A permanent way to remember Paul Lee

Plans are underway to construct a memorial for Paul Lee, the student who died in a tragic shooting at Seattle Pacific University on June 5, 2014.

“The memorial will honor a person who was near and dear to many on campus and reflect how a community was impacted and came together,” said Jeff Jordan, vice president for student life.

Discussion about a remembrance began soon after the gunman, with no relation to SPU, killed Lee and injured two other students on campus.

Lee’s family requested a bench where they and others could sit and have quiet moments of reflection. One of Lee’s friends, art major Julia Bennett ’17, worked on a scale model of an art installation for Lee during a sculpture class her senior year.

“Even Psalm 23, that great comforting prayer, makes me realize that it’s when we’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil.”—Frank Spina

Roger Feldman, professor emeritus of art, also helped with the design. Feldman taught a 2014 class that included both Bennett and Lee and has hosted four annual class barbecues honoring Lee each year on June 5.

The memorial commemorates a specific, tragic event, but it also “reflects the DNA of a Christian university,” Jordan said. “We understand that life is precious and valuable. We want to have hope through tragedy.”

The Paul Lee Memorial will reside on the north side of Ashton Hall and will be visible from the window of Lee’s former residence hall room. An undulating wall next to the sheltered bench reflects Lee’s love of dance. The wall ends abruptly, signalling how his life was cut short.

“The memorial will become a focal point to reflect over events that can’t be controlled,” Feldman said. On top of the memorial, designers will grow clematis or other plants on the trellis as a sign of continuing life, the presence of hope.

“The community of faith has always lived in a world where tragedy happens; where evil raises its ugly head; where death tries to be victorious; where chaos attempts to rule,” Frank Spina, professor emeritus of Old Testament said at a prayer service following the shooting in 2014. “Even Psalm 23, that great comforting prayer, makes us realize that it’s when we’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil. Not because the evil’s not there, but because ‘You are with me.’ The threat is not taken away. The anxiety does not go away. The danger is still there. It’s God with us. We should know that. The great prophecy of Jesus was, ‘his name Emmanuel, God with us.’”

Approximately $15,000 of the estimated $46,000 cost of the memorial has been raised so far. Donations can be given at spu.edu/give with the designation, “Paul Lee Memorial.”

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