Reynolds, 20, died in an automobile accident Feb. 6 while returning to St. Olaf for second semester.
College Pastor Benson opened the service by asking attendees to, "Remember and give thanks to God for Meredith Reynolds." He cautioned against viewing the death as another accident to plague St. Olaf.
"Any time death strikes down a group of people its easy to let numbers become more important than names," Benson said. "We are not here to remember student death we are here to face our loss, share it together and commend Meredith to God."
President Christopher Thomforde's wife, Christine, spoke in his place due to illness. She remembered calling Reynolds father after hearing about Merediths death to console him. He said to her, "The family gathered to send her on her way; we all kissed Meredith goodbye and half an hour later she was in heaven."
Reynolds roommate Melissa Kohnke '03 and Seth Patterson '02 spoke on her behalf. They struggled to convey their sentiments about their relationships with her. "What an amazing friend and human being she was. No words can release them. I am one of many that love Meredith," said Patterson.
They sent out an e-mail to friends of Reynolds asking for their input: "What did Meredith teach you?" Many responses were received eliciting an array of emotions, "She taught me friendship was not just a title She had passion for life and gave me patience She didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear She taught me to love life Meredith taught me how to live again, she gave everything she had."
Rita Glazebrook, chair of the nursing department, recalled Reynolds spirited personality and drive to help others. "She had a zest for life, strong in faith, and learned to be in service of others." Reynolds work in the nursing department and assistance on a research project helped develop a meaningful teacher-student relationship with Glazebrook.
Glazebrook verbalized the feelings of many struggling with losing Reynolds. "It's hard to understand why such a terribly bad thing happened to such a great person."
Glazebrook recited from Reynolds entrance application to St. Olaf. Her own words demonstrate the compassionate person she was: "I view learning as never-ending. I value every experience that can increase my exposure."
"Meredith Reynolds will be missed by many, forgotten by none," said Glazebrook in closing. "I for one feel truly blessed to have been given that opportunity."
Reynolds experience of life increased during Interim, which she spent in Rome. Bill Poehlmann, associate professor of religion, used emotional words to express his sorrow over Reynolds death. The Interim group had gotten together and made a commemorative book including pictures and writing for Reynolds family.
Afterwards, friends and family were encouraged to share their memories and stories of Reynolds. Lindsey Leclaire '03 hadn't seen her since Christmas break, but received an e-mail from Reynolds saying she was a bit homesick. "I sent her an e mail saying Ill see you when you get home and now I guess Ill see her when we get home" said Leclaire pointing towards the sky.
Emily Judd '03 had gotten to know Reynolds during the Interim trip to Rome. She was most thankful for getting to say goodbye. "When parting on the escalator I wished her a safe trip home and gave her a hug. I'm glad that I got to say an appropriate goodbye to her," said Judd.
Reynolds father, Charles, closed the sharing of memories by comparing her life to an unfinished clay pot. "All of us feel so blessed that Meredith was our daughter and to share her with each of you" he said. "She transformed from an unfinished clay pot into a wonderful young woman."
A photo slide show followed, characterizing Reynolds spirit and joy of life.
Dean of Students Greg Kneser and Associate College Pastor Jennifer Koenig closed with prayers for Reynolds, her family, hometown community, and the community spirit of St. Olaf. A reception in the Heritage Room followed for friends and family to meet and heal.
Reynolds, 20, died on Feb. 6 in an automobile accident eight miles north of Ada, Minn. She was returning to school with Andrea Martin '05 following Interim break. The accident occurred around 4 p.m. at the intersection of Norman County Road 3 and Highway 9, just 20 minutes after the students had left Crookston.
According to the Minnesota State Highway Patrol, Jennie Mason, 22, of Beltrami, Minn. was driving a 1992 Oldsmobile Bravada east on County Road 3 and, after allegedly running a stop sign, broadsided the 1990 Mazda 626 in which Reynolds was a passenger. Reynolds died at the scene.
Martin, the driver of the Mazda, suffered minor injuries. She was treated and released by Bridges Medical Services in Ada.
Neither of Masons two children, who were in the car at the time of the accident, were hurt. The State Highway Patrol Authorities are investigating the crash.