Saab’s life is honored at memorial

In the memorial service held in Sneaky Park Friday for Mazen Walid Saab, mourners were given small white candles to light. Walid Saab, Mazen's father, flew from Lebanon to attend the service and was the first to light his candle. / photo by Jennifer Contreras
In the memorial service held in Sneaky Park Friday for Mazen Walid Saab, mourners were given small white candles to light. Walid Saab, Mazen’s father, flew from Lebanon to attend the service and was the first to light his candle. / photo by Jennifer Contreras

by Tim Tevault
Editorial Director

Nearly 200 University of La Verne students, faculty and staff gathered in Sneaky Park Friday for a memorial service to pay tribute to international student Mazen Walid Saab. The 18 year-old was killed in an auto accident Sept. 9, which also injured three other students, Dro Hovanessian, Michelle Baccus and Ian Thornburn.

Saab’s family and close friends also attended the memorial, which honored Saab as “free spirited,” “welcoming,” and “generous.” To do this, organizers Philip Hofer, international student services director, and Debbie Roberts, campus minister, made candles available to all in attendance to light from a single candle.

“That candle symbolizes that Mazen’s life flows on through us,” Roberts said.

The service opened with a greeting from President Stephen Morgan and was followed by a prayer led by Roberts.

Next was a series of readings from those on campus who knew Saab closest.

“There was something about him that set him aside from everyone else,” said Jenna Campbell, one of Saab’s closest friends. “Because of his personality and charm, I felt like we had been long lost friends.”

Hofer followed Campbell, reading an excerpt from Saab’s application letter to ULV, written December 2001. The letter detailed Saab’s experiences in his home country, Lebanon, and his explicit love for his grandfather, a man he looked up to for guidance.

Speaking after Hofer was Saab’s academic adviser and teacher, Janice Johnson, who also spoke fondly of Saab, and later concluded with a poem written earlier that morning.

“Too little time we shared him here,” she read. “You were ever confident in caring; more than generous in sharing.”

Various other students who knew Saab, like his Scottish neighbor in the dorms, his resident assistant in the Oaks building he lived in, and his orientation week leader, all solemnly took their turn to speak to the crowd.

The candles that were handed out during Mazen Saab's memorial service were symbolic of his life, said Protestant Minister,Debbie Roberts. Many people shared their thoughts and memories about Saab. Prayers and songs were also dedicated in Saab's memory. A small memorial in his honor has been placed on Arrow Highway where the accident occurred. / photo by Jennifer Contreras
The candles that were handed out during Mazen Saab’s memorial service were symbolic of his life, said Protestant Minister Debbie Roberts. Many people shared their thoughts and memories about Saab. Prayers and songs were also dedicated in Saab’s memory. A small memorial in his honor has been placed on Arrow Highway where the accident occurred. / photo by Jennifer Contreras

Each reminisced about specific moments when Saab touched their lives.

After the service, Saab’s family and closest friends were invited to the President’s Dining Room for lunch.

“(The ceremony) was sweet but short,” said freshman Mary Himes, who met Saab during orientation earlier this month. “I thought they depicted him well.”

Rita Thakur, professor of business and economics, called the service “beautiful.”

“He was part of our family,” she said. “I can’t imagine what the father is going through.” According to the program handed out, one of Saab’s goals was to major in business with emphasis on hotel and leisure so he could become chairperson of the Summerland Hotel, which his father owns. This, more than likely, would have meant he would have taken one of Thakur’s classes in the future.

One of Saab’s current professors, Roy Goines, thought the ceremony was “very outstanding. It’s so like this university to do something like that. It shows what a first-class university we have here.”

Goines reflected back on a fond memory of Saab early on in the semester.”When I called roll the first day, I said ‘Mazen Saab,’ like the car? And he said ‘That’s good enough,'” Goines said with a chuckle.

The other victims of the accident, Hovanessian, Baccus and Thornburn, were not forgotten during the service. Roberts asked the crowd to pray for the other students for a speedy recovery.

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