Amidst the joy and excitement that accompanied last Wednesday, one of Ole Miss’s rare snow days, Fenton Kottkamp was tragically killed in a sledding accident.
The university hosted a memorial Saturday at the Tad Smith Coliseum for those who wished to pay their respects to Kottkamp.
The service opened with a prayer and a reading from scripture by Eddie Lawton.
“Mourning and grief must not be the end point,” Lawton said. “We must move beyond sorrow and instead remember his smile, energy and love.”
Lawton next reminded those in attendance of the power of love.
“Death will not be what motivates us; love will because it transcends death. Love is the good that will prevail,” Lawton said.
Next, Laura Johnson, a friend of Kottkamp, delivered a touching eulogy.
“Fenton was my best friend,” Johnson said of the deceased.
Johnson recalled how she met Kottkamp the beginning of freshman year at the welcome picnic in the Grove, and how they had been close ever since. Johnson appeared overwhelmed as she cited Kottkamp’s laugh as one of her favorite sounds in the world.
She also expressed her gratitude for their time together — even on his last day.
“He spent it the way he loved: laughing and playing with his friends,” Johnson said.
“I don’t want to be sad that he’s gone but happy because he lived an amazing life,” she said in closing.
Alex Medders gave a second eulogy. Medders explained he had been Kottkamp’s roommate freshman year and that they had been inseparable through the last four years.
“I could count on one hand the number of times we weren’t doing something together,” Medders said.
Medders revisited some of the many good times he and Kottkamp shared together and spoke of his unique ability to light up a room simply by “stepping into it.”
Medders expressed gratitude to God for bringing the entire Kottkamp family into his life, adding that he also spent Easter with the family.
Lastly, Medders ended with a single request: “Please do not only mourn his passing. Be joyous and celebrate his life.”
When the eulogies were completed, Jon Slimack read a passage from the book of John, which included words of comfort in the face of the passing of a loved one.
After this reading, there was a short period of reflective silence, so those attending the memorial could contemplate Kottkamp’s life as well as the time they spent with him.
Following the moment of reflection, there was a closing prayer and a reminder that if anyone needed support in this time of grief, they could reach out to any members of the campus ministry or the Ole Miss Counseling Center.
Billy Meyers, counselor at the Ole Miss Counseling Center, came forward to encourage the attendees to stay connected, even if they were only connected by a shared grief at the moment. Additionally, he reminded all that the center’s walk-in hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, though appointments can also be made in advance.
As the service came to a close, those who attended were asked to leave in respectful silence.