The somber gestures were for six University of Missouri students who died in the past year: Aaron Boren, 23, of Jackson, Tenn.; Adam Garb, 37, of Columbia; Danielle Jones, 24, of Camdenton, Mo.; Samuel Kloeppel, 19, of Columbia; Jarrett Mosby, 21, of Collinsville, Ill.; and Rui Ren, 25, of Hunan, China.
The students were also honored with a memoriam in Memorial Union’s Stotler Lounge, attended by more than 100 students, administrators, faculty and family members.
Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton expressed sympathy and condolences to the families. He said MU exists for its students and all are precious. Quoting an oft-repeated sentiment of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, who couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, “It’s all about our students.”
Mason Schara, president of the Missouri Students Association, and Jake Wright, president of the Graduate Professional Council (two of the students were in graduate programs), gave heart and body to the names and faces.
Boren graduated from the Missouri Military Academy and practiced tai chi. Garb was a Bright Flight Scholar and unbeatable at Scrabble. Kloeppel played lacrosse and was an avid Mizzou sports fan.
Ren volunteered to teach kindergartners. Jones loved the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Mosby snacked on Oreos and cereal during study.
And they were loved. Jones had a “beautiful smile and amazing sense of humor.” Ren was “passionate about life.”
Thoughtful music, a video collage of the six and a reading by theater professor Jessie Adolph of the poem “Life Is a Fading Mist” followed. Some family members wept, while others sat motionless, eyes glowing.
Unveiled that day in a hallway was the addition of the students’ names to the University of Missouri Student Memorial Plaque.