Family, friends remember deceased Kent State maintenance worker

Heather Scarlett (left) shares an emotional hug with her mother Darlene Scarlett (right) at the ceremony commemorating father and husband Lonnie Scarlett.

Family, friends and the Kent State maintenance department held a service and planted a tree in honor of deceased maintenance worker Lonnie Scarlett on Wednesday.

About sixty people stood in front of the tree, sharing memories of Lonnie’s life.

“It is such an honor to see so many people here because of my father,” said Lonnie’s daughter, Heather Scarlett. “It makes me so proud to be his daughter because I know how amazing he was to everyone.”

The department chose a black gum tree to be planted in Lonnie’s memory.

“The black gum tree was picked to remember Lonnie because it turns beautiful colors in the fall,” said Lonnie’s wife, Darlene Scarlett. “His co-workers said it resembles him well because he was such a bright and caring spirit.”

Lonnie always helped others before himself and wanted those close to him to be happy, said Lonnie’s long-time friend, Bill Stevens.

Stevens remembered visiting Lonnie in hospice, he said.

“He kept asking me if I needed a pillow and that he would get me water. He was always thinking of other people, even on his deathbed,” Stevens said.

Lonnie’s memory still lives on throughout campus — he left messages for his crew.

“You can see signs from him all over campus. There’s one in Stopher/Johnson,” said co-worker George McQuiggan. “It says, ‘Do not adjust the mixing valves, they are fine — Lonnie.’ And we know because he set them, they are just right.”

Lonnie worked hard to do his job well and to train his crew to be the best, McQuiggan said.

Patrick Kalima has worked at Kent for ten years and knew Lonnie for six of those years. Kalima now occupies Lonnie’s previous position as shop supervisor.

“He taught me everything I need to know around the shop,” Kalima said. “It’s a lot easier for me because I have good guys who have a lot of experience, and then I have a couple other guys that are very reliable, but that’s because of Lonnie.”

Heather said she believes her father’s memory will never die on Kent State’s campus because he left such an impact on those that he worked with and for.

“Being Lonnie’s daughter and seeing the legacy he left not just to be followed but to live up to at Kent will always be here,” Heather said. “He was the epitome of a great man and a great father.”

Holli Phillips is the health and wellness reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Alex Cossin is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].