West Liberty grieves the death of graduate student Kerry “Ryan” Stith

West Liberty grieves the death of graduate student Kerry “Ryan” Stith

West Liberty University is grieving the loss of one of their graduate students, Kerry “Ryan” Stith, who suddenly died last Wednesday, Oct. 28.

WLU’S News & Media Relations published a press release early in the morning on Oct. 29 stating that there was a 9-1-1 call made later in the evening [on Oct. 28] and Stith was quickly transported to Wheeling Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The release included a quote from President Stephen Greiner who offered his deepest sympathies and condolences. “There is no tragedy greater than the unexpected loss of a young life and we offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and our students, faculty and staff. We are all saddened by this death,” Greiner said. The death does not appear to be related to COVID-19.

Several West Liberty students share their thoughts and feelings regarding the student’s death, with many of them stating a universal sadness for the Stith’s family and the campus community.

“It’s always a shame to lose someone you love. Especially if that someone is very young. I feel for the parents of the student and others who knew him well. My heart goes out to his parents,” said Jacob Ward, senior at West Liberty.

A celebration of life ceremony was held on the quad on Friday, Oct. 30 and Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 at Noon and was hosted by Pastor Debra Dague and Shirly Carter, Director of Catholic Campus Ministry.

The celebration started out with a song by Jeremy Camp, “There Will Be a Day”, and followed by a prayer of peace and comfort for the Stith family and campus community.

Paster Dague reminded everyone who attended the ceremony of the life Stith led. She said that the West Liberty University community will remember Stith as a smart, kind and hardworking student who gave his best at everything he did.

“To see the family come together and make these services come together… That’s what makes WLU so special,” said Pastor Dague after discussing the importance of students coming together.

As the celebration of life came to an end, Stith’s father [Kerry}, who was present through Zoom, shared his thankfulness on behalf of his wife [Ryan’s mother] and himself stating that they were overwhelmed with the outpouring of love from West Liberty University despite that Stith had only been a student at the university for three short months as he was pursuing a master’s degree in Zoo Science.

“I have always said that family is a word that is overused, but over the past few days, I have come to realize that the West Liberty community takes the word family very seriously,” said Kerry Stith.

Both gatherings were held on the quad to stay in accordance with social distancing and face masks were required to be worn at all times, and anyone who was not able to attend the in-person celebration were invited to attend via Zoom.

Junior West Liberty student, Morgan McFadden said, “it is sad that someone so young died. You never think it’s going to happen especially right now.”

Counseling services are available at West Liberty and those who need mental health support while dealing with this loss are encouraged to reach out to WLU’s campus counselor, Liza Witzbereger at 304-336-8215.

For more information, please contact Maureen Zambito at [email protected]