A grieving college community came together Tuesday to remember the life of a football player who had touched many lives, despite his short time at Tabor College.
Dr. Jules Glanzer, Tabor College president, opened up the memorial service by acknowledging the grief and sense of frustration shared by many in the community after the passing of Brandon Brown, who succumbed to injuries suffered in an incident on Sept. 16 in McPherson that is still shrouded in mystery.
“Anger is bubbling over because we don’t understand,” Glanzer said. “But God understands. He too had a son and lost him to death.”
Football head coach Mike Gardner offered thanks to both the students and the community at large for the support given to the team over the last week. He urged the gathering to take an opportunity to tell loved ones what they mean to each person.
“The hardest thing is to feel like you’re alone when something like this happens,” he said. “It means so much to know this kind of support.”
Community was the word spoken the most, as speakers urged the students to come together during their time of grief. Dr. Aleen Ratzlaff, professor of communication and Brown’s academic advisor, said Brown valued his family a great deal, especially his two children. Providing for them was what prompted him to attend Tabor, she said.
“In deciding to come to Tabor, Brandon’s goal was to get his life back on track,” Ratzlaff said. “To become a better father.”
Rusty Allen, vice president for athletics and enrollment management, gave the message for the service and marveled at the commitment Brown showed to his family by trying to improve his circumstances.
“He was willing to leave his little children for a time so he could provide a better life for them,” Allen said.
During his address, Allen recognized the difficult time the college community was going through, but asked them to try to find some good out of the sorrow of this event.
“What if Brandon’s tragedy moves us to following Christ more intentionally so that our world becomes more like God intended it?” he asked. “The circumstances of Brandon’s death remind us of all the hurting and lost people in the world.”
Classes were canceled following the service Tuesday to allow the community an opportunity to grieve for Brown. However, Jim Paulus, vice president for student life, closed with a challenge for the students.
“This is a difficult day for us, both individually and as a community,” Paulus said. “I challenge us, however, to not only open yourselves to the community, but the others, as well.”