Red feather boas adorned the necks of many who attended the public memorial service held outside of the EWU Heritage Center for Robyn Strayer.
Strayer, an adjunct instructor in the Counseling, Educational and Developmental Psychology program since 2006, passed away Friday, May 20, following a severe aneurysm she suffered while on campus Wednesday.
The passing of a friend and instructor has left the campus with a feeling of loss and grief.
Nearly 100 people came to remember Strayer, many of whom were students. The crowd was large enough that it nearly flowed over the brick walkway.
Alan Basham, a senior lecturer in the same program and Strayer’s academic adviser at Eastern, noticed that her dedication and drive were out of the ordinary for a college student. Strayer took classes at Eastern from 2002 to 2006 before becoming a part of the university’s faculty.
“We all knew she was different,” Basham said.
Although just a student at the time, Strayer’s background in the Navy served as an immediate connection for Basham. He sometimes called her Chief, and she affectionately returned with Doc.
The memorial service featured “You Raise Me Up” and “Amazing Grace” as selections. It was completely quiet on campus during the performances, with the exception of the trickling of water from a nearby fountain.
Strayer’s no-nonsense, hardworking and dedicated leadership style attracted the attention of students in her classes.
Students and friends were invited to share personal stories, all of which pointed to Strayer’s optimism and positive outlook.
President Rodolfo Arévalo sent a letter to university employees last Friday, informing the campus of the loss.
“We get to choose how to live while we’re here,” Raphael Guillory, associate professor in the counseling, educational and developmental psychology program, said.
Strayer placed honor at the height of her teaching methods. Described as tough, but never harsh; she was strong, not brittle.
Students affected by the loss of their instructor and friend were moved, as were numerous others gathered to say a final farewell to one of Eastern’s finest graduates and employees.
The university is offering counseling for anyone in grief through Counseling and Psychological Services, which can be contacted at (509) 359-2366.
Strayer extended her life’s passion into the classroom, with a clear love for her profession.
To the students, Guillory said, “She loved you guys. She really did, and I can tell you loved her.”