University administrators, faculty and friends of Robert “Bobby” Tremain (MSB ’06) gathered in St. William’s Chapel yesterday afternoon for a memorial ceremony for the deceased student.

Tremain drowned Oct. 8 in the Potomac River after falling off a boat as it docked around 4:30 a.m.

Tremain’s friends held each other and wept as Rev. Hugh Brown, a Protestant chaplain, offered words of comfort.

“We might ask this afternoon where God is now as we gather to comfort Bobby’s friends and loved ones,” he said. “God is living among us with words like solidarity, mercy, support and love.”

Referring to the words of Martin Luther King Jr., Brown said that “suffering can be redemptive and love can wrestle goodness from the power of darkness.”

Reena Aggarwal, interim dean of the McDonough School of Business, told mourners that Tremain had been an “ambitious student, talented athlete and friend” and the business school was experiencing a “concentrated period of tragedy.”

“During these difficult times I urge you to turn to your own faith for strength and guidance,” she said. “Turn to each other also for strength and guidance.”

Aggarwal also urged students to reach out to their parents.

In one of the afternoon’s most poignant moments, Tremain’s close friend Brian Branand (MSB ’06) spoke of the characteristics that made Tremain special.

“It saddens me to comprehend that now that I no longer see Bobby, I see him more clearly,” he said. “Bobby was himself always and to all people. He loved people and he loved their company.”

Branand urged attendees to learn from Tremain’s life and work to accept people and all of their differences.

“It is hard to always be yourself and to speak and to speak out about what you really think but there is a way to do it and it needs to be done,” he said. “We can begin by allowing others the freedom to be themselves. To celebrate Bobby’s life, let us put away our fears of who we are and our judgments of others.”

Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs, read a letter written from Tremain’s family. They wrote of their emotional anguish following their son’s death and thanked his friends for their support throughout the grieving process.

“So much of our lives revolved around him that it is difficult to think of the days ahead,” Tremain’s family wrote.

Rev. Timothy Godfrey, S.J., concluded the ceremony with the reading of a special citation from University President John J. DeGioia commemorating Tremain’s life.

Writing that “there is no cause of deeper sorrow, greater sadness and profound loss than the death of a student,” DeGioia said that Tremain was “closely tied to his commitment never to live as a spectator but always as an active participant.”

“He was a wonderful young man whose loss we feel deeply. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Tremain family,” DeGioia wrote.

Tremain’s friends filled out condolence cards for his family in a reception after the ceremony.

The GUSA assembly designated yesterday a day of remembrance for Tremain and Daniel Rigby (MSB ’05) who died earlier this week. Assembly representatives hung a banner in Red Square and passed out quarter sheets to students memorializing the two students.

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