Monday, March 9, 2009

Remembering Lori

Back in June of last year, I wrote an entry called "Remembering Rebecca." It was about the loss of a very special student in our program, Rebecca Forward. As I said then, a student is not supposed to die before her teacher. It is the wrong order of things. Once again I must write a remembrance, and I am having similar difficulty with the death of a student who passed all too soon for those who knew her. Lori Rollins was an outstanding student, full of curiosity and enthusiasm. She did not just do her work, she overdid assignments. If a list of ten resources was required, she would turn in 15. If she needed to write three pages, she would write five. She was also a leader in our online discussion forums. Last summer Lori took my travel study class and was one of the group of students who went to London. She told me then that she was celebrating completion of cancer treatment, and was officially a survivor. I had not even realized that she was battling breast cancer. Characteristically she had not mentioned this when she was in another class of mine. Because most work is online, it was easy for her to keep up without missing face to face meetings. While other students might ask for extra consideration due to much less trying situations, Lori never missed a beat in class.

It was during the travel that I got to know Lori better. If I had to pick one word for her, it would be spunky. She was full of good spirits and vitality, and kept expressing her delight to be able to make our trip. I was happy when she signed up this fall to join our next trip, scheduled for this coming summer. When she emailed me in December to say she needed to drop out of the group because her cancer had recurred I was disappointed but not overly concerned. After all, Lori was a survivor! Sadly, her recovery was not to be. In February I visited her in the hospital after she had undergone surgery for a brain tumor. I expected to find her flat on her back with tubes, etc., and to say hello briefly and leave. She was sitting up in bed and eating lunch, looking quite hearty for someone who has just had major surgery. Her biggest goal was to finish her very last course and graduate. I felt sure this would happen, because she looked and sounded so good. By then I realized she was not likely to stage a full recovery, but I did think she had several more months, and that I would see her again at graduation. This was not to be. Lori died last week. To compound this very sad event, her brother, one year younger, died last week also, of unexplained causes. He collapsed and died at his home a day or two before Lori passed. Such loss for a family is hard to fathom. My heart goes out to this close-knit family, and especially her children and her parents.

Lori's diploma will be awarded posthumously in May. I had told her that when she walked across the stage to get that diploma I was going to stand up in the audience and cheer. I may just stand up anyway when her name is announced.


  1. This is absolutely heart breaking. I am so sorry to hear about this.
    But somehow, her story has inspired me because of how she touched so many lives. I only I could have known her. My students are so important to me, and I often forget that they live everyday lives. One of them dying is unfathomable. So sorry again, for you and your community.

    Amy Bowllan

  2. What a wonderful tribute, Dr. Bell. I was so very sad to hear about Lori--I had no idea she was even ill! I was not able to walk at my own graduation in December. You mentioned that I could do it in May--I had already decided I was not going to walk, but I think I may change my mind. In fact, I think AS MANY MLS students as possible should attend graduation--and give her a standing ovation...what do you think?

  3. Dr. Bell, thank you for your beautiful testimony to my very dear friend. Lori was everything you have written, and much more. Throughout her struggle with cancer, she never once complained about what she was going through. Lori always had a smile on her face and was eager to laugh at the humor in any situation. She and I met and became friends our first class together at Sam and I am so thankful that we shared the London trip last summer together. Even while she was in the hospital recently, we laughed at some of the adventures we had there. I will miss her tremendously. I will definitely be at graduation celebrating her success--I promised her that we would celebrate hers as we had mine in August.

  4. I was one of the people on the study trip to London last summer. I got to know Lori then through a mutual friend, Lisa Howard. We had so much fun during those ten days. Lori was always full of positive emotions and cheerful. I enjoyed getting to know her and exploring London and the surrounding countryside together. I will always remember this trip, and the memories will always include Lori! I too plan on being at the graduation and cheering for her!


    Tara Rollins

  5. It was my privilege and joy to get to know Lori on the London Travel Study trip last summer. To say I was shocked when I read Dr. Bell's announcement on Lib_Sci is an understatement; I saw Lori at the Book Festival in the Fall. She looked wonderful and was very excited about visiting Canada with Dr. Bell Summer 2009. I took it for granted that I would see her again at TLA this April; my regret is that I did not keep in touch, electronic media makes it so easy. I will cherish the memories that I have and resolve to live in the example that she left for us-every day to its fullest!! Thank you Lori for showing me how!!