COLUMBIA — Grieving family and friends bowed their heads, embraced each other and passed around boxes of tissues Friday when the MU community gathered to remember the 14 students who died in the past year.
Brianna Baker, Sasha Menu Courey, Rick Courtney, Joe Genereux, Dustin Hainsfurther, Scott Johnson, Phillip Perry, Jeremy Porter, Sean Radcliff, Justin Roller, Rashonda Stanley, Cole Steelman, James Stone and Benjamin Wright were commemorated at an event at Stotler Lounge in MU's Memorial Union.
"We wanted to make sure friends and families had the opportunity to come together and share their joys and memories," said Cathy Scroggs, who led the event.
Scroggs and MU first lady Anne Deaton each spoke about how hard it is to lose people so young. Then, there were sniffles as Kate Basi's clear, soprano voice filled the room, singing "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan with piano accompaniment.
Afterward, Xavier Billingsley, president of the Missouri Students Association, gave a short description of each student who died. Kristofferson Culmer, president of the Graduate Professional Council, read the piece on Scott Johnson, who was a graduate student.
As each name was read, friends and family of the student comforted each other or buried their faces in their hands.
Near the end of the event, the audience watched a video with snapshots of each student to the tune of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
About 60 family members attended the event, said Lacey Yoder, special events assistant for the university.
The Memorial Union tower, erected to commemorate students lost in World War I, will be darkened Friday night, and campus flags flew at half-staff Friday to honor the students.
Counselors from the MU Counseling Center stood in the back to comfort those in need after the ceremony.
"Seeing their faces and hearing their stories was touching," MU counselor Sarah Anthony said. "I'm glad I got the chance to see that."
MU Remembers is an annual event that began in 2002, Scroggs said. She said other universities host similar events.
"It really means a lot to the families," Scroggs said.
Jill Perry, mother of Phillip Perry, went up after the event and thanked Scroggs.
"Fourteen kids," Perry said. "It's unbelievable to me. I just miss him so much."