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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Guilford Grieves Loss of Caitlin Lee

Caitlin Lee. ()
Caitlin Lee. ()

On Sunday, July 27, rising junior Caitlin Christine Lee, 20, died from injuries sustained in an automotive accident in Henry County, Ky. Lee, a Nashville native, was returning home from King’s Island amusement park in Ohio with three friends at the time of the accident. Her long-time boyfriend Ryan Keith Williams, 19, and fellow couple Jackson Scott Harris, 19, and Caitlin R. Currey, 18, were also killed in the crash.

A 2006 graduate of Nashville’s East Literature Magnet, Lee was very dedicated to her alma mater and hometown where she was an active member of First Unitarian Universalist Church and worked at the local YMCA. However, Guilford became her second home.

Lee came to Guilford planning to major in computing and technology but found her passion to be elsewhere. She soon declared as a double major in English and elementary education in hopes of teaching fourth-grade.

An active member of the Guilford community, Lee worked on campus as a Phonathon caller and in Hege Library, volunteered at Pathways and contributed to several student organizations including Community AIDS Awareness Project (CAAP). She left an imprint on every organization and department she was a part of.

“(The thing that stood out most about her was) her personality,” said Ellie Puckett, assistant director of annual giving and Phonathon supervisor, who Lee worked for during her first year. “(She was) so friendly and open and non-judgmental. She was pleasant and always had a positive attitude.”

“She was very good at her job,” said Puckett. “She made good connections with alumni and they loved to talk to her.”

“She genuinely cared about everyone,” said Hege Library Circulation Manager Susan McClanahan, who hired Lee during her sophomore year. “She worked well with all her peers because she was interested in them and had such a co-operative spirit.”

Lee was particularly interested in Guilford’s many volunteer opportunities through clubs and Career and Community Learning’s committed volunteer sites.

As a member of the CAAP, Lee volunteered for many events and fundraisers, including Triad Health Project’s Winter Walk and was an integral part in the planning of the Southeastern Student AIDS Summit.

But with dreams of being an elementary school teacher, Lee’s primary volunteer focus was working with children. She regularly volunteered by tutoring children at Pathways, a Greensboro homeless shelter for families.

“Our babies at Pathways loved her and she could put a smile on their faces when we would go tutor,” said sophomore and fellow volunteer Juliet Carrington. “She was a ray of sunshine for them.”

Lee’s love of children was obvious in her choice of summer job this year. She worked this summer as a camp counselor at Nashville YMCA’s Camp Widjiwagan.

At Camp Widji she was known as “Purl” to her group the Buckaroos, the youngest campers, fresh out of kindergarten.

On Aug. 3, dozens of Camp Widji counselors, in their red YMCA t-shirts, lined the walls of First Unitarian Universalist’s sanctuary as Lee’s church held “A Celebration of the Life of Caitlin Christine Lee.”

The memorial service was standing room only as friends, family, classmates, members of the Guilford community and Camp Widji gathered to remember Lee.

“It’s not surprising to me (that it was standing room only) given the type of person she was,” said Puckett who attended the service with McClanahan and Dean of Srtudents Aaron Fetrow.

“It was an honor to be there, to take part in a celebration of her life,” said Fetrow. “They really did play it as a celebration (of her life), there was even some laughter,” said Fetrow. “She would have appreciated that.”

Following the memorial service, Lee’s ashes were interred in the church’s columbarium.

On Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. a candlelight vigil will be held in Lee’s honor on Founders terrace. The following day at 1:30 p.m., a memorial service will be held in the Moon Room.

Three memorial funds have also been set up in Lee’s name and in lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to one of the following:

First Unitarian Universalist Church
c/o Caitlin Lee Memorial Fund
1808 Woodmont Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37215

YMCA Foundation
c/o Caitlin Lee Kids’ Camp Scholarship Fund
900 Church St.
Nashville, TN 37203

Guilford College
c/o Office of Advancement
5800 W. Friendly Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27410

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