SELINSGROVE — Zach Kane pulled his fingers through his short brown hair and wept, mourning the sudden death of his friend and Susquehanna University classmate, Emma Cook.
“I’m gonna miss her a lot. It hurts,” the sophomore said following a 20-minute on-campus memorial Wednesday afternoon.
“I still can’t come to terms with the fact that she’s gone and she’s not coming back.
University officials are not disclosing Cook’s cause of death early Wednesday morning at Reed Hall, where the 19-year-old sophomore from Merrimack, N.H., was a residence assistant.
School chaplain Scott Kershner organized the memorial to give students a chance to gather and mourn.
“It’s really important to bring people physically together to support one another and grieve,” said Kershner, who spoke at the memorial along with Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons and Rev. Daniel Powell of St. Pius X Catholic Church.
Lemons was at the airport in Philadelphia heading to an insurance consortium board meeting when he learned of Cook’s unexpected passing and promptly returned to the Selinsgrove campus.
“In times of loss, it’s important for people to be there for one another,” he said.
Kane said Cook, who many friends and acquaintances described as extraordinarily friendly and caring, was always complimentary of people she met.
“She made everyone happy,” he said. “She was the strongest person I know, but she wouldn’t be happy to hear me say that. She didn’t see herself that way.”
After the memorial, dozens of students lingered on the lawn near the Degenstein Center and signed a cardboard memorial, talked, wept and hugged one another.
Inga Delwader, an employee at Benny’s Bistro on campus that Cook patronized regularly, said the young woman was hard to miss with her ever-changing hair color, including pink and purple, and outgoing personality.
“She introduced herself to me,” said Delwader, noting that most students simply show her their ID.
Sean Colvin, a junior, didn’t know Cook personally, but felt her presence on campus.
“I remember her laugh,” he said.
He was drawn to the memorial to hear other remembrances of the young woman.
“We’re in the same position in our life. You wish it wouldn’t happen, especially to someone who has had an impact,” Colvin said. “I’m thinking a lot about her parents.”
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