Service held in memory of Kendra Bowers

Students and faculty alike joined together Tuesday to celebrate the life of Kendra Bowers.

The memorial service opened with remarks from Annie Stevens, vice provost of student affairs.

She began by thanking the attendees and said that although she did not know Bowers personally, she had heard her described as fearless, loving, sassy and zesty.

As an environmental studies major, Bowers was called the “green police” by her family, Stevens said. 

She then cited Bowers’ favorite quote from Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.” 

Alan Strong of the Rubenstein School for environmental studies spoke next. 

He asked those in attendance, “What are we going to do with those Kendra sized holes in our lives? 

“As Kendra would have wanted, go out and take care of the world,” he said.

Music was a huge part of Bowers’ life, Strong said.

He concluded speaking with lyrics from one of Bowers’ favorite songs, “Let it Be” by the Beatles.

Bowers was part of the a cappella group Zest. 

Members of the group sat in the first row at the service to honor Bowers. 

Bowers was a crucial part of this singing group, sophomore Zest member Ceara Ledwith said. 

“She was always the life of the party. She was the life of our rehearsals. She was not just the voice of our group. She was a huge part of us in general,” Ledwith said. 

Ledwith and Bowers ran the PR for Zest together where Bowers was in charge of social media.

“Everything you see on Zest’s Facebook and Instagram up to this point was her,” Ledwith said. 

Ledwith spoke about how she and Bowers got to know each other.  Bowers always had a presence around her, and she was always extremely welcoming to everybody, she said.

Bowers took her aside one day and said, “You have a big personality. I have a big personality. We’re going to have to work on that.” 

Sophomore Natalie Crowley said that Bowers unique.

“She was beautiful and really happy. Always Happy,” Crowley said. 

Britt LeBaron-Brien, Bowers’ roommate, brought a red bucket to the podium before she began her remarks. 

She said that Kendra would be mad if she knew people were wasting one more moment being sad. She then brought a large rock out of the bucket and held it up. 

LeBaron-Brien told the story of when Kendra came into their room holding a rock and exclaimed, “Britt! Look at this! It’s a perfect rock! I can use it as a bookend.”

The story had the audience erupting in laughter. S

he went on to say that Kendra lives on in her favorite places.

“She’s in her favorite patch of trees on Redstone. She’s in the Marche on Saturday morning wearing her penguin pajamas. She’s in her environmental studies class looking a bit too dressed up. She’s at every Fiji party in every room,” she said. 

A video was then presented  with messages from Kendra’s friends.

The first person in the video told of how Kendra made her stop to admire the sunset as they were walking downtown one evening. 

Others described Kendra as hysterical. 

They said she could turn a routine thing, like brushing one’s teeth, into a good time. 

Zest sang “Lean on Me”, some of them through tears, before the podium was opened for remarks from members of the audience. 

About 20 people got up one by one to share their stories about Kendra. 

Stevens closed the ceremony with a message from Kendra’s family.

The family was stunned by the outpouring of sympathy and condolences from the UVM community. 

They also thanked Zest for attending Kendra’s funeral service in Rhode Island. 

While Kendra was only in her second year, it was clear that the reach of her energy and persona had an impact beyond her status, according to the family’s message.

“In her brief time with us, Kendra challenged us to be better. As Kendra did, we encourage you to be yourself and live your life to the fullest,” the message read. “Make a difference. Make a friend, love children, babysit and share yourself with others.”

The family’s message continued. 

“In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘Do one thing every day that scares you.’ Step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself to perform better, try things you have not, whether a food, a sport, a musical instrument,” the message said. “Find something you like and work at it. Kendra’s laugh and sunny spirit illuminated our lives. She will forever be in our hearts.”

Attendees could then leave a message on a poster. 

Ledwyth wrote: “The most wasted day is that in which we have not laughed. Your smile, your laugh and your spirit will remain with me forever. Love Cara, stay Zesty.”