Glitter. Openness. Love. Shenanigans.
These are only some of the kind words used to describe the late, beloved Angel’la Jean “Angie” Wright, ’12, during her memorial service held in Ford Chapel on Saturday, April 13.
Angie’s service, “Remembering a Life,” featured musical and dance performances arranged by Allegheny College students who wished to honor the profound impact she had on their lives.
Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell said Angie’s “bright, sassy, tenacious spirit” will live on through the fond memories of her shared during the service and the reception that followed.
Her influence was visible in the Chapel. Several of Angie’s friends sported bright streaks of red hair dye in her honor.
A dance offering performed by Taylor Smith, ’14, Maya Jones, ’14, Grace Beah, ’14, and Hector Henriquez, ’15, paid tribute to Angie’s love of dance and of music.
During her time at Allegheny, Angie was involved in thirteen different campus organizations, including the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, Student Experimental Theatre, college chorus and civic symphony, Sojourners Christian Fellowship, Queers and Allies and the Association for Advancement of Black Culture.
Angie participated in Orchesis Dance Company, International Club and the Student Art Society. She was also a peer leader, a resident advisor and a volunteer at Grounds for Change.
Angie’s friends spoke of her lively, energetic spirit and her kind, giving personality, as well as her authenticity.
“Regardless of what happened, she was always herself. Always,” said Beah, who danced with Angie on St. John’s Baptist Church’s dance team.
Along with the rest of the church dance team, Angie participated in the original performance of the dance offering performed on Saturday, to Kirk Franklin’s “Without You.” Beah, who helped convince Angie to come to the church initially, said Angie declared her Christian faith at St. John’s.
“It was probably the most humbling thing I’ve ever seen,” Beah said of Angie’s conversion experience. “She chose to go up and declare her faith in front of everyone. You saw this light… she was so happy. And afterward she was just laughing…it brightened up the whole entire room.”
Angie’s roommate Kate Holquist, ’12, spoke of her contagious laughter and her smile, which Holquist said melted “even the coldest hearts.” She also spoke of Angie’s enormous capacity for love and kindness.
“You [Angie] have more love in one curly lock of hair than most of us have in our entire being,” said Holquist.
Leonel Leon, ’12, said “shenanigans” made Angie most happy.
“Anything that’s completely absurd, ridiculous, geeky, all that kind of stuff made her laugh,” he said.
Holquist also alluded to some of Angie’s shenanigans: her endless appetite for cake, chocolate, and moscato, the mischief she caused around campus and her playful harassment of Rupert, her fat, three-year-old cat.
“She’s probably the most eccentric person that I’ve met here [at Allegheny],” Leon said.
Angie expressed her vivid personality through her fashion style, which often included glittery elements. Her high school friends from Port Clinton, Oh. remembered that Angie wore a blue prom dress to school in the fourth grade.
“Because of you [Angie], our lives are just a little more glittery. Or a lot more glittery. It’s fine,” Holquist said during the service.
“She was a wild child, even in church…You could tell Angie was coming from a mile away,” Beah said. “She had her bright red hair…She wouldn’t wear what people would call church-appropriate outfits, but it was so Angie, and she was still worshipping and loving God in her own way, which was the best part about it.”
Angie changed her style often.
“She was always doing something different [with her hair]. She would get a weave, she would go natural,” said high school friend Leah Troller.
Leon said there is “no parallel” to his friendship with Angie throughout their college careers. He mentioned Wright’s love for music.
“She was in choir, orchestra, theatre, musicals… anything you could imagine that involved music, she loved that,” said Leon.
He said his close friendship with Angie, which lasted throughout their four years at Allegheny, began when they were in a musical together – a senior project, Wasted, about recycling.
Angie’s sorority sister, Molly Soffietti, ’13, said Angie exemplified Kappa Alpha Theta’s ideals, through her perseverance, loyalty and faith in herself and others.
Angie had several tattoos: Theta’s symbol, a kite with twin stars; a Jesus fish, signifying her Christian faith; the comedy and tragedy masks that represent theatre; a Batman symbol.
“She liked Batman because he was a self-made hero. He didn’t possess any supernatural powers,” Nickell said during the service. “That man trained himself physically and intellectually to fight crime.”
Like Batman, Angie worked hard for everything she had. According to her friends, Angie put her whole being into all her activities.
“Once she was part of the church, she did everything,” Beah said. “She danced with us, sang with us, came to every practice, anything we ever asked…she was always there, the first one.”
Angie volunteered to participate in the original “Without You” dance when there weren’t enough other participants.
Another tattoo, a set of ellipsis in quotation marks indicating a text’s continuation, represented Angie’s openness and spontaneity.
“Her arms were always open to people,” said high school friend Melissa Fox.
Fox said when she first met Angie, she was carrying two book bags: one filled with books she was reading for fun, and the other filled with her coursework.
Angie’s high school friends from Port Clinton, Oh. said the best way her friends and loved ones can remember her is by standing up for what they believe in.
Her friends from high school said they were pleased by the choice to end the service with the “Hogwarts March,” played on the organ by Clay Grego, ’13. Angie loved Harry Potter.
“We would go to the movie premieres, dress up…that was a big part of our friendship,” said Troller.
Hannah Lonnenan added that Angie and her group of friends from high school had been planning to travel to Harry Potter World when they had all graduated.
Troller recalled another of Angie’s most memorable shenanigans, which involved a turtle and took place in her sophomore year of high school
During her sophomore year of high school, Angie went on a drama club trip to New York City to see two Broadway plays. In her free time on the trip, Angie visited China Town and made a purchase which caused a miniature “debacle.”
“She had bought a live turtle from one of the shops,” said Troller. “There was a huge altercation about it…they let her keep him, and she named him, ‘Jamal checkin’ out the scene.’”
Troller said Angie lost Jamal when she went swimming with him in Lake Erie. Her friends joked that Jamal had become the new Lake Erie monster.
A segment of Saturday’s service was set aside for individuals to light candles from the large candle burning for Angie at the front of the Chapel.
Close to sixty different people, among them students and professors, stood to spread Angie’s light and share their personal connections with her.
“Thank you for your undying spirit, that only got stronger when things got tough,” Holquist said to Angie, her roommate, sorority sister and friend.
“I promise to live my life the way [Angie] would want us to…to the fullest.” Holquist said.
The Angie Wright Memorial Fund, started by two of Angie’s high school friends, has raised close to $8,000, enough to cover all of Angie’s medical and funeral expenses. The $600 raised from donations made by Allegheny College community members will pay for a grave maker for Angie’s tombstone.
Born January 29, 1990, in Cleveland, Oh., Angie passed away at the age of 23 in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Monday, April 8, 2013. She died in hospital from an infection arising from strep throat. Angie’s funeral was held yesterday in Port Clinton, Oh., where she was buried at Christy Chapel Cemetery.