More than 100 students, faculty and administrators traveled to Long Island on Thursday, Feb. 2, to attend a memorial service in honor of Deborah Pearsall, a Lehigh senior who died Jan. 28.
Pearsall, 21, was a former editor of The Brown and White, an orientation leader, a cofounder of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and a former member of Lehigh’s track team. She died in the Hershey Medical Center after suffering two pulmonary embolisms.
The standing-room-only service at Gutterman’s Memorial Chapel in Rockville Center, N.Y., “was a heartfelt expression of love for Debbie and support for her family,” said Lloyd Steffen, university chaplain and professor of religion studies.
“This is a very difficult time for Debbie’s family and many friends,” said Steffen. “But the service allowed for a sharing of grief and a sharing of memories as people who had known and loved her expressed gratitude for the gift of a wonderful life. It is from times of sharing like this that healing comes.”
Sharon Basso, associate vice provost and dean of students, said the mourners seemed to be comforted by the words of Pearsall’s father, Keith, who spoke at the service.
“He really assisted all gathered in the healing process by sharing stories and moments of Debbie’s life that underscored the life of integrity and concern for others that she lived. He also pointed out the important role Lehigh played in Debbie’s life and how the support of the Lehigh family during this difficult time was helpful to them.”
Arlene Erbeck, the mother of Matt Erbeck ‘14, who met Pearsall at an earlier Lehigh gathering and lived near her hometown of Oceanside, N.Y., attended the service, and characterized it as “a wonderful presentation of who she was as a person. She was such an accomplished young woman.”
Lehigh’s office of student affairs provided transportation to Gutterman’s Memorial Chapel in Rockville Center for the 10 a.m. service. Many of those who attended were fellow athletes, sorority members, and Brown and White staffers.
In addition to Steffen and Basso, other representatives of Lehigh included Sue Troyan, Lehigh’s women’s basketball coach; John Smeaton, vice provost for student affairs; and Ed Shupp, university police chief.
A memorial service for the Lehigh community will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in Packer Memorial Church. Pearsall’s parents are expected to attend. All are welcome.