Those at Case Western Reserve University who knew freshman Ally Piepho will remember her for her many gifts:
The greatest gift she brought to the CWRU community?
Her ability to unify everyone around her.
“She was a light who drew people in and made people feel comfortable being themselves,” said Allison Finn, the assistant coordinator of first year residence education for Juniper Residential College. As an adviser, Finn had worked with Ally on Juniper Community Council where Ally served as the co-historian. “She was completely herself, she was never afraid to embrace who she was and that allowed everyone else to do the same.”
When students living on Ally’s former floor were asked to describe Ally, most recounted a common theme: despite her short time at CWRU, the entire community was brought together by Ally’s upbeat, caring personality.
“She would talk to everybody,” freshman Madeline Haas, one of Ally’s fourth floor Sherman’s floormates said. “And it wasn’t just small talk for the sake of small talk, it was because she genuinely cared. She was a good friend to have around.”
Friends described Ally as a person who met everything in life with passion, from making friends to her time spent in the classroom.
“She literally could have majored in anything at Case at once,” freshman Katie Pezzot said. “She just loved learning.”
Piepho died on Dec. 21, 2012 at Edward Hospital in her hometown of Naperville, Ill., of natural causes. Needless to say, her sudden death stunned the CWRU community.
“When you hear about stuff like this, you normally think it happened in someone else’s life, that you didn’t know the person,” freshman Carly Watts, another floormate said. “It happened right at the beginning of the break, so we had seen her a week earlier.”
Freshman Marla Vaughn, who also lives on Ally’s former floor felt that the circumstances surrounding Ally’s death made the tragedy even more difficult to accept.
“The hard thing too was that it wasn’t like she died in a car crash,” Vaugh said. “There was nothing to be upset at or angry at for her, or place the blame on, and it felt really unjustified that that should happen to her.”
It was tough for Vaughn coming back to Case, knowing that her friend was not going to be there.
“Since she’s such an energetic person, you would hear her all over the floor. You would hear her laughing and making other people laugh,” Vaughn said. “Now it’s quiet. The floor dynamic is different.”
An informal memorial was held for Ally last Sunday in the Sherman House. Over 70 people attended their gathering and shared memories of Ally.
Yet even amid the tragedy, at that gathering, Ally still shared her greatest gift. According to many friends of Ally, they felt that the whole community was brought together.
Said Haas, “I really think it was her final gift to us.”