Whether he was unsuccessfully attempting to dye his hair red with Kool-Aid or writing interesting words he heard that day all over his hands and arms, Michael Robertson kept his friends laughing.
Robertson's friends continued to laugh as they gathered in the Whitehurst Living Room last Thursday to share stories and memories about "Kel" at an informal memorial service.
Robertson, 20, who transferred to Boston University for his sophomore year, fell four stories to his death from his dormitory window on Jan. 21. The Boston Police Department has ruled it an accident.
Deans from Richmond and Westhampton colleges, Counseling and Psychological Services director Peter O. LeViness, University Police Lt. Adrienne Meador and Vice President for Student Development Steve Bisese all attended the memorial service to listen to and support the students.
Kate O'Dwyer Randall, the acting chaplain of the university, was also in attendance. She encouraged any student to stop by and talk.
"Even though we're in the Office of the Chaplaincy, we don't have to talk about God," she said. She stressed the importance of what she called "withness" during the grieving process.
LeViness also spoke about ways of dealing with grief. He said discussion was therapeutic and CAPS was available to any students struggling with grief.
"Be patient with yourselves," he said, adding that there is no set standard for dealing with death.
Bisese said he felt good about what happened at the memorial service. He said the service gave him a real sense of Robertson's personality and why he is missed. "Even though he was at another school, I can't not think about it a little each day," he said.
Bisese also said that interim Richmond College Dean Dan Fabian was collecting any photos and memories from students to send to the family.
"We all know this is very sad and unexplainable, but it was apparent that Michael made a difference in the lives of our students, those at BU and his family and close friends," Bisese said.
While at Richmond, Robertson worked at the 8:15 at Boatwright coffee shop. His friends said he loved the job because he got to talk to everyone and had a chance to make them laugh.
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"He was goofy, you know?" said sophomore Shannon Birk, who was friends with Robertson. "He just got along with everyone."
Robertson's friends said his sense of humor and penchant for pranks drew people to him.
Robertson's roommate from last year, sophomore Will Lambdin, also spoke of his sense of humor and quirkiness.
"Kel was the only person that would watch all those stupid late-night TV shows with me," he said. "He loved Nickelodeon."
There were plenty of stories that had everyone in attendance laughing. One time, Lambdin said, Robertson replaced the words of a Nirvana song with items from a Chinese food menu.
His friends commented on his talents as an artist and a writer and called him "a really creative guy." He frequently would pitch his ideas for commercials to his friends. In the freshman Faces book, he listed journalism as one of his interests, and his Facebook profile interests included guitar, air hockey and reading The Onion.
Robertson lived in Demarest, N.J. His father, Dave Robertson, said his son enjoyed sitting by Westhampton Lake.
"I know that he met a lot of good friends at Richmond," Dave Robertson said. Birk said Robertson's decision to transfer to BU was a difficult one, but he was happy there.
In honor of their son, the Robertsons have set up an annual fund called The Michael Robertson Charitable Foundation.
The idea came from a family friend, Dave Robertson said. At the end of every year, the Robertsons will take money from the fund and donate it to a cause their son supported. Dave Robertson mentioned giving to libraries in need of books, schools lacking the resources for adequate music programs and shelters for abused animals. He said the fund was already growing.
"We're going to try to do what he wanted us to do with it," he said. "The possibilities are endless"
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