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Lanie's family requests you send your tributes by email to patty@henricocitizen.com


George Throop dedicated the leg of his Walk of Inspiration to Bicycle & Pedestrian Awareness. Thanks for doing what you do & being who you are, George Throop. It was great meeting you! 'Til our paths cross again. - Daniel.


Lanie Kruszewski

Just over three weeks ago, a very sharp piece of glass stabbed into my left foot on the side of Richmond�s River Road. This has become perhaps the most fascinating single story of all my 4,500 miles. Here�s what happened:

On my way into Richmond, I�d heard the story of a young lady who last summer had been the victim of a tragic hit-and-run incident on Richmond�s River Road. She was on her way home from work shortly after dark, was following all the rules of the road, and was adorned with multiple blinking bicycle lights. Sadly, she did not survive the incident.

I�d heard her story, yet didn�t even know her name. Nonetheless, I detected a very powerful sensation upon reaching her white bicycle (�ghost bike�) memorial on River Road, and I stopped to meditate for several minutes. Through the concluding minutes of the meditation, I felt a very powerful energy flowing through me. A very bright, wordless message told me to be strong, be prepared for what will continue to unfold of this life (challenges and all), and with every experience, to do my part to create a better, brighter world for all. (In addition to all others, I too have 100% of the potential to do all of the above.) This was a message for me-- but not only me-- it is a message for you too.

After several minutes of clutching the handlebars, eyes closed, I stepped back behind the ghost bike, bowed in divine gratitude and strength, turned forward, bowed to the road ahead, and then-- fully energized-- strongly stepped forward. I didn�t even make it seven steps before feeling the sensation of some sharp, earth-residing object stabbing deeply into my left foot. Before looking, I was hoping that it had felt scarier than it would appear, but as soon as I looked down, I found a deep laceration, foot and sandal full of blood. An empty, partially shattered glass vase was resting near the bike, and I hadn�t seen it before feeling it.

I stepped off to the side of the road, sat down on the earth, assessed the wound, applied pressure, and telephoned Chris & Sally, who were hosting me over Cinco de Mayo weekend. Chris came out immediately and took me to a nearby hospital, where I ended up spending hours in the E.R., leaving only after receiving a grand total of seven stitches.

Though happy satisfaction isn�t the first emotion I felt upon first seeing my blood-soaked foot, I�ve been forced to overcome so many unforeseen hurdles across the thousands of miles, that I knew this would simply be one more. And as has been the case with all of life�s challenges, as Rumi writes: �the wound is the place the light enters.�

Sitting in the hospital E.R. that afternoon, awaiting my stitches, I felt the urge to learn more about the young bicyclist who�d lost her life. What was her name? What was the story? Who was her family? What was the follow-up?

Getting busy on Google, I learned the story of Lanie Kruszewski, age 24, who lost her life on the evening of Sunday, July 29, 2012, while bicycling home from her restaurant job. The driver initially fled the scene, yet was later identified, tried and convicted by a jury, and is awaiting a probable three-year sentence for felony hit and run. Friends & community have come to strongly support the Kruszewski Family in the wake of this tragedy. I found a website created by her Uncle Tim, with over a dozen pics. I found pics of Lanie, her mother, and her two older sisters. And, most compelling, I found a column written last November by her mother, Patty, as the family was preparing for the coming holidays without their youngest.


Here�s the final portion of Patty K�s column, �A time to give thanks - no joke� (full link below):

�...A JMU student I have never met recently wrote to say that the campaign to improve cyclist safety has reached all the way to Harrisonburg � and to suggest that Lanie�s death may have already saved other lives.

The list of kindnesses goes on, and on, and on.

In no way do I mean to downplay the pain and devastation this tragedy has wrought upon our family, or to deny that there are times I despair of surviving another day in the void Lanie left � or another night of accident images playing non-stop through my head. Her death can never be regarded as anything other than a horrible waste of a life, and any good that may result can only make it slightly less of a waste.

But I have been in this crazy cycle of grief long enough to know now that my worst nights are invariably followed by better days, new encounters, new kindnesses and new blessings.

Like any parent, I would have given anything for the choice to take Lanie�s place on that bike, and to allow her to live her life to its natural end.

I didn�t get that choice. But there are other equally unchosen paths that I would have taken right to the place I am now.

If someone had asked me long ago whether I would choose to be Lanie�s mom � knowing she would only live 24 years, and that I would have to go through this terrible, wrenching pain � my answer would be, �Hell, yes.�

And if I�d been given the choice to have Lanie for 24 years, or to have someone else for a lifetime, I would have chosen Lanie in a heartbeat.

And for the gift of those years, I can�t help but be thankful.�

http://www.henricocitizen.com/index.php/Opinions/article/a_time_to_give_thanks_no_joke1118

The words of Lanie�s mother, Patty Kruszewski, really spiritually resonated with me. I had to write to her. A few short days later, I spent a couple of hours carefully creating the introductory message I wanted to Patty Kruszewski, and she responded to me within hours.

A handful of days later, I met Patty Kruszewski, in addition to Leah & Jackie, Lanie�s sisters, and Daniel, Lanie�s boyfriend. I spent half the day with them.

I asked them if they�d like to join me from Lanie�s ghost bike memorial, and walk a few miles with me, once my foot was ready to do so. Patty, Daniel, and Leah were all available to do so, and joined me this Memorial Day weekend for seven sunny miles from Lanie�s ghost bike, walking up into Henrico County. I devoted the day�s walk to bicyclist & pedestrian safety, paying homage to Lanie�s enduring spirit across our steps.

I�ve come to spend plenty of time with Patty these past couple of weeks, even accepting her kind hosting offer these past five nights, in the home where the Kruszewski children grew up.

�Lanie bit you,� Patty K tells me, as I acknowledge that we were meant to meet. A big part of me would like to spend several more weeks with Patty & family before departing from Richmond.

As I prepare to slowly sew up these final mile hundred miles to Washington, D.C., I couldn�t be more touched at the magic of the amazing new friendships with Patty, Daniel, Leah & Jackie... I�m not sure just how soon, but our paths will be crossing again ~


2/14/13
Patty, I�ve been following the trial over here, and, even though it's probably only a small consolation, I�m so glad that justice was served. I hope that you and your family have been getting through this okay. I think of you and of Lanie often. There are bikers all over London, and every time I see one I think of her.
I thought that because Lanie was such an amazing person, writing about her would be easy. It's turned out to be extremely difficult because of that exact reason. I wanted to write something perfect until I realized that are no words that will ever be able to really capture just how special Lanie was or how she touched my life and so many others. The most I can do is share some of my favorite memories of her and tell you that I owe so much of who I am today to Lanie's influence.
I recently reread a letter that I wrote to my future self for an English assignment in ninth grade. Most of it was trivial, but there was one part that has stayed true. In the middle of the letter I had written, �Lanie is my hero�. And she truly was my hero. From the day I met her that has never changed. The way that she approached every situation as a potential new adventure to experience has inspired me in so many ways. Whenever I was around Lanie, her incredible passion and dedication made me want to be better. A better athlete, a better cook, a better person. She introduced me to much of the music that I still listen to and taught me the art of creating the perfect mix cd. I played field hockey mainly because she played field hockey. After seeing how much Lanie loved the game, I had to try it out. She stayed late after soccer practices and spent time during the summer teaching me how to play, and I know I made the team largely because of her. When I think of Lanie, there are a few memories that always come to mind. They�re small things, but for some reason they stick out to me. I think that�s because she had a way of fully enjoying life�s small moments, whether it was the endorphins from an early morning run or the way an amazing song can make you feel. The first memory I have of Lanie is from high school, when she was a junior and I was a freshman, nervous about trying out for the soccer team. We were running down Monument Avenue at one of the first practices, and somehow started talking about music. Lanie immediately put me at ease, and when we both expressed our love for the band the New Pornographers I knew I wanted to be friends with her. She seemed to have this way of making everyone she met feel comfortable immediately.
Whenever I think of a good day, there�s one day in particular that I think of. I�m pretty sure it was a Wednesday, my freshman year of high school. Lanie and I ran to Carytown after school, ate snacks in the athletic hallway, and topped it all off with seeing Ted Leo and the Pharmacists play at the Nancy Raygun. The individual events themselves aren�t out of the ordinary, but Lanie had a way of making ordinary things fun and exciting so that even now, over seven years later, I still count it as one of my best memories. I think she always knew that the combination of exercise, good food, and good music was the key to true happiness.
I�ll always remember the morning runs before school. I am in no way a morning person, yet somehow it was easy to say yes whenever she suggested getting to school at 7 am to run around the neighborhood. And I�m so grateful that I got myself out of bed for that. The miles never seemed as long when they were filled talking to Lanie about concerts to see, albums to download, and the next food adventure. I remember walking to Starbucks with her one morning before school and talking about a history essay contest that I was thinking about entering, but I was nervous because I didn�t want to fail. Lanie encouraged me to do it, if only to prove to myself that I could. I spent an entire summer researching and writing, and she encouraged me along the way. Winning that contest was one of my proudest achievements, and if it wasn�t for Lanie, I don�t think I would have even entered. I have so much to thank Lanie for.
  • For teaching me to risk failure. For being my concert buddy and cementing my love of music.
  • For being hilarious and sarcastic and making me laugh at lunch every single day.
  • For being my friend.
  • For being my hero.

Corinne Ridderhof


10/23/12
Mrs. Kruszewski, I wanted to extend my belated condolences to you and your family. I learned of Lanie's passing in the fatal hit-and-run accident the morning after it happened.

It seems odd how one story can intertwine its way into your life and how far reaching her influence can be. I was on my way home from my girlfriend's house in Mechanicsville, back over to my house in Stony Point on the night that Lanie was taken from us. I remember turning on Cary Street and heading towards the Huguenot Bridge and seeing blue lights in my rear view mirror. As any college student with a lead foot might, I assumed it was me, I pulled over to the side and he zipped around me. As I neared the intersection of Three Chopt and Cary, the cop sat there with his lights on, blocking Cary Street. This was my first moment when Lanie influenced me. When I learned of her tragic passing the next morning, I was surprised that that very same night I had been heading down that same road. I had wished I had been driving back earlier, been there, to call 9-1-1, to perform CPR, to get the plates of the car that hit her. I was even more saddened to learn that Lanie was a fellow JMU Duke. As an avid member of the JMU Triathlon Club and a cyclist in Harrisonburg, I was inspired to practice the safest bicycling habits possible.

Tonight, as I was riding home from a friend's house, I forgot to turn on my front and rear safety lights. Usually I have them on before I even walk out my front door, but tonight I forgot under the illumination of the street lamps in Harrisonburg. I had not even gone a block from my friend's house before those same blue lights I remembered from the night of her accident were reflecting off of the pavement at me. I slowed down and pulled my bike to the side of the road. The officer approached me, and questioned me about my safety lights. I quickly realized my mistake and demonstrated their functioning to him. He mentioned that if was a safety thing that was being pushed by powers even higher up than simply the Harrisonburg Police Department. As I was riding home, I realized that this must be Lanie's presence staying with the cycling community. Even though it is only a couple blocks from my friends place to mine, I could very easily have been a traffic injury or fatality.

While I know that nothing can be said or done to bring your daughter back, I can think that at some level she is a beacon of light for all of us. It would be easy for cyclists to become afraid and fear for our lives every time we head out for a ride. But the truth is that many people rely on bikes as a form of transportation. It is important that all forces combine to keep cyclists as safe as possible. This officer pulling me over was a blessing.

Like I said, I believe that fate is a powerful force for all of us. I wish I had been there. I wish I could have prevented it. I wish that this had never had to happen. But it is comforting to know that her spirit serves as such a guiding force for the future and safety of other cyclists everywhere. One of my favorite lyrics from the Broadway musical Wicked states, "I've heard it said, that people come into our lives, for a reason...". I truly believe that this is the powerful effect your daughter's life and memory will leave in all of us. Like a pebble dropped into a clear, still pond, her life and memory will continually ripple and affect so many.

I apologize for my windedness, but I understand how devastating loss can be and how sometimes the light is hard to see through the storm. But I wanted you to know how, even never having met your daughter, I can say that she has influenced me. Your daughter was and is a blessing to so many people. I just wanted to share with you my story of how Lanie has affected me, as her spirit and memory lives on.

God bless,

Philip


8/1/12
Beautiful Lanie, What I really want to say to you is thank you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life for a little while. For geeking out with me about silly things like The Hunger Games, and letting me go on and on about how awesome Hogwarts is at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Thank you for treating me like a friend from the first time I met you and for not having pre-conceived notions about me. For making Mint Julep ice cream after my trip to Kentucky. For spending the Saturday after your birthday celebration helping us move, even though you had to work that afternoon. And for not complaining once about it, rain and all! Thank you for making me want to be like you when I grow up, even though I am 13 years older than you. And most of all, thank you for loving my dear friend Daniel and bringing him sunshine and positivity and beauty and joy on a daily basis. I am so grateful that you loved him and he loved you back, and that I had the privilege to witness the kindness, respect, and affection you shared. Thank you for being you, Lanie, every day. Kri Marcum


8/12/12
Hi Patty, You know, one time Lanie and I were talking about books and she said to me "I don't care what people think. I read Twilight, I read the Hunger Games. I liked them...and I'm not sorry." Ha! You have no idea how much book guilt that conversation took off my shoulders. I was like, "Yeah, that's right! Who cares if I liked Twilight?! I'm still smart and cool!" She totally liberated me. :) I know that I was blessed to have Lanie in my life, even though it was for not even a year. She made me think about what I did in my daily life and how to live more fully, like her. She still does. I truly admire her and I know that she will continue to inspire and have a positive impact on my life. Thank you for raising such a beautiful soul. Any words of consolation I may have wouldn't change anything, I know. So instead, let me just say much love to you and your family, and much love to Lanie...always. Kri


7/30/12 Our Beloved Lanie

Hi Patty and Jackie, I just heard about your loss when my good friend, Dawn Grois, called me this afternoon. I was stunned, numb.
Though I love all my students, some make the job of loving them easier than others. Lanie was one of those. I have been thinking about her a lot lately -- over the past few months. I wrote a letter of recommendation for her. She was considering going to Columbia University. I think she fell in love with New York while she was at the culinary institute.
I would like to share with you the letter that I wrote. Lanie was really special. Not only was she smart, but she was kind and sensitive to the needs of others. I feel so blessed to have taught her and I can't believe that she is gone.
Patty, you have two lovely daughters that I have had the pleasure of knowing, so this must be in part because you did something very right. You were there on the night of Lanie's graduation when she chose to see me do my first public reading of "Penelope" -- from James Joyce's Ulysses. It was her graduation night and she decided to forgo events with her peers to come support me at my debut at Cafe Gutenberg. My father, John Adams, knew you. He died a year ago July 25th. I know that he knew you. My father was the more outgoing member of the family; as my mother said when I called her today, "He knew everybody at church."
I wish that I could find some words to make you feel better -- to make all of us feel better. My husband and I are getting ready to leave for Myrtle Beach tomorrow -- for an 11-day vacation. I want you to know that my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Lanie, as you know, was easy to love. We are all blessed for having known her. Please feel free to contact me, if and when you are ready. I hope the words in my heart-felt letter of recommendation give you some solace and maybe even a moment of joy. My heartfelt sympathy and love, Cynthia Losen

12/11/06 To Whom It May Concern:

This is a letter of recommendation for Lanie Kruszewski. I didn�t think twice when Lanie asked for a letter. I knew it would be one of those letters that would practically write itself. Even though I teach in a public high school for gifted students, this does not happen with all the letters I write. Most of our students are bright and highly motivated. Not many have the kind of appeal that Lanie has, however. She seems to fit in anywhere. Maybe this is because she has an open mind. She likes people and they like her back.
Lanie is also intellectually open to new ideas. Lanie has ideas about right and wrong, but welcomes challenges to those ideas. Not only that, but she is willing to do the research in order to find answers to her questions.
Lanie Kruszewski lights up a room. From the beginning of last year, I admired her ability to develop close relationships with both young women and young men. Not all girls or boys can do this. Generally, they stick with their own kind for friendships. Boys tend to kid around in ways that sometimes offend girls. Lanie seemed to like the bantering between young men. She dished it out, but she also took it. They liked and respected her for it.
Lanie has many gifts. She can write, speak extemporaneously, and cook. She is a gifted athlete who played field hockey, soccer, and basketball all four years and who took up swimming during her senior year. She�s the type of person who, having found success in one area, risks failure by trying something new. Usually, however, she succeeds. What I admire about her, however, is that willingness to risk failure. Many of our students only want the grade; Lanie actually wants to learn from an experience.
Lanie really made an impression on me at the end of last year. On June 16, I had been engaged to do a dramatic reading of a part of the �Penelope� chapter from James Joyce�s Ulysses. Because of the adult content, I only told my seniors about the event. Even so, I didn�t expect any of them to attend, because the performance was to take place after graduation that night.
Imagine my delight when I saw Lanie, along with her mother and her mother�s friend, arrive in the restaurant to hear my reading. She could have been out celebrating with her peers or her family, away in a place that had no connection to high school. But no, there she was. It made my day.
I couldn�t think of a better candidate for any program. Lanie is an intelligent young woman who also knows the value of hard work. She has a great sense of humor and she is fundamentally kind. For the past few months, she has been attending the culinary institute full time and working over 50 hours per week as a pastry chef. She is amazing.
As such, I highly recommend Lanie Kruszewski.
Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Cynthia A. Losen, English teacher, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School


9/3/12
JMU mourns the loss of professor, graduate as school year picks up

8/29/12
Remembering a Fellow Duke - JMU Breeze


8/2/12
Ms. Kruszewski, This is a letter I never thought I would have to write and one that I am still having trouble comprehending. Knowing and loving Lanie has been such an unbelievable gift that I have had for the past 10 years. I just want to thank you for producing and nurturing such a strong, kind and ebullient woman. The commitment you put into raising three well-rounded, cultured daughters is readily apparent. I was always amazed at your ability to always be present for a daughter with such an amazingly full schedule, but I realize now that you knew what a great deal you had and would have been foolish not to be there for all of it.
The extreme heartache I've felt for the past days has been overcome, albeit briefly, only by the gratefulness I have to have known her and to have created such great memories. Life will go by a little less brightly without Lanie, but I will think of her often. Every time I have bacon. Every time I make a Harry Potter reference in everyday life. Every time I take advantage of a beautiful day because I know she wouldn't have let it go to waste. Whenever I am hesitant to try a new food I will see her smiling face and outstretched hand telling me to put it in my mouth already and that I'm going to love it. She was always right when she did that.
The outpouring of love on Facebook and the broad range of people involved is a testament to the impact Lanie had on everyone she met. She was simply inspiring to be around. If you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to call. It's the best I can do for someone who was such a beautiful influence on my life.

With much love, Kevin Smith


8/7/12
Sad news here. A young woman, Lanie Kruszewski, was recently killed in a hit-and-run accident as she rode her bike home from work. When I was at James Madison University, I taught Lanie. It was early in my still-young teaching career. I remember her because Lanie and I were a bit at odds.
Lanie told me a number of times that the things we were doing in class were elementary. She was spunky and sarcastic, with an eye roll always in the works. Maybe she was right about classroom activities. I didn�t have a lot of experience yet, so I wasn�t sure. But I learned later that class assignments weren�t beneath most of the students (OK � maybe some of them were); they were beneath Lanie. She was one of the smartest students I�ve ever had. She was beyond her years, with an open-minded vision of the world that would make many adults envious. And she was excited at every chance to write. I remember her mostly because she made me question myself as an instructor, so much so that I significantly changed the way I taught. I became even more learner-centered. I questioned the purpose of everything I did. I worked harder. Lanie was a hard student to have in class because she was also a strong leader. And when she resisted class activities, others followed. But I�m a better teacher because of her.
I�ll never get to thank her for that.

- Isaac Sweeney "The 2-Year Track"


7/31/12
Lanie and I worked together at Amici. Last Christmas eve we worked together as we had many nights before, although somewhat angrily, due to the holiday. That shift, she brought in presents for EVERYONE who worked there (even the unpleasant folk), and placed them beneath the christmas tree proped in the foyer. As the evening dragged on, my particular present beckoned to me from beneath the tree and reminded me that things weren't so bad. That evening, I opened my gift at the bar, the contents of which brought me to tears, well, sobs (Daniel Pritchett will no doubt remember this cry-fest). Lanie had taken a scrap of a conversation we'd had at some point and used it to produce the most meaningful and wonderful christmas gift. As I cried my way home that night I felt fortunate, and soaked in the Christmas spirit. That is how Lanie was. She was well past smart, and she used her intelligence and intuitive abilities for good. And funny, damn she was funny.
As my daughter looks at me and wonders why there is water coming out of my face, I look at her and wish that she could have come to know Lanie, who embodied so many things I value in a person. If my little alien/monster baby can grow to be as honest, funny, and beautiful as Lanie, I will feel as if I have done a great job. Thank you, Lanie. You are a person that I always looked up to, and will never forget.

Shannon Thomas


8/1/12
I have coached for 21 years and have not lost a player until now. Lanie, YOU and your family have taught me more than you will ever know... Strength, Courage, Peace, Hard Work, Perseverance, Love for MUSIC, Harry Potter....the list is endless just as your legacy!
�Love the game so much that you will pass on your love to another who has seen your dedication, your work, your challenges, your triumphs and then that athlete will, because of you, love the game." ~ Anon.
People keep asking us what we remember about Lanie Kruszewski or what we will miss the most and as I was sitting here thinking, I remembered this quote that I saw on your page and it all came together. These words, without a doubt, define the relationship we had with her. Not only did she love the game, but she loved life. And she searched endlessly to find what made her happy. Unlike some who venture on this quest and never succeed, somehow she always nailed it. From day one as a freshman until last Friday as we wrapped up camp, I can not recall more than a handful of days that she did not have a smile on her face. She owned every run, every set of sprints, every drill...no matter the circumstances. I remember the day we had to call her mom and force her go home from practice her senior year when she was so sick because she was concerned about missing practice.
This was the kid who in four years not only never missed a day, but was generally the first one there and the last one to leave. Without a doubt, she LOVED the game!
I remember the first year she started coaching beginner's camp, she was so nervous because she wasn't sure if she could do it. So, we started asking her questions about certain skills and drills that she remembered doing. She had a thousand and one questions that year, but she made it through. It was always fortunate to have her come back each year because we were comforted in knowing that whoever was in her group would leave at the end of the week loving hockey as much as she did (with a super sweet shirt to top it off).
And then last year, when she started coaching...I hope that team truly understands the blessing they received by that experience. Two days before the first day she would be with the team on her own, she came to me with the most organized planned practice ever. The THREE sheets included talking points for herself, diagrams of drills, and words of encouragement for the girls. I smiled as I looked over it because it reminded me so much of myself my first year coaching. She kept asking that day if I was sure the practice would run okay and what else could she add in case time ran out. I reassured her over and over again that she would be just fine. Two nights later I got the longest email ever providing every detail of every drill! It was hilarious. And the best part was her apologizing for only being able to get through half of what she had planned. As if I didn't know already that was going to happen.
And the day she coached a game by herself for the first time, that's a whole other story...
Along with her wanting to ride her bike from her apartment in the Fan out to the tournament at Sports-Quest because she "needed the exercise." After I picked her up and we were driving out there, she thanked me for insisting that she took the ride because it ended up being a 'little" further out than she expected.
And the morning she made pumpkin pancakes for all the girls because she was sure they were sick of having Einstein bagels every Friday after morning practice.
But what really sticks out is watching her when we went to the beach. She was so happy, so relaxed, so free. Remember how she wanted to pay for everything and cook food for the potluck and we kept having to remind her that as a coach, she didn't need to do that anymore. It was hard for her to step away from being a player because of how much she loved the game. And the smile on her face every time we got a new piece of coaching attire. She would always be so excited.
How about when we found out about Daniel. Her face immediately lit up when I asked her about him, she was so happy. We were so proud. LOL! Our little girl was growing up. Daniel, thank you for sharing the time you spent with her...for creating that happiness.
She never wanted much, but gave her everything. That is why she succeeded and has touched the lives of so many people. She was never one for praise and public recognition, but because of what she taught us all and how she motivated us each to become better people, she is definitely going to get it.
Mama K, Jackie and Leah...thank you for allowing us to be a part of her life and being able to share so much of her time with you all. I'm sure there were days (especially during her junior and senior years) when she arrived at school before sunrise and didn't get picked up until after sunset.
So ALL of this say, although I'll miss her riding up on her bike each day, seeing her beautiful face, and hearing about what new ice cream concoctions she discovered at 3 am in the morning, I'm okay with it all now because I feel like my job was done.
As a coach and a mentor, I gave her my all and I'm sure you did as well. We instilled the love of hockey in her and always encouraged her to break barriers, challenge the norm, and most of all live life to the fullest. I find comfort in knowing that she did all of these things plus more and I hope you are able to as well.
In Memory of Lanie Kruszewski....forever a dragon. Forever our angel

Paige Hawkins


8/18/12
Dear Patty, Leah, Jackie and everyone else,

I want to give you these memories I have of Lanie. The service was beautiful and really captured her spirit. I wanted to speak then but as we saw there was not even close to enough time for everyone that wanted to share memories of her!
On the field she was someone that I, and many others, strove to be like - skillwise and otherwise She had such HEART, and she was the hardest of workers. Not the kind of player that you see on every team. We were lucky to have her and I'm proud to have learned from her and played with her. The words she yelled at the beginning of each game ring SO clearly in my head still. "How do we dig?? DEEPER!! How do we train?? HARDER!! How do we run?? FASTER!!" She gave that silly cheer so much power. Lanie made those words special to me for my last 3 years on the team. It was such a unifying thing and it makes me feel close to her still now.
I remember every team sleepover - field hockey or soccer -- were at your house and she would always serve us up dinner and dessert. I remember admiring her so when she decided to whip up a batch (or 3) of chocolate chip cookies and she opened the cabinet to reveal a big jar of all the dry ingredients already mixed together. The next day it was the first thing I told my mom, who was equally impressed and appreciative and went to work copying Lanie to prepare for the next cookie emergency.
She was so FUNNY, sarcastic, straight to the point, genuine, welcoming, and fun to be around. I truly enjoyed her company. Never boring. Just a really, really great girl. Her voice and her mannerisms and the way she ran and everything will stay fresh in my mind forever I believe.
She's an unforgettable person for many, many people. Someone whose name always came up a lot. I can hear the way everyone would always say her name - lots of field hockey girls in my year ('09) or Hawkins, and it always had this playfulness to it. Her legacy lived on then and it will continue to live on. And people will keep saying her name.
There's something about Lanie.....
May the many memories you have of her make you smile, laugh, and find peace.

Best wishes to you all, XOXO, Deeg (Deirdre Gill)


8/17/12 - Lanie left us the playbook

Take pains. Be perfect. Adieu.
Words rattling around my vacuous brain since high school that I never managed to crack the code on.
Source: Shakespeare. I can�t recall the play, the context or how I even stumbled across the phrase, but it has stuck with me over the years making intermittent appearances in my frontal lobe, always followed by my casual dismissal and subsequent filing to the cranial archives somewhere between Philosophy and String Theory. Things I should investigate that probably offer great kernels of wisdom but I never quite manage to tackle.
I�ve resisted the temptation for a quick Google fix on the phrase and its context. That would just make me sound way smarter than I am, not to mention introduce a soupcon of pretentious overtone to this tome, which is pretty much as anti-Lanie as one could get. So hold the thought. Take pains. Be patient. Adieu.
I�ve been nothing short but blown away by the stories, some touching, some wickedly hilarious, that keep bubbling up about Lanie over the past few weeks. I thought I was lucky enough to know this amazing woman and live vicariously through her adventures from fabulous teenager to destined-for-greatness young adult. I had no idea that the true magnitude of her sheer awesomeness was exponentially greater than anything I could imagine.
In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that Lanie and I first met over food. Patty introduced me to what seemed like a lovely soft-spoken teenage daughter, with an average appetite, at a local food festival, and before I knew it I was competing with Lanie to see who could throw down the most doughballs in one sitting. I was the reigning champ amongst my peers and figured I�d humor this young lady with my doughball eating prowess. 30 minutes later, I was humbled, bloated and couldn�t stop laughing even in the throes of complete and utter defeat. Of course in true Lanie form, a gracious excuse for the victory was offered up (�I just came from playing basketball�), but make no mistake about it. A thumping it was, and a friendship (and rivalry) was born.

Fast forward to numerous events with friends and peers over the years�while it was always great to see everyone and catch up, I always found myself having more fun when Lanie tagged along with Patty. Way ahead of her years in wit, grace and virtue, Lanie was one of the �adults� and carried herself with more class than most of us bona-fide adults combined. Not to mention she was always just plain fun.
On to Festivus parties, the college years and once again I found myself facing my favorite rival. This time at the beer pong table. Another total spanking at the hands of Lanie; another side-splitting night of laughter and unparalleled verbal sparring. Pure bliss. I didn�t realize it until last week, but somehow Lanie always made losing fun � dough balls, ping pong balls or whatever the medium. A blast, as a matter of fact, even for a fairly extremely competitive person like me.
Take one part graciousness, one part acidic wit and combine with equal amounts of compassion and undefeatable spirit. You�ve got Lanie.
Take pains.
No matter what the task or adventure at hand, Lanie paid attention to the small stuff. We�ve heard so much about that over the past few weeks. She made things look easy and effortless, but behind the scenes seemed like she was always preparing and trying to get it right or make it better.
Be perfect.
Lanie�s ability to inject a room or gymnasium or ping pong table with her positive energy was nothing short of perfect. She always made everyone feel great (or at least better) about themselves or the situation. I�m sure she did many things perfectly with bacon but must defer to others on this point. [Insert supporting culinary anecdotes here.]
Lanie lived elegantly and exquisitely for 24 years that were packed with greatness. She was so gracious that she left us the playbook on how to live � a first class compendium of amazing examples of how to take pains and be perfect at every turn.
Adieu.
Not a finite goodbye, but a �so long for now my good friend.�
(And possibly, �They have beer pong tables and doughballs up here so expect a rematch and prepare accordingly.�)
So Lanie, I raise my glass to you and thank you for the playbook, the laughter and the many defeats at your hand. And for at long last cracking the code on that vexing Shakespeare nonsense.
Signing off here so I can start practicing for our rematch. Adieu!

Pam Jowdy


8/6/12
Dear Patty,

I wanted to express my heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. I attended Lanie's funeral and was so proud to be a part of her life.
All the wonderfully sweet reflections that people gave reminded me of something that occurred with Lanie in First Grade.
It goes along with her desire to focus into others and try to make them feel recognized and comforted.
What I remember happened on the playground during recess. A classmate was hanging around me, miserable, and telling me he missed his mommy and wanted to go home. While this was going on Lanie was walking around me, pacing back and forth and looking down at the ground. I figured she was waiting for the little boy to leave so she could talk to me. All of a sudden, she picked up a small rock and went up to the boy and told him to hold it and think of his mommy. She told him his mommy was probably at home missing him right now, but she couldn't come get him because she had to be the mommy and make sure he was at school to learn. I remember he folded up the rock in his hand. Lanie took off running and the boy stopped pouting.
What a miracle little angel she was! Patty, I am so very sorry all of us no longer have Lanie in this world with us!
I am thinking of you, Lanie's sisters and her boyfriend.

Love, Lanie's First Grade Teacher, Susie Keadle


Lessons from Lanie: Life Lived Aloud

I didn�t know Lanie Kruszewski. But I really wish I had.
A memorial service was held for her on August 3; mourners packed the auditorium of Maggie Walker Governor�s School, where Lanie had attended high school. Even though I arrived just a few minutes late, I was obliged to stand in the lobby, for the seats and the standing room inside the auditorium had been occupied, I surmised, long before. Even so, I couldn�t miss the many stories told of a remarkable and memorable young woman.
I write fiction, and it occurred to me that her friends were describing a true heroine, someone culled from a vivid imagination. I already knew that Lanie was fiercely intelligent and a gifted athlete. But as I stood there listening, Lanie took shape before me, as an intriguing character of literature might.
She was a culinary school-trained foodie with a penchant for bacon, lavender ice cream, ear-shaped cookies and fresh ingredients, and moreover, she liked to share. She possessed a sassy spirit, with the wit to carry it off. She didn�t have a driver�s license or a car, preferring the freedom and earth-friendliness of a bike. She touched people of all walks of life with her positivity and joie de vivre. She had great legs. She knew who she was, even at the age of 24.
Lanie also enjoyed reading. And this doesn�t surprise me in the least, for I know her mother Patty. I�m not sure if it was when my firstborn was still in the womb or right after his birth when Patty gave me The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. The book touts the importance of reading aloud to children, basically from the moment of conception straight through the high school years. And knowing Patty and her mothering ways, I took it to heart, feeling guilty if I ever missed even one day of read-alouds.
I have always looked up to Patty, both as a mother and a writer. And these words that we both admire, the written thoughts that we endeavor to put to the page, have failed me in the face of this tragedy. There is only a gaping white silence in which words float as aimlessly as dandelion fluff.
Often in the face of grief, I turn to the escape of reading. During the memorial service, I learned that Lanie was a Harry Potter fan, to put it mildly. I too am quite the Harry Potter fan. Patty would be proud to know that I read all of the Harry Potter books to my firstborn. Years of his formative childhood were spent reading to him about the enduring friendships of child wizards, their school Hogwarts, and the battle between good and evil. When we finished the seventh and final installment, we both experienced a sort of mourning period. What book would ever match such brilliance?
Such grief isn�t an unusual emotion for me at the completion of novels. I get attached to the characters; I want them to live forever within the bound pages of the book, so that all I have to do is just pick it up again to find out what happens next. When I finished writing my first novel, I couldn�t let my characters go. And now, I am almost done with the sequel. What next? I ask myself. I hate to contemplate moving on, for I fear their stories aren�t yet finished.
But books aren�t meant to go on indefinitely. They are exquisitely brief, like lavender ice cream and chocolate-covered bacon, and unfortunately, life itself. And yet, the best heroines inspire us and bring out the best in us. They live on inside us, even after their stories end.
Lanie�s life was brutally taken from us. Unfairly, her story ended before its time. But it doesn�t matter to those whose lives she touched. We will continue to turn her pages, because I, for one, have decided to embrace each day as Lanie did. And I will encourage everyone around me to do the same�to not be afraid to peel back life�s flimsy plastic covering and reveal the mysterious, to travel where their legs can take them, to enthusiastically sample the juicy and fresh and untried, to read, to be kind and share and make a difference.
I am now reading the Harry Potter books to my second-born, and much to my delight, my first-born insists on listening too.
Great stories find themselves repeated. Women like Lanie will live on.

* * *

Diann Ducharme is the author of The Outer Banks House the recently released e-book, Chasing Eternity, and is a wife, mother of three children and owner of one border collie. You can find her at www.diannducharme.com, where she blogs about the writing life.


From: Mike Ostrander
Date: August 14, 2012 4:54:30 PM EDT
To: Patty Kruszewski
Subject: The naming of an eagle

Patty,
Hello. I am writing you to let you know of something I plan to do next year, and also send my sincere condolences to you and your daughters about Lanie. Lynda and I were in disbelief, and hope you have had a chance to heal some since then.

I have something I'd like to do next year on the James River Eagle Tour. I wanted to let you know that I am going to name the first eagle that fledges next year 'Lanie' in honor of your daughter. I always let other choose the name, but I'm going to change the naming of the first bird next June. After naming, I'll call you and let you know which one it is and would love to have you come out and see Lanie flying free over the river. You can bring anyone you like, and we can do a private tour ... as my guests. I'll be sure to get pics too.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know my little piece of how I can help remember your daughter. I wish you the best, and I'm sure we will cross paths before next June, but believe me, I'll be calling you when I see Lanie's first flight in Jefferson's Reach. Take care.

Mike

Capt. Mike Ostrander
Discover The James
(804) 938 2350
Mike@DiscoverTheJames.com
www.DiscoverTheJames.com


Dear Mr. Waller,

I hope this letter finds you well, although I wish it could be under better circumstances. I am very upset about Lanie�s passing but unfortunately I cannot attend the funeral. I am sending a check to the Foundation in her honor. I heard that there was the possibility of a scholarship being established in her memory. I am writing to ask one thing: please make this a reality. Lanie was truly one of the most wonderful people I have every met, she never even realized how many lives she touched.

During my junior year I was on the �practice team� for field hockey, meaning I technically didn�t get to play in any games. No matter what, Lanie went above and beyond the call of duty as a team captain to make myself, and the other members of the practice team, feel included. She was a driving force for the team, an amazing, uplifting spirit and pushed us each to be better than the day before.

The other distinction that set Lanie apart from everyone else was her passion for cooking. The only thing I�ve wanted to do my entire life was to cook or bake and take care of people. But going to Maggie made it a little difficult because everyone else was going to be a doctor or lawyer or save the world. I wanted to cook. When I found out Lanie was going to take a year and go to culinary school, it put confidence in me to do what I loved. I remember hearing how some of her items were put on menus at restaurants where she was working, and then I knew I could make an impact and be successful without necessarily saving the world. In college I struggled sometimes because I often did more than necessary in my hospitality classes and in my business classes I was often the only one without plans to sit behind a desk and work a nine to five job. I felt like sometimes I didn�t fit in anywhere. Every time I felt sad or upset I would think of Lanie, doing what she loved no matter what, and I would press on.

As you can tell I truly credit Lanie for a lot of things in my life, but she not only inspired me, she inspired everyone. Everyone loved her.

So once again I would like to stress, please make a scholarship in her memory a reality. I would like to say that it should go to a field hockey girl, or someone focusing on hospitality or a food-based career, but it shouldn�t. The scholarship should go to someone who exemplifies Lanie�s most outstanding and admirable quality, doing what they love with a passion that is unwavering.

One last thing, Mr. Waller I want to thank you. You are also one of the individuals at Maggie who was an inspiration to me. I feel I learned more from you in one year than I learned in a lifetime. I hope you and your wife and baby are doing well, I will see you at the reunion in October.

Best wishes, Kathleen Brown

P.S.- If you would like to share my thoughts from the above letter with her family I would greatly appreciate that



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