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Friday, August 29, 2008

The Banner Behind

Last week Reverend Nickle and Josh Beebe, who works with Greek Life on campus, took the Trinity banner to the funeral for Emma Hutchinson in Houston. Emma, a junior, passed away on August 23 after succumbing to an infection related to lifelong health issues. The Hutchinsons asked that the banner be displayed along with ones from the Rice Colleges where Emma grew up as a daughter of the College Master - a live-in position in the Rice Colleges. She loved her teachers, her education, and her friends heree, and the family wanted to honor that.

The banner was returned to Trinity in time for the lecture the next day by Greg Mortenson. In his talk, Mr. Mortenson (pictured with Ben Newhouse at left, in front of the Trinity banner) stressed the importance of education. His enthusiasm is remarkable. He doesn't care about politics or terrorism per se. His mission is to build the world up one school at a time, particularly where there is resistance to education.

It has been gratifying to learn more about Emma. As with Greg Mortenson, she was driven by education. Having lived in the Rice Colleges and then moving on to Trinity, she was described by one professor as the most enthusiastic student he had ever had. Her passion for math was unparalleled. At the Trinity service her friends described a time when, during an intermission at the symphony downtown, she pulled out a napkin at the nearby coffee shop, scribbling frantically, because a math solution had suddenly come to her.

Greg Mortenson has been imprisoned for his passion. He has been caught in weapons crossfire, and he has sacrificed family time for his cause. Emma's father and sister both articulated that they knew one day they would face Emma's death. Her illness gave her life in many ways. She lived a full, brave life in a brief 20 years.

Emma's friends and family loved her intensely. She was a character. She was focused, funny, loyal, and quirky. Greg Mortenson shares many of these traits. He is clearly a person who sees the good in others and feels called to serve with loyalty and compassion. He is a big teddy bear who talks to the Taliban, builds bridges, signs books for hours, and befriends strangers.

So we were blessed last week -- in many ways -- by hearing more about the passions of two people who never met, but had much in common: appreciation for education, a love for learning, courage, humility, disregard for arbitrary boundaries, and even a maroon banner.
Click here to read the very moving eulogy (one of several) for Emma deliverd by her friend and professor, Dr. Betsy Tontiplaphol, at the Trinity service.

1 comment:

ELK said...

this is a touching tribute ~ what a celebrated life ~ thanks David.