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Many of us welcome the change of seasons from summer to autumn, with the beginning of school for students of all ages, cooler nights, settling into a regular routine after the busy activities of summer, and a time to prepare for the cold and rainy winter that’s just around the corner. This season also gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the good times and happy memories we’ve shared with loved ones, family and friends.

Western Oregon University — and communities all over the Willamette Valley — began the new academic year mourning the losses of two incoming freshman students and a staff member. LaMont Jarvis was an employee of WOU’s physical plant department. He was on his way to work driving from his home in McMinnville, when his motorcycle crashed on Highway 99W. The university and his family members lost a good employee, husband, father and friend.

New freshmen students Elizabeth Hoke and Nicholas Lyngheim were scheduled to begin classes last week when they were killed in separate car crashes. Nicholas was a member of the WOU Wolves football team and his life was taken when another car ran a red light, causing the fatal collision. Elizabeth was Valedictorian of her senior class at Silverton High School and died in a head-on collision with another vehicle on Riddell Road, just a few miles north the WOU campus.

Two young men from the area also lost their lives —Dallas resident Jeremy Colley when his car crashed on James Howe Road, and Dallas resident Jacob Bailey was involved in the crash on Riddell Road. Both young men were only 24.

Susan Matthies was in the parking lot at Safeway when she was seriously injured in a tragic car accident, and later died in the hospital. Her husband passed away in May of this year. Friends and family members are grieving the loss of a mother, grandmother, sister and good friend.

We are all diminished by the loss of college and community members, and for those who are friends or family members, there are few words that can bring comfort during these dark and tragic times. We can donate to groups or organizations in their names, send flowers to their funeral or memorial services, send sympathy or condolence cards, help alleviate the suffering and lighten some of the burden.

We can honor those we’ve lost by taking the time to hold those we love close to our hearts, and be generous with praise and attention. Every day we share good things with one another is time well spent, because we never know if we will be together again. May angels surround and bring comfort to all who have lost so much.



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