Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lorin, You're Not Forgotten

TigerBlog works with two women who share the same first name, though they spell it different.

One is Kelly. The other is Kellie. They are by all accounts close friends in addition to colleagues.

TB is pretty sure that if he asked the next 10 people who walked by to correctly identify which one was Kelly and which one was Kellie, then maybe five would get it right. Hey, TB isn't always sure himself.

"Kelly" is Kelly Widener, who works in compliance. "Kellie" is Kellie Staples, who works with the Princeton Varsity Club.

Unless TB got that backwards.

Between them, they've had three children in the last four years, two for Kellie and one for Kelly. They are young mothers, so full of life, with a seemingly endless future in front of both of them, with their families, friends and work.

When TB pulled into the parking lot this morning, he saw Kelly and Kellie walking in together.

On most days, this wouldn't have been anything noteworthy.

On Feb. 12, though, everything around here is a little different. Something - actually someone - is missing. And today is a harsh reminder of that.

Lorin Maurer, who worked as an athletics fundraiser with the Princeton friends' groups, died four years ago today in a plane crash near Buffalo. In all, 50 people died that night, 49 on the plane and another on the ground.

It's such a waste.

Lorin died on her way to her boyfriend's brother's wedding. She was a few weeks past her 30th birthday.

TB will never forget the feeling of disbelief and the chill he got when he first saw the email saying that Lorin had died. One second she was there, this gregarious young woman with so much of her own life in front of her. And then she was gone, leaving everyone to process the epic tragedy that had touched this building.

TB had been in a meeting with Lorin the day of the crash, and Lorin had to hustle her way out of Jadwin Gym to get to Newark Airport.

As she left, she walked past TB's office, looked in, smiled and didn't say a word as she kept going.

It was typical of Lorin. Always smiling. Always up. Always with energy.

She was a people person, no doubt, and she was in the right job for someone with her personality. No task was a problem. No issue that came up was dismissed. Nobody who needed a hand ever had to ask.

It's hard to believe it's been four years since that day.

The details are still engrained in TigerBlog's memory. There was a women's basketball game that night here at Jadwin, and the news media descended on the building, looking for someone to talk to about Lorin. Some wanted to get into her office on D level to see where she had worked, what pictures she had on the wall.

TB was okay with it, even if it was typical media reaction to a tragedy. He was okay with it because he wanted to do what he could to let the world know what type of woman she was and what the world had lost with her passing.

TB and Lorin were friends, but not close friends. As such, TB left it up to those who knew her best to talk about her that night.

And that meant Kelly and Kellie.

Both struggled through tears. Both were stunned, obviously.

And yet they talked about Lorin, talked about her personality and her love of life and some of the funny things they'd been through together.

Since that day, the athletic department has experienced a large amount of turnover. There are so many people here who didn't know her, didn't work with her.

And yet those who did will never forget her.

TB got a text message a few minutes ago from Scott Jurgens, who was the marketing director here four years ago and who now is in the same position at East Carolina. He of course knew the significance of the date.

When TB pulled into the parking lot and saw Kelly and Kellie, he thought that Lorin would have been with them had she still been there, almost surely married to the boyfriend she left behind, very likely a young mother like her two friends.

To TB, it was almost like a Missing Man Formation, which military pilots do to honor one of their own who has been lost.

Of course, maybe Lorin would have moved on from Princeton by now, moved to another part of the country to continue her career and life.

Princeton, though, will never move on from Lorin Maurer.

Each spring, the athletic department honors one of its own with the Lorin Maurer Award, awarded "to that member of the Princeton Athletics family who best reflects the passion, dedication and infectious enthusiasm that defined Lorin Maurer's character and her inspiring impact on colleagues and friends."

She is also an honorary member of the Class of 1978.

TigerBlog's lasting memories of her will always be about her smile, her laugh, how much "infectious enthusiasm" she really did bring to this department.

There are no words to describe the pain that her family has gone through in the last four years, and there are no words to describe how random it all was. Why Lorin? Why this young woman? Why then?

Why any of the people on that flight? Or the person on the ground that night?
 Today is a sad day around here. It's the fourth anniversary of the saddest day in the nearly quarter century that TB has been around here.

There are no answers to why it happened.

There's just a promise.

To always remember Lorin Maurer.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, TB, for remembering Lorin.

Terry & Scott Maurer said...

Thank you TB for remembering Lorin. We are so grateful that Lorin was a part of the Princeton family!

Anonymous said...

I met Lorin 3 times, and each time came away smiling. It's not man people who have that effect on me once, let alone each time you meet them.

What a tragedy but it's very neat that people at Princeton Athletics are determined to not forget her.