Campus Community Remembers Jenna Parlette's 'Amazing Spirit'
Reynolds: "Let"s live the life Jenna lived, a life of being committed and joyful with purpose and perseverance."
September 5, 2013
Two of Jenna Parlette's friends and teammates, juniors Sarah Murphy (left) and Tricia Steffen, spoke of her as one that touched the lives of everyone she encountered, as campus minister Dan Kasztelan (left) and President Jim Reynolds contemplate the students' heartfelt sentiments.
Jenna Parlette’s welcome message to visitors to her Instagram account admonishes them to, “Get off Instagram and start chasing your dreams.”
She never stopped chasing her dreams even as she collapsed within 30 meters of winning last Saturday’s (Aug. 31) cross country meet at Franklin College in Indiana. Parlette died three days later at a hospital in Indianapolis.
Members of her family and Miamisburg friends joined the campus community in filling WC’s 420-seat Heiland Theatre Thursday (Sept. 4) for a “Celebration of Life” service honoring the 20-year-old junior that touched the lives of so many.
Cross country teammate Sarah Murphy, also a junior, described Parlette as a happy person and a dreamer that “always looked on the bright side.
“Jenna was the type of teammate you always wanted to be around,” she said.
Another teammate and friend, junior Tricia Steffen, said Parlette was an “amazing, kind loving person. She made you want to be a better person.”
Ron Combs, Parlette’s track and field and cross country coach, spoke of how she profoundly touched his life and that of his family.
(LEFT) This photo of Jenna Parlette was taken Aug. 24.
“She stood out above everybody,” Combs said. “She had this amazing spirit and was such a positive force on campus.”
The coach noted how Parlette’s mother, Lisa Parlette, told him and those team members that traveled to Indianapolis Tuesday during her daughter’s final hours that she had “no regrets” about her running at such a high level, in spite of being epileptic and having a pacemaker that corrected an irregular heartbeat.
“Jenna was doing what she wanted to do — run,” Lisa Parlette told the team. We couldn’t stop her even if we wanted to.”
Jenna Parlette’s cousin, Ashley Case, concurred and described Parlette as “a quirky and fun-loving girl — and her passion was to run.”
Combs said the team’s Oct. 18 Fall Classic Cross Country Meet, one of the largest in the state, has been renamed the JennaStrong Invitational. He said that is one way they will honor her memory.
“I’m going to miss her dearly,” he said.
Another friend, Sam Krobath, shared his interpretation of JennaStrong, a popular Twitter hashtag and rally cry since last Saturday.
(RIGHT) Jenna Parlette leads the way in last year's WC Fall Classic.
“It’s about Jenna’s kindness, her sense of humor and her hard work ethic and competitive-ness,” he said.
As is the Quaker tradition, a period of open reflection gave those attending an opportunity to share their feelings. Two of them were former classmates of Parlette’s at Miamisburg High School. One spoke of how, since she came to WC, she was so thrilled to have met so many great friends and teammates.
“She would go one and on about how much she liked Wilmington College,” he said.
WC President Jim Reynolds said he is the type of person that tries to fix things and make them run smoothly again.
“I’ve been looking for the words to fix this (a life lost so young and grieving family and friends) — I can’t,” he said. “We will always have a hole in our hearts when we think of Jenna.
“We’re here to express our joy and love for a person we cared about,” he added. “Let’s live the life Jenna lived, a life of being committed and joyful with purpose and perseverance.”
Campus minister Dan Kasztelan, who officiated the service, said Parlette was a daughter, granddaughter, friend, teammate, classmate and fellow competitor, but she was much more, as evidenced by the past five days’ outpouring of support and love — by many that didn’t even know her — from the Wilmington College campus and far beyond.
“Jenna was more things to more people than we will ever know,” he said.