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Memorial service held for Lindsey Bonistall

2:45 p.m., May 10, 2006--About 150 people stood under the trees in The Grove on a beautiful spring day to remember Lindsey Bonistall, the 20-year-old English/journalism student whose life ended tragically May 1, 2005, when she was murdered in her off-campus apartment.

“We have gathered today to celebrate Lindsey Bonistall's life and to honor her memory on the first anniversary of her death,” UD President David P. Roselle said as he opened the memorial service.

Several feet away from The Grove, a wooded area south of Alison Hall West, stood a tall pink dogwood sapling, filled with new blossoms, that was planted in Ms. Bonistall's honor. Beside it, a plaque read, “Lindsey Marie Bonistall, March 20, 1985-May 1, 2005. May she be remembered with peace and love.”

“It is important that we remember Lindsey for her hard work, her affectionate nature and her desire to bring peace to the lives of others,” Roselle said. “To that end, we have planted a beautiful pink dogwood tree here in The Grove. It is along a walkway between Memorial Hall--home of the Department of English--and the Perkins Student Center--home of the student newspaper The Review--and it is a path that Lindsey would have often walked. The dogwood will bloom every year on May Day so that as we welcome the spring, we will welcome Lindsey's spirit into our hearts.”

He called her a “vibrant young woman whose enthusiasm and passion for life touched many members of the University of Delaware community.” Roselle said the tragic nature of her death should not be allowed to overwhelm the beauty of the way she lived her life.

Monsignor Michael Szupper, director of the Saint Thomas More Oratory and Catholic Campus Ministry, led the gathering in a prayer, recalling Bonistall's vibrant spirit. “She tried to catch the world with an embrace and grateful heart,” he said. He asked for a blessing on the tree planted in her honor that will share the fruits of spring with everyone just as Bonistall “shared her song with the music of friends.”

Bonistall's friends Christine Bush, Nicole Gengaro and Jonathan Little, seniors at UD, recalled her humor, her joy for life and her wisdom.

“The laughter was never ending. I thought I'd spend my life talking and laughing with you. When you left for good, I didn't know how life would go on. I feel privileged to know that you considered me your best friend and platonic life partner,” Bush said.

Kathleen Bonistall unveils a plaque next to a pink dogwood tree planted in The Grove in memory of her daughter, Lindsey Bonistall.

Gengaro remembered how she and Bonistall helped each other through the transition from high school to college.

“This past year has been hard,” she said. “There have been so many times I've stopped in the middle of a moment knowing how you'd enjoy it with me.”

Bonistall's boyfriend Jonathan Little, a senior read from the lyrics to John Lennon's song, “Bless You.”

Bless you wherever you are
Windswept child on a shooting star
Restless spirits depart
Still we're deep in each other's hearts
And remember though love is strange
Now and forever our love will remain

He said Lindsey was a beautiful woman with a unique personality filled with wisdom and love.

Bonistall's friend, John Visconi, a senior political science major, played the medley “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Beautiful World” on his guitar.

Ben Yagoda, professor of English and Bonistall's teacher, said “9/11 and Lindsey's death changed my classes forever.” He said that he and his students began to talk about how to cover something so terrible both on a global and personal level. He thanked Bonistall's family and friends for creating PEACE OUTside Campus, a foundation dedicated to promoting safe living environments in off-campus student communities.

Yagoda also introduced the recipient of the Lindsey Marie Bonistall Memorial Scholarship, Emily Picillo from Middleton, Mass., a senior English/journalism major and city editor for The Review. The scholarship was created by UD to be awarded annually to an outstanding senior student of journalism.

Bonistall's father, Mark, thanked everyone who attended the service including Roselle, Newark Mayor Vance Funk, Cynthia Cummings, UD associate vice president for campus life, and Robert Davis, vice president for university development and alumni relations.

Roselle ended the ceremony by telling the Bonistalls, “We join you in your sorrow, but we look forward to the future.”

Article by Barbara Garrison
Photos by Greg Drew

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