November 26, 2020

Family travels to St. Louis to attend son’s memorial

KAT MYERS / The Journal Max Reid, a senior film production major, writes a message after the memorial service for Thomas Carter Flueckiger April 21 at the Community Music School.

(Webster Groves, MO, April 27, 2011) A large photo of Thomas Carter Flueckiger rested on an easel on the Browning stage in front of a decorated set for the Conservatory’s play, “The Government Inspector.” In the photo, Flueckiger is wearing a bright teal shirt. Teal was one of his favorite colors.  Friends of the late Flueckiger wore various colors of blue during the celebration of his life in the Loretto-Hilton Theatre.

“We are coordinating with Thomas today,” said Conservatory Chair Dottie Marshall Englis, who wore a blue velvet jacket.

Englis and Conservatory students put on the Celebration of the Life of Thomas Carter Flueckiger on April 21. The celebration was a chance for students and faculty to remember Flueckiger on campus.

Flueckiger’s parents traveled from their home in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the celebration.
President Elizabeth Stroble shared the thoughts of John Wylie, a theater professor of Flueckiger’s, who said, “Thomas Carter brought a sparkle to the place.”

“Our hearts are broken at the thought of Carter’s life ending so soon,” Stroble said. “We gather today as a grieving community. We support each other and we must go on in peace. That is how we will remember Thomas Carter Flueckiger. He was our delight and he did bring a sparkle to this place. And it’s up to all of us to keep that sparkle bright in our hearts and in the place.”

Prior to the celebration, a memory box sat in the Conservatory’s production studio where people could write their memories of Flueckiger. Some of those memories were shared at the celebration.
Katie Stepanek, a third year lighting design major, read three memories from the box.

“I remember when Thomas called me everyday at 7 a.m. for a week just to see if I wanted to meet him for breakfast and take him to ArtMart,” Stepanek read. “It sparked a new tradition of breakfast and homework at horribly early hours in the morning, but waking up was always worth it for the random breakfast choices he made. Subway for breakfast? It was crazy, but of course, he loved it.”

Afterwards a slideshow donated by Flueckiger’s parents projected on a screen as a cello player, Maura Reinhart, played an assortment of Bach and The Beatles’, “Yesterday.”

A photo of Flueckiger as a toddler projected. He’s a little boy with platinum blond hair and his blue eyes are covered by round sunglasses which rest on his chubby cheeks. He rests against a white stool in a tie, navy cardigan and white dress pants.The crowd laughs at his cuteness. Moments later, a photo of Flueckiger projects of him standing in front of the Loretto-Hilton Center wearing a gray Webster University T-shirt.

Later, Stefan Azizi, a freshman technical director, shared his favorite memories with Flueckiger.
Azizi’s favorite memories of Flueckiger are those of them debating in the late hours of the night. One debate was about the differences between their watches. It was the only argument, Azizi said, in which there was a distinct winner.

“I will now admit that his watch can dive fifteen-hundred and something feet lower in the ocean than mine,” Azizi said.
Kyra Bishop and Myra Giorgi, two of Flueckiger’s best friends, took the stage after the slideshow. Bishop regaled the plot of “The Little Prince,” a story about a World War II pilot who is stranded in a desert where he meets the little prince who gives him a new perspective on life. Bishop said Flueckiger was like the little prince to her; Flueckiger taught her to explore, dream, dare and live — not just to survive.

“There was a time for tears, but now I’m trying the glass half-full approach, realizing how lucky I was to know him at all and knowing that I will never take amazing friendships for granted,” Bishop said.

Giorgi announced a photo collage to commemorate Flueckiger would be hung in the production studio. She encouraged the audience to share photos and images of Flueckiger that, when pieced together, would form his face.
After more memories were shared, Englis spoke. Englis discussed how students have approached her asking, “Why did this have to happen? Why to this person?”

“I think the only conclusion we’ve come up with in our discussions is that it teaches us not to take the positive for granted and to value someone who is wonderful and tell them that you value them when they’re in front of you,” Englis said. “I think we’re all going to carry that belief forward in our lives.”

After the celebration Flueckiger’s parents, Bryan and Mary Ann, thanked Thomas Flueckiger’s friends, classmates and professors. People could also donate to the Thomas Flueckiger fund for scholarships.

“It just reinforces why he was so happy here,” Bryan Flueckiger said. “For us to come here and be a part of this is a part of our process — a part of our grieving.”

The Flueckigers remember Thomas Flueckiger’s strength during his final weeks in the hospital. When he could speak, Bryan Flueckiger said Thomas’ words were of appreciation.

“The oncologist had never seen anyone as brave and as strong,” Bryan Flueckiger said. “That’s what we saw his whole life.”
The Flueckigers remember their son as a passionate person, especially when he found theater and his Conservatory friends.

“When he felt strongly about something he put his heart into it,” Bryan Flueckiger said. “I would like people to know he was the kind of guy they would have liked.”

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