- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brian Bluhm

Mr. Bluhm, 25, was an avid fan of the Detroit Tigers, which announced his death before Tuesday’s baseball game against Kansas City. Detroit won the game, 7-6.

“He went to a game last weekend and saw them win, and I’m glad he did,” said Mr. Bluhm’s close friend, Michael Marshall of Richmond.

Mr. Bluhm earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech and was pursuing a master’s degree in water resources. He was getting ready to defend his thesis and already had accepted a job in Baltimore, Mr. Marshall said.

Mr. Bluhm moved from Iowa to Detroit to Louisville, Ky., before attending Virginia Tech. His parents moved to Winchester, Va., while he was in school, so Virginia became his real home, Mr. Marshall said.

He also loved the Hokies, and a close group of friends often traveled to see football games when the team was on the road. But Mr. Marshall said it was his faith and work with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries that his friend loved most.

“Brian was a Christian, and first and foremost that’s what he would want to be remembered as,” Mr. Marshall said.

Austin Cloyd

Miss Cloyd, 18, an international studies major from Blacksburg, Va., was so inspired by an Appalachian service project that helped rehabilitate houses that she and her mother started a similar program in their Illinois town, her former pastor said.

The Cloyds were active members of the First United Methodist Church in Champaign, Ill., before moving to Blacksburg in 2005, the Rev. Terry Harter said. The family moved when Miss Cloyd’s father, C. Bryan Cloyd, took a job in the accounting department at Virginia Tech, Mr. Harter said.

Mr. Harter, whose church held a prayer service for the family Tuesday night, described Miss Cloyd as a “very delightful, intelligent, warm young lady” and an athlete who played basketball and volleyball in high school. But it was the mission trips to Appalachia that showed just how caring and faithful she was, he said.

“It made an important impact on her life, that’s the kind of person she was,” he said.

Matthew G. Gwaltney

Mr. Gwaltney, 24, was on the brink of finishing his graduate degree in civil and environmental engineering and planning to return to his hometown of Chester, Va., for a new job and to be near his parents.

His father, Greg Gwaltney, said the student was attending Virginia Tech on a fellowship.

Mr. Gwaltney was completing his thesis on methods of predicting drought and already had several job offers from engineering firms.

He was an avid Hokies sports fan; his favorite place on campus was Cassell Coliseum.

Mr. Gwaltney was sports editor at the Thomas Dale High School newspaper. Principal Robert Stansberry said he was also named “Best guy to take home to your parents.”

Henry J. Lee

Mr. Lee, 20, also known as Henh Ly, was the ninth of 10 siblings whose family fled to the United States from Vietnam, arriving in Roanoke in 1994. Friends described the diminutive Mr. Lee, a first-year computer engineering major, as a serious student who wasn’t necessarily a serious person.

Nathan Spady, a classmate who lived in his residence hall, described Mr. Lee as “an extremely bubbly guy, always ready to go.”

Friends continued to post hundreds of messages and remembrances on his Facebook page since he was fatally shot.

William Fleming High School planned a memorial service for Mr. Lee on Sunday. Principal Susan Lawyer Willis told the Roanoke Times that Mr. Lee was the school’s salutatorian in 2006, and brought many in the audience to tears with his story about his family’s journey to America.

Partahi Lumbantoruan

Mr. Lumbantoruan, 34, a doctoral student from Indonesia, had been studying civil engineering at Virginia Tech for three years, said his father, Tohom Lumbantoruan.

He said they sold off property and cars to pay his tuition and that his goal was to become a teacher.

“We tried everything to completely finance his studies in the United States,” he said. “We only wanted him to succeed in his studies, but … he met a tragic fate.”

His stepmother, Sugiyarti, said he called almost daily to talk to his family. In their last conversation, he had asked for the latest news on Indonesian politics.

“Why can people bring guns to campus?” she asked, weeping. “How is it possible that so many innocent people could be killed? How could it happen?”

An aunt, Christina Panjaitan, said her nephew was hardworking, intelligent and never complained. “He told me he wanted to teach in America,” she said.

Family members were planning a public burial in Jakarta.

Lauren McCain

Miss McCain, 20, listed “the love of my life” as Jesus Christ on her MySpace Web page.

Her Hampton, Va., family said the international studies major was a devout Christian.

“Her life … has been filled with His love that continued to overflow to touch everyone who knew her,” the family said.

Her uncle, Jeff Elliott, told the Oklahoman newspaper that she was an avid reader, was learning German and had almost mastered Latin. She was home-schooled, he said, and had worked at a department store for about a year to save money for college.

Suzanne Becker, an 18-year-old freshman from Lynchburg, Va., met Miss McCain through Campus Crusade for Christ at the beginning of the school year and quickly became friends with the “very bubbly” blonde who always made her smile.

“She had a heart for God, and it was so evident in her life,” she said.

Miss McCain was very active in the Restoration Church-Phoebus Baptist in Hampton.

“She lived the life,” Miss Becker said. “She didn’t just talk about the Lord, she lived for Him. She was the person that came alongside others and was a comfort and encouragement to them in their walk with the Lord.”

Juan Ramon Ortiz

Mr. Ortiz, 26, who was from Puerto Rico, was teaching a class as part of his graduate program in civil engineering at Virginia Tech.

The family’s neighbors in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon remembered Mr. Ortiz as a quiet, dedicated son who decorated his parents’ one-story concrete house each Christmas and played in a salsa band with his father on weekends.

“He was an extraordinary son, what any father would have wanted,” said Mr. Ortiz’s father, also named Juan Ramon Ortiz.

Marilys Alvarez, 22, heard Mr. Ortiz’s mother scream from the house next door when she learned of her son’s death. She said she had wanted to study in the United States, but was now reconsidering.

“Here the violence is bad, but you don’t see that,” she said. “It’s really sad. You can’t go anywhere now.”

Minal Panchal

Miss Panchal, 26, wanted to be an architect like her father, who died four years ago.

She was eager to go to the U.S. for postgraduate study and was thrilled when she gained admission to Virginia Tech last year, said Chetna Parekh, a friend who lives in the bustling middle-class Bombay neighborhood of Borivali, where Miss Panchal lived before attending Virginia Tech. “She was a brilliant student and very hardworking. She was focused on getting her degree and doing well.”

Miss Panchal was worried about her mother, Hansa, living alone and wanted her to come to the United States, neighbor Jayshree Ajmane said. Mrs. Hansa left earlier this month for New Jersey, where her sister and brother-in-law live.

Miss Panchal was described as a bright, polite girl who would help neighborhood children with their schoolwork.

Michael Pohle

Mr. Pohle, 23, of Flemington, N.J., was expected to graduate in a few weeks with a degree in biological sciences, said Craig Blanton, Hunterdon Central Regional High School’s vice principal during the 2002 school year, when Mr. Pohle graduated.

“He had a bunch of job interviews and was all set to start his post-college life,” Mr. Blanton told the Star-Ledger of Newark.

At the high school, Mr. Pohle played on the football and lacrosse teams.

One of his old lacrosse coaches, Bob Shroeder, described him as “a good kid who did everything that good kids do.”

“He tried to please,” Mr. Shroeder told the newspaper. “He was just a great kid.”

Julia Pryde

Miss Pryde, 23, a graduate student from Middletown, N.J., was an “exceptional student academically and personally,” said Saied Mostaghimi, chairman of the biological systems and engineering department where Miss Pryde was seeking her master’s degree.

“She was the nicest person you ever met,” Mr. Mostaghimi told the Star-Ledger of Newark.

The previous summer, Miss Pryde had traveled to Ecuador to research water-quality issues with a professor. She planned to return this summer for follow-up work, Mr. Mostaghimi said.

A 2001 graduate of Middletown North High School, Miss Pryde was on the school’s swim team and played softball in two town leagues.

Her hometown has been touched by tragedy before, losing 37 residents and former residents in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The town pulls together in these situations. Everything that we can do for this family, we’ll see what can be done,” Middletown Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger said.

Waleed Mohammed Shaalan

Mr. Shaalan, 32, of Zagazig, Egypt, was a doctoral candidate in civil engineering, the university said.

His roommate, Fahad Pasha, said Mr. Shaalan was married and the father of a 1-year-old son.

Mr. Pasha said Mr. Shaalan was like a big brother to him. Mr. Pasha’s family moved to the U.S. from the United Arab Emirates in 2000, so he and Mr. Shaalan had many discussions about being in a new country.

Mr. Shaalan came to Virginia Tech to work with G.V. Loganathan, an engineering professor who also was killed in Monday’s massacre, Mr. Pasha and other friends said.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the Egyptian Embassy in Washington was taking necessary measures to fly his body home.

Leslie Sherman

Miss Sherman, 20, an avid traveler, was headed to Russia this summer to study, said her grandmother, Gerry Adams.

Miss Sherman, a sophomore history and international studies student from Springfield, had visited Boston and London with her mother, Mrs. Adams said. Miss Sherman visited her grandparents in Kennewick, Wash., last month for spring break, she said.

Miss Sherman — who was named after her grandfather, Leslie — loved reading and socializing with her “gaggle” of more than 15 cousins spread out at colleges across the country, Mrs. Adams said. She text-messaged one of them the evening before she died.

“She was so happy. Life was going so well for her,” said Mrs. Adams, who described the family as “just beside themselves” with grief.

Nicole White

Miss White, 20, graduated from Smithfield High School in 2004, according to the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

Miss White, a international studies major, worked at a YMCA as a lifeguard and was an honor student in high school, the newspaper reported.

Her family planned to hold a press conference today in Suffolk, Va.



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