By sharing stories, lighting candles and reading passages, the Wellesley community came together to remember the life of An Ton ’17. The gathering took place in Houghton Chapel on Feb. 17 and drew a crowd of Ton’s friends, peers and professors. Ton, who passed away on Feb. 5, was remembered as a vibrant and passionate individual.
Interim Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life Annabel Beerel opened the ceremony with a statement dedicated to remembering Ton’s personality and her experience at Wellesley.
“An’s life will live on through the people she met; they will pass on her generosity, kindness and authenticity,” Beerel said. Ton was also remembered for her easygoing, warm personality and hip style.
“An was low-key — she liked walks, guitar, poetry; she took photos,” Beerel said. Beerel also quoted Ton’s professors: “she showed up, she laughed, she was engaged.” They also remembered that “An always wore her beanie.”
Anne-Marie Hartt ’16, who lived next door to Ton, shared her memories of Ton as a loving, caring friend: “She did express love in so many different ways with so many different people and that’s how you live life, so I’m grateful to her for showing me that.”
“I wanted to tell everyone how wonderful she was,” Hartt began. She continued on to speak about how Ton helped her become more connected in her residence hall.
“She was like a plug-in fuse, full of sparks and energy and plugging people together,” Hartt said. After the memorial ceremony, Hartt added, “she always sang.”
Friends of Ton spoke about her involvement on campus, which included serving as a residential assistant in McAfee, interning at the College’s radio station, WZLY, and contributing her artistic talents to open mics.
“The first time I saw An was at open mic night. I just remember her singing and that it was amazing. She had such a great voice and I was mesmerized by her singing,” Shirley Li ’15 said. She said that despite not knowing Ton well, her interactions made an impact on Li’s life at Wellesley.
In addition to her artistic talents, Ton was remembered by many friends as being a thoughtful, encouraging friend, always in the audience to support her friends at performances. Kristina Stark ’17 shared a memory of going with Ton to support a friend in the Tupelos. The Blue Notes a capella ensemble performed at the ceremony, singing “Wanting Memories” by Sweet Honey in the Rock.
“She led a very rich and involved life,” Onema Ahmed ’17 said. Ahmed read from a passage by writer Shinji Moon that Ton had particularly liked. “Fill yourself with late night conversations and things that keep you young and steal constellations and tie them around your ankles and swing yourself silly across state lines and hold hands with everyone you love, regardless of who you love.”
Stark closed the student reflections by sharing an anecdote that spoke to Ton’s fun-loving personality and human spark.
“Some of you may know that An, although very tiny, very petite, really could eat,” Stark began.
She described her experience after seeing a Tupelos show with Ton. “She wanted to start an a capella group, but this was not going to be an ordinary a capella group. This was going to be a duo — myself and her — in which it would be called Two Peeps, and all we would do is make bird noises.” Stark’s story drew laughs from the room and helped turn the ceremony into a true celebration of Ton’s life.
Beerel closed the service by asking students to give themselves the time they needed to reflect. “Knowing that An is now in peace, let us also make peace in our own hearts. May deep peace, abiding peace be with you all.”
Photos courtesy of Facebook and Kathryn Leahy ’17