Memorial honors students’ lives

Mourners placed flowers around a large photograph of the three friends.

Tricia Michel

Family, friends, faculty and staff crowded into the Ted Mann Concert Hall on Friday afternoon to pay tribute to the lives of Brian Heiden, Amanda Speckien and Elizabeth Wencl.

The three students died in a house fire Sept. 20.

Four speakers at the memorial recalled funny memories, the importance of friendship and the students’ dreams for the future.

Former roommate Fikre Mengistu, who survived the fire, said he will never forget his friends and will remember them every time he looks at their names tattooed on his right arm.

Speaker Monique Matic said she cannot cry anymore, so she has decided to celebrate the lives of her friends’ lives rather than mourn them.

The stage was sparsely decorated with a large photograph of Heiden, Speckien and Wencl and two large baskets full of carnations and mums for Heiden, roses for Speckien and daisies for Wencl.

Hugs, laughter and tears filled the hall as friends and family walked up to the stage and placed flowers from the baskets around the photograph.

Family and friends also wrote memories and messages on light purple cards provided with the program. The cards were collected and will be put together in a remembrance book.

A reception in the lobby followed the celebration. Family and friends signed their names in maroon marker on three white boards while they chatted and ate cookies and juice.

College of Liberal Arts Dean Steven Rosenstone said the University is a strong community that can pull together in times of need.