- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The mother of a student who was killed in the Virginia Tech shootings said she is getting by with support from people across the country who have sent condolences.

Letitie Clark, whose son, Ryan Clark, of Martinez, Ga., was killed during the April 16 rampage, has received stacks of letters, books and other items sent from across the country.

“I have told everyone I know I’m a blessed woman because I have angels throughout the nation,” Mrs. Clark recently told the Augusta Chronicle in Georgia.

Earlier this month, Mrs. Clark and family members went to Virginia Tech to attend her son’s graduation, accepting on his behalf framed diplomas in English, psychology and biology. She also received her son’s class ring — a gold band with a garnet stone, displaying a “VT” in the center.

Mrs. Clark said she was overwhelmed with support at the graduation ceremonies.

“The reception at Virginia Tech was unbelievable,” she said. “I truly appreciate it.”

Mr. Clark was a resident adviser in the dorm where the shootings began.

At the graduation ceremony, police told Mrs. Clark that her son heard commotion and went to help.

The student whom he ran to protect was Emily Jane Hilscher, the first victim. Mrs. Clark said her family met with Miss Hilscher’s family during the trip.

“They are a beautiful family,” she said. “It went very well. It’s so overwhelming because their pain is as great as mine.”

Seung-hui Cho, a 23-year-old student at Virginia Tech, killed 32 persons before killing himself.

Mrs. Clark emotionally recalled the phone call telling her that something was happening at the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.

“And I turned on the television and heard there had been a shooting in West Ambler Johnston,” she said of the dorm where her son was a resident adviser. “A mother knows her child, and at that instant, I knew something wasn’t right … and I know if at all possible, he would have contacted me.”

Mrs. Clark said her son would check in each week by phone or through an “I love you” text message. She had last spoken with him the Sunday before the shootings.

But this time, she said, there were no messages, and Mrs. Clark’s call to her son’s dorm room added to her fears because his message box was full.

A county official later informed her of her son’s death.

Since then, Mrs. Clark said, the local community has continued to show its support.

The company QT Productions recently started a Ryan Clark Scholarship of Excellence for college-bound high-school seniors. The first recipient of the $3,500 scholarship, awarded Sunday, was Lakeside High senior Steven Puryear, who plans to attend Augusta State University this fall.

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