Liberty mourns loss of women's crew club member McKeown
August 20, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University senior Sarah McKeown, 23, of Vestal, N.Y., died Saturday. She was heavily involved at Liberty, majoring in graphic design, playing tuba in the Marching Band for three years, and rowing on the varsity crew team.
A celebration service will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m., at the First Presbyterian Church (29 Grant Ave.) in Endicott, N.Y. Calling hours will be today from 5-7 p.m. at Allen Memorial Home, 511 East Main St., Endicott, N.Y., and tomorrow from 9-10 a.m., at the church.
"The Liberty University community is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Sarah McKeown," Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said. "Sarah messaged me on Facebook on at least one snowy morning, urging me to cancel classes. She was very outgoing and popular among her fellow students. It is obvious she was loved by them and that she represented her university well as a true Champion for Christ. She will be greatly missed."
Assistant crew coach Sarah Morris said McKeown was passionate about the sport, always willing to put in the extra effort needed to improve her performance and eager to encourage her teammates.
"Sarah was an excellent rower and was always striving to be a better rower," Morris said, noting she boosted the Lady Flames' women's Varsity 8 boat to a fifth-place finish in the John Hunter Regatta in Atlanta and a sixth-place showing at the Knecht Cup in Camden, N.J., this past spring. Last fall, her boat won the Championship 8 at the Head of the South Regatta in Augusta, Ga. "She brought joy and laughter to the team like no one else could. She got along with everyone and was the type of person who would get people to open up and helped make our team more of a family."
Sophomore Logan Dingus, who played in the marching band with McKeown, told Falwell that he remembers how she was "like an older sister" to everybody around her.
"Last year when I got here she took me under her wing and really helped me find my place," he said. "She was that way with everybody around her … always so energetic and uplifting to everyone."
Dr. Stephen Kerr, director of Bands, echoed this, saying: "She could always be counted on to help a weaker performer, uplift the spirits of a member who was having a tough day, or share her testimony of what the Lord was doing in her life.
"Sarah was faithful and knew the meaning of commitment and loyalty, virtues that are reflective of her desire to please the band, faculty, and her Lord."
Todd Smith, chair of Liberty's Department of Studio & Digital Arts, said her work reflected her positive attitude. He described her as an "outside-the-box thinker" when it came to projects.
"She approached projects with innovation and creativity, I really liked this trait and always encouraged her to continue with that attitude," Smith said. "I am reminded of Sarah's outgoing personality, love for creativity and innovation … and her hope for the future."
Several of her classmates, bandmates, teammates, and friends shared similar memories, remembering her as "an all-around happy person with a true zeal for life," "an amazing, godly woman," with a "quirky personality," "sincere approach to friendship," and "bright spirit."
"She loved every single person she met and always had a smile on her face," Nicole Anderson said.
"I'm pretty sure she packed more living in her short years than most people think possible," Beth Ewing added.
Expressions of sympathy in Sarah's memory may be made to the Epilepsy Foundation, 1650 South Ave. #300, Rochester, N.Y., 14620-3926. Share a memory or sign her guestbook at www.Legacy.com.