A campus memorial for Ron Wiginton, former adviser to The Leader and English professor, took place Oct. 6 at the Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel.
Students and staff gathered around the campus garden next to the cemetery as they watched Chaplain Rev H. Scott Matheney and several of Ron Wiginton’s family members, friends, and colleagues spread his ashes.
They then went into the Chapel to honor Ron Wiginton through a memorial service. Afterward, there was a reception at Matheney’s house.
The service opened with introductions from Matheney and President Troy VanAken. Then, English professors Janice Tuck Lively, Lance Wilcox (retired), Nicholas Behm, and Ann Frank Wake gave reflections.
Lastly, Eric Lutz, faculty adviser of The Leader, and former editors Laurie Rich and Roxee Timan gave reflections.
Behm helped coordinate the memorial and remembers Ron Wiginton as a “loyal friend” and someone who followed his interests.
“I think one of the primary impacts he had on my life was just being a good loyal friend and affirming the work that I was doing, the work that we were doing,” Behm said. “I’m sure, and emphasizing how we should do what we felt like doing, follow our passion. Ron always followed his passion — he was the best example of that.”
Behm also emphasized how much Ron Wiginton cared about his students.
“He loved them dearly, he was externally proud of what they accomplished while they were here and even more so what they did when they left. He was always engaged and wanted to know what they did when they left here, and he was so happy to have the opportunity to interact with them to help them learn as much as possible,” Behm explained.
Gianna Montesano, The Leader’s editor-in-chief for the 2021-2022 school year, had wanted to catch up with Ron Wiginton and appreciated the opportunity to attend his memorial.
“Being able to go was just a way to say good- bye to him after his passing,” Montesano said.
Montesano also appreciated hearing the speakers at the memorial and was interested to hear Ron Wiginton’s brother, Mike Wiginton, speak about their childhood.
“When his brother finally spoke, we got to see a different side of him [Ron Wiginton],” Monte- sano said. “It was nice to see how he was as a kid growing up and going to ride Greyhound with his brother at age eight.”
Kween Jean, The Leader’s sports editor for the 2021-2022 school year, also felt moved by Mike Wiginton’s speech, especially when he described his last moment with Ron Wiginton on the train.
“Hearing how he felt that Dr. Ron knew that this may have been his last moment, that was the most significant part of the memorial, and I’m just grateful that he was willing to share that because he didn’t have to,” Jean said.
She felt that everyone in the church could feel the impact of his speech and noted that seeing Mike Wiginton break down was “truly remarkable.
“You could really feel the love between them as he spoke,” Jean said. “It was really tough, the emotions, I was really empathetic.”
Jean also described that in her last phone call with Ron Wiginton, he explained that former students turned to him for advice or sent articles to him to look over.
“He said he was gonna be that person for me,” Jean said. “I hope they [students who were mentored by Ron Wiginton] understand that it’s really a blessing to have had someone like that in their lives.”