A group of friends and family appeared on CSUâ€™s Oval Tuesday night carrying candles in honor of Devon Arnold, a senior mechanical engineering major and Alpha Tau Omega member whose body was found on a set of train tracks northeast of Denver Thursday morning.
The procession drifted reverently toward the Administration Building under the ancient trees until it stopped to light the candles of students, friends and faculty who had gathered in front of the steps in somber remembrance.
The cold air settled around the crowd as it slowly marched to the Lory Student Center, silently dropping the remnants of their candles into bins placed outside of the doors at the entrance.
The East Ballroom filled, and the whispering crowd sat to face a portrait of Arnold, displayed on projectors behind the podium. His smile greeted the audience, and after a moment of silence the memorial began.
â€œThis is not a night to mourn what could have been,â€ said Mark Johlgren, the president of the ATO fraternity. â€œIt is a night to celebrate what was.â€
â€œThatâ€™s what Devon would have wanted,â€ he said.
It was a night of remembrance, of telling stories about their fallen brother, Johlgren said, and as Connie Winter-Eulberg, a CSU pastor, spoke about finding the â€œholyâ€ that people believed in, the crowd closed their eyes to remember Arnold.
â€œHe was the guy that brought groups together,â€ Johlgren said, looking out on a collection of people â€œfrom different places in life.â€
â€œYou would bring him to a new group and place, and he would leave the room with a bunch of new friends,â€ said Joe Kochevar, a former roommate and friend of Arnoldâ€™s.
â€œDevon was the dad of our group,â€ he said. â€œI always felt like I could talk to him about anything.â€
He was a man who loved his friends and family, whose wild curls set him apart in a crowd and who escaped to the outdoors when he wasnâ€™t working diligently on engineering projects that he dedicated his time to.
â€œA fisherman at heart,â€ Arnold was a brother and a â€œbest friend for lifeâ€ for many of those who knew him, said friend Conor McCluskey.
â€œHis smile, his hair, his laugh, they brought joy to any person who met him,â€ he said.
Kochevar said he could remember seeing Arnold in the hall early in the morning with â€œa breakfast that would put a Grand Slam to shame,â€ ready to venture to the Poudre for a day of fly-fishing.
â€œFishing was one of his passions,â€ Kochevar said. â€œHe would show me to his favorite parts of the river. â€¦ There we would be at seven in the morning, and heâ€™s taking me to the honey holes he had found in that river.â€
â€œWhen it came to fishing, I always looked up to him,â€ said Brandon Perry, the chaplain at ATO. â€œNext time I go out there, I know heâ€™ll be there with me.â€
Johlgren remembered Arnold, â€œa man who lived off of coffeeâ€ and for his dedication and passion for everything he spent his time on, especially his engineering projects.
Ryan Richmond, an ATO member and fellow engineering student, said he, like he thought Arnold would, looked at the memorial with hope.
â€œItâ€™s easy to focus on a problem,â€ he said, â€œbut itâ€™s important to instead be focused on the solution.â€
And so Richmond continued on, describing the solutions he and Arnold had found to the problems they had faced.
From rushing Folsom Field after the Ramsâ€™ victory over CU-Boulder to their â€œwestern-style duelâ€ with paintball guns â€“â€“ a day both Arnold and Richmond â€œscreamed like little girlsâ€ â€“â€“ the solutions the friends found are the memories Richmond cherishes now.
â€œProblem: Devonâ€™s unfortunate death,â€ he said. â€œI am empty and lost without him. â€¦ But Devon helped to teach me the solutions, to be free, honorable, witty, proud. To love.â€
â€œThank you for everything, Devon, but the pleasure was all mine,â€ he said.
Thoughts of love and remembrance filled the pages of books set out for guests to record their memories and last wishes for Arnold. The books will be given to Arnoldâ€™s parents.
â€œYou have inspired many and will be with us for years to come,â€ one guest wrote.
â€œI love you, brother,â€ another wrote.
For his mother, Beth Arnold, this was a night to celebrate her son with those who loved him.
With tears in her eyes as Johlgren handed her the fraternityâ€™s flower â€“â€“ the white tea rose â€“â€“ she turned to the audience and said, â€œThank you, everyone, so much for loving our son.â€
â€œWeâ€™re all a family in this room,â€ Johlgren said in his closing remarks, â€œbecause we all loved Devon.â€
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