Candlelight vigil honors student’s ‘vivacious’ spirit

Louisville sophomore Melanie Reichert passed away Sunday, November 24, 2013. Reicherts WKU friends and classmates gathered for a candle light vigil in which they took turns sharing stories and fond memories of Melanie. Vinnie Tallarico, Reicherts high school boyfriend, shares the ways in which Melanie touched his life. “She really shaped who I am, I would be a completely different person without her,” Tallarico says, “She taught me to believe in myself and other people. She was something else and I was lucky to know her.” 

Anna Lawson

Three weeks after Melanie Reichert’s death, students are continuing to celebrate the life of a classmate, friend and inspiration.

On Tuesday, an intimate group of students gathered together in the brisk December evening in front of the Fine Arts Center for a candlelight vigil in Reichert’s honor. The group began the commemoration by sharing memories and thoughts of Reichert, starting off with Lexington sophomore Devan Hall, one of Reichert’s close friends.

“We sat together in class and got along really great from the start,” Hall said to the group. “I wish I had more time with her. We don’t realize how little time we have with one another until it is gone.”

The circle of about 20 friends continued sharing stories full of light and happiness. They all had one underlying message — that Reichert would be missed.

Among the group was Lexington senior Kerr Beebe, Reichert’s boyfriend.

“I was so blessed to be able to spend the small amount of time I did with her,” he said. “She touched each and every one of our lives.”

Also present at the vigil was Reichert’s roommate, Louisville sophomore Sarah Miller. Miller has known Reichert since they were in fifth grade.

“She was vivacious. She loved to take advantage of every opportunity, and she always got involved in whatever she could,” she said.

The vigil was a time for all of Reichert’s closest friends to surround themselves with people who were also touched and inspired by the life Reichert led.

“It was nice to see everyone come out for this,” Miller said. “I really enjoyed being able to share my own memories with her, as well as hear everyone else’s.”

Even people who didn’t know Reichert as a close friend attested to the fact that she had a kind soul and warm personality.

Nashville freshman Corinna Golding, who lived on the same floor as Reichert in Minton Hall, came to remember her fellow resident.

“Everyone on the floor felt that she was a great addition to the group,” Golding said. “She brought a lot of positive energy that will definitely be missed.”

Once everyone had shared their thoughts, Hall wrapped up the vigil with a few words, followed by everyone blowing out their candles. However, even as the candle lights dimmed, spirits remained high as laughter and hope were heard throughout the group.

The students stayed and continued to share more stories from Reichert’s life. New acquaintances exchanged phone numbers and promises to keep in touch, and words of support and encouragement were heard throughout the group.

“I know she will be remembered for her free spirit,” Miller said. “She had an open mind, an open heart and love for everyone.”