May 5, 1998

Contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens

(615) 322-2706

annmarie.owens@vanderbilt.edu



Vanderbilt student and tornado victim remembered

as caring friend

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Kevin Longinotti was remembered as a caring and compassionate student by his friends and fellow cadets during an emotional memorial service May 5 at Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt University campus.

Lt. Col. Michael Patenaude, director and commanding officer of Vanderbilt Army ROTC, said that Longinotti was a great friend, student and ROTC cadet who would have been a fine officer. "If we take a lesson from his caring nature, Kevin can still accomplish much through us," Patenaude told his family and approximately 200 friends, faculty members, University officials and other members of the Vanderbilt community who attended the service.

Longinotti died May 4 from injuries he received when a tree fell on him during a tornado that struck near campus April 16. The 22-year-old senior from Memphis had been scheduled to graduate with his class Friday. Because Longinotti had met the requirements for graduation, he will receive his degree posthumously at Friday's ceremony. Patenaude said Longinotti will also be commissioned posthumously as an Army officer.

The 50-minute service was conducted by Col. Charles W. McCaskey, chaplain for the Tennessee Army National Guard. Longinotti's Army boots, belt and helmet were displayed in front of the altar. A photo of Longinotti, in his Army uniform, had been placed on the altar.

Among Longinotti friends and colleagues who spoke during the 50-minute service was John Phillips, a Vanderbilt senior and fellow cadet. Phillips remembered meeting Longinotti when they were walking across campus from a ROTC lab. "He was full of energy and interested in everyone around him," Phillips said. "There was no one that he did not have time for, and nothing was too small for Kevin."

Phillips noted that Longinotti understood the importance of friendship and that he brought many good people together who will never forget him or his concern for others.

Jennifer Rosson, another member of Longinotti's Vanderbilt class, remembered that he loved math and loved to teach. She and several of the other students who spoke said they were grateful that they had the opportunity to know him.

Daniel Allen, a junior at Vanderbilt, said that Longinotti took him under his wing because he was one of the youngest resident advisers. "Kevin told me not to be afraid to set excellence as the standard," Allen said. "He truly showed that one man can make a difference."

Richard Jones, assistant director of housing and residential education, thanked Longinotti's mother, Deborah Slepicka, for reaching out to all of them in their time of grief and for sharing her son with the University community.

During the service, which was taken from the Book of Worship for the Armed Forces, there was the traditional roll call. Longinotti's name was called three times. The third and last time there was a moment of silence followed by the playing of taps.

As the service concluded, a bagpiper played traditional Scottish hymns outside the chapel.

A funeral is planned for Saturday in Memphis; however, details have not been finalized.

-VU-


Vanderbilt University is a private research university of approximately 5,900 undergraduates and 4,300 graduate and professional students. Founded in 1873, the University comprises 10 schools, a public policy institute, a distinguished medical center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education and human development, engineering and music, and a full range of graduate and professional degrees.

For more news about Vanderbilt, visit the News and Public Affairs home page on the Internet at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/News.


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Document updated May 20, 1998.