Some remembered his charisma. Others remembered his sense of humor.
Still others, with a sensible chuckle, remembered his accent.
“Chad had a funny Indiana accent that we’d kid around about all the time,” said junior Jason Seuc, a brother of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
“He was a very easy-going, sociable guy who just wanted to be happy and make sure those around him were happy, too,” added Seuc.
Family, friends, university administrators and fellow Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers echoed the remarks at Wednesday’s memorial service honoring 18-year old Meredith, who drowned in Lake Osceola last Monday.
More than 150 people- members of various fraternities, sororities and other organizations- attended the service held at Gusman Hall, and for 45 minutes, rivalries and competition became trivial.
Head of Chaplains Joe Lortie began the service with a prayer, followed by a brief reflection by President Donna Shalala.
In her discourse, Shalala said “I’m not wise enough to know why our Lord took Chad at the beginning of his life.”
“Every time I see an empty chair in the library or a class . . . I’ll think of Chad,” she added. “We honor his memory and spirit by living our lives more thoughtfully. Only our students can honor his spirit.”
Father Frank Corbishley followed Shalala with a few words of reassurance by reminding students “whether [they] live or die, [they] are the Lord’s possession.”
In his sermon, head Chaplain Lortie said Chad made a number of decisions last Monday morning that have gone ringing throughout the university.
“This is a time to reflect and eventually a time to laugh again, because in my heart I believe Chad would want it no other way,” said Lortie.
“I pray that Chad’s life will change each of our lives for the better . . . I believe deep in my heart that that will be his cry as well.”
Deviating from the program, and before the closing prayer, Kappa Sigma president Travis Montgomery approached the podium to speak a few words of his friend.
According to Montgomery, all the Bible verses, expensive flowers and attractive pictures were in vain if people did not know the genuine essence of who Chad was.
“[Chad’s] eyes got ten times bigger every time you talked to him, and until you were done he wouldn’t stop,” said Montgomery, of Meredith’s inherent love for those around him.
“He was all about loving people, that’s why his eyes got so big,” he added. “He was, in every way, an angel.”
According to Dean of Students William Sandler, Meredith’s parents made the decision to organize the university memorial after receiving a myriad of support from Chad’s university community.
“As soon as we knew the parents wanted to hold a service on campus, several of us jumped in and met last Friday to coordinate the event,” said Dean Sandler.
The Chaplains, the Office of Vice President for Student Affairs, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of the President and the Kappa Sigma fraternity were among those who helped organize the event.
With the memory of a friend and a collective strength carry on, folks left Gusman Hall to the tune of The Eye of the Tiger, Meredith’s favorite song.
“If [people] remember one thing of Chad,” said Montgomery, “it’s to let your eyes get ten times bigger when people talk to you.”
A reception at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house followed the service.