Remembering Andrew Thomas Valentino

Dan King:  The memories of a true friend are a cluster of heart felt motions, sprayed with varying shades of life’s colors. Something as simplistic as a snapshot of a relationship becomes as difficult a task as choosing a star from the fleeting heavens. You think carefully, weighing each memory as to not discard their luster…coming to the conclusion that perhaps the most beautiful time shared,could also be so perfectly simple:It had been months since I had seen my old roommate, my fraternity brother,my friend. Talking frequently had turned into brief sentiments, for my new life in the workforce had begun, and Andrew had changed schools. I began to feel our friendship slip away, and our attempts of stopping this recession were futile.Months had passed, and summer was in full effect when I attended a Cardinals baseball game late July. As I made my way to my seat, something caught my eye to draw my attention to nearby concessions: my friend, Andrew. As our eyes met, excitement and laughter exploded as we ran towards each other to embrace. We spent the remainder of the game together,laughing and reminiscing about times past. Nothing had changed, fate had reunited us for one night for unknown reasons.Now as I write this I realize the importance of that encounter and why it was allowed to happen: that was the last time I’d ever see my friend. It’s funny how moments in time can be so simple, yet in reality could also be so perfect. I’m truly grateful for that experience…

Cynthia Verelst: I didn’t know Andrew for a very long time, but after our study abroad trip together I knew he was someone special. I was always a little shy and didn’t have many friends in school. I kept busy in college by running and making frequent trips to visit my parents. I finally decided to study abroad in Belgium for one semester in the Fall of2006. It was the best decision I made in my college years. I met Andrew in the orientation meeting for the study abroad program. After just a few weeks of being introduced, I felt so close to him. I have never experienced anything like it. I immediately felt comfortable around him. If I had something on my mind, I could talk to him about it. And I felt like he could do the same. We talked about everything during those few months. I could tell that he came from a very good family. I trusted him because he was so personal, honest, and caring. Andrew wasn’t just another person passing through my life. He was there for me if I needed him. He had a great sense of humor and he loved being around people. Andrew was a socialite.

Even though I was more inhibited, he made me feel like I fit in the group. He helped open me up. Andrew was the funny guy in our travel group. He could light up the room with his raps and he could make anyone smile. However, my favorite memory of him portrays his sensitive and compassionate side. During our study abroad program, I was going through something very personal, and I didn’t know who to talk to because my family was so far away. So I told Andrew my situation, and without judgment he helped me find a solution. He was with me throughout the ordeal from beginning to end. He was so understanding, I couldn’t have asked for a better friend in my moment of need. I strive to be the same kind of friend to my friends as he was to me. I can’t imagine that there was a single person who disliked Andrew. I feel truly blessed that I had the opportunity to experience Europe with Andrew. Most people aren’t fortunate enough to travel and see the world. Together we explored Belgium, Holland, Ireland, and England. Some of my most beautiful memories are with Andrew during the study abroad program. I currently work for United Airlines as a flight attendant. The customer service role in my job is not an easy one. It has shown me how arrogant, selfish, and ungrateful people can be. Sometimes when I feel kicked down by passengers, I feel that Andrew is looking down on me. I see now more than ever how truly special Andrew was. I try to improve myself every day; a journey without a destination. And it comforts me to know that Andrew plays a huge role in which I have become today. His goodness lives on in all the people he has touched throughout his life.