Anderson, Indiana

AU student Shey Harris remembered as vibrant

Wed, 2011-11-30 13:00 -- univcomm
November 30, 2011

Vibrant — that’s the word used to describe Shey Harris over and over again.

The Anderson University junior was memorialized during the college’s chapel service Tuesday morning.

harris-chapel2AU President James Edwards said there was “great sorrow” over the death of Harris. [Photo on left: AU President James Edwards memorialized junior Shey Harris during the college's chapel service Tuesday morning. Harris was killed in a small plane crash over the weekend.]

She was one of four killed in a small plane crash late Saturday morning in northeastern Illinois.

The crash also claimed the lives of her father, Marion businessman Ray Harris; her sister, Wheaton College student Ramie Harris, and family friend Chris Backus, a student at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion and a resident of Eau Claire, Wis.

“Those who knew her know what an amazing woman she was,” Edwards said during the service, pointing out that the students and Harris’ family grieving need to “come together to center our hearts around the loving care of our Father.”

Her goal, Edwards said, was to use her dancing as a tool for ministering and touching the lives of those who needed their spirits lifted.

The dance business major brought sunshine everywhere she went.

“I hope other young people could model their lives in a similar fashion as Shey’s,” said Stephanie Moran, director of the Community Partnership Center. “Although she had the resources to come to Anderson University and enjoy life in many ways, she never neglected the fact that she was blessed nor did she neglect the needs of others. She looked out for others all the time; she was a role model.”

Moran worked closely with Harris who was involved in a project for one of her business classes with three other students at AU. The students — led by Harris — received a $1,000 grant that was being used for an event planned this Sunday. The Bowling Blast Off — an event to support mentors in The Mentoring Initiative of Madison County and help enhance their relationship with the mentees — will now be dedicated to Harris.

“She was one of the most caring and generous young ladies that I have met,” Moran said. “She was funny, could make you smile with her quick wit and had such a nurturing personality. She was light-hearted and delightful but also serious about reaching out and trying to meet the needs of others.”

Harris’ mother, Sherry, and 13-year-old brother, Blake, have requested privacy during their time of grieving but said they are thankful for the support they have received, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Ray Harris had been flying for several years and in the last two years had logged more than 100 hours piloting the Cirrus-SR20 that crashed, Ronnie Carmin told The Chicago Tribune. Carmin is the secretary-treasurer of the Marion Pilots Club, a group of 10 pilots who together own the plane. [Photo on right: Anderson University junior Erin Leaver, of Pittsburgh, Pa., prays as AU President James Edwards memorialized junior Shey Harris during the college's chapel service Tuesday morning. Harris was killed in a small plane crash over the weekend.]

The single-engine plane took off from the Marion Municipal Airport on Saturday morning. Its destination was likely the DuPage Airport, though no plan for the flight had been filed, Carmin said.

“It was very clear and bright when he left. But as he got closer to Chicago, from what I’m assuming ... they were experiencing low-visibility weather,” Carmin said. “My assumption would be he flew into this weather. ... He may have entered the clouds on the flight and possibly got lost or disoriented.”

But so far it’s only speculation, Carmin said. “There’s no possible way to know what took place,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, but a full report of what caused the crash may take up to a year to produce, spokesman Peter Knudson said Sunday.

A public memorial service for Shey Harris will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 8 at Reardon Auditorium. The service is open to the public.

—Abbey Doyle is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: John P. Cleary. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.