Family and friends grieve loss of Delta Gamma alum


Photo courtesy of Aileen Moore.

Jimmy Miller

Aileen Moore’s picture is posted everywhere on Twitter, Facebook and local news outlets these days, posing beside former Kent State student Ali Fuhrman. Aileen is leaning over with outstretched lips, an inch away from kissing Ali on the cheek.

It’s just one of many pictures Aileen, a Kent State graduate, scrolls past on her phone on a Monday afternoon at Scribbles Coffee in Kent. There are the pictures of them wearing the same black dress at Delta Gamma sorority formals because of sorority requirements, and then there are the pictures where they wear the same colors simply because they liked to wear the same clothes.

There’s the picture of them together on Aileen’s wedding day, where Ali was a bridesmaid, and one at the accompanying bachelorette party. There’s a picture of Ali turning around to realize she was going to be Aileen’s sorority “Little,” which ignited a friendship that spanned countless nights where they’d sprawl out on their own beds and talk about life, boys or the sorority life. Ali called these sessions, “Laugh and Lays.”

Then there’s Ali’s final Snapchat post, a selfie of her and her two-month-old niece, paired with text that reads, “Me and bae.”

Aileen screenshotted that picture. It’s part of a routine right now as she sorts through the loss of her best friend. She’s gathered and saved every photograph or video of Ali she’s seen since Fuhrman was killed in a car accident on Dec. 27. Even though they’re sometimes hard to look at, Aileen’s room is covered with Ali’s pictures.

“I’m scared (the pictures and videos are) going to go away,” Aileen said. “I save them as if they’re going to go somewhere.”

In most of the pictures, there remains the constant thing fellow Delta Gamma sister and 2012 Kent State graduate Allison Rapp said she will remember most: a radiant, infectious smile.

“She really came at everything with a good attitude,” Allison said. “People wanted to be around her because she was just a good person.”

Ali’s death in an early-morning car wreck over winter break rattled an entire community, including five Delta Gamma sisters all intertwined through their Kent State roots.

The accident

On Dec. 27 around 2:30 a.m., after Ali spent the night downtown in her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, Ali and her dad were involved in a car accident. According to, a Volkswagen Touareg collided with their SUV at the intersection of Asbury and West Ridge Roads. The Fuhrman’s car started to go at a green light and Ali, the passenger of the SUV, was killed almost instantly as another car slammed into hers.

Around 3:30 a.m., Marilyn Fuhrman texted her daughter, “Ali, I’m starting to get worried.” On nights Ali went downtown, it was customary for her father Pat to pick up his daughter and drive her home to avoid drunk driving. However, they weren’t coming back as quickly that night. Marilyn and her dog Bailey usually stayed awake until Ali came home, but an hour went by before she started to get genuinely worried. Not too long after that, the police arrived at her front door.

Ali and Pat were two blocks away from home when the collision occurred, and although Ali died immediately in the accident, a police officer held her hand as both were being taken from the car.

Most people, including the Kent State community, learned of Ali’s death while sifting through social media posts, but others heard directly from some of Ali’s closest friends. Aileen and many other of the former Delta Gamma women told each other through a series of heart-wrenching morning phone calls.

“(One of the sisters) called and said, ‘I have something to tell you,’” Nikkie Mantia said, also one of Ali’s former Delta Gamma sisters. “I had to hang up the phone. I didn’t know what to say. It felt like it was (Ali’s) birthday, and people were just posting on Facebook about it.”

“I couldn’t even form words,” said Ali’s former Delta Gamma roommate Shannon Carll. “I hung up the phone and tried to get the words out, then started crying. For three hours on my couch, I couldn’t move. I still feel like I’m going to see her again.”

The aftermath

Ali’s death, albeit tragic, rallied a whole band of Delta Gamma sisters and countless other supporters around the Fuhrman family. Mere hours after the accident, Allison Rapp set up a GoFundMe to raise money on behalf of the Fuhrman family. Within six hours, the page surpassed $5,000 and has now amassed over $26,000. This despite the fact Allison initially set the fundraising goal at $10,000.

Allison said how the money will be spent is up to Marilyn, who has full access to the funds, and might help support funeral costs or any medical costs Pat incurred while he was in the hospital.

Because of online collaboration through, people will bring the Fuhrman family a dinner every night until at least the end of February. The Delta Gamma sisters in particular continue to offer condolences to the family, but countless others continue to send cards, flowers and donate money.

“I know how college is. These college kids have no money. The support is overwhelming,” Marilyn said. “Everybody loved her almost as much as we loved her.”

Pat said an official police report is being finalized this week, and he hopes it’ll provide all the details of the accident, which was a hit-and-run. The driver of the other vehicle, 29-year-old Matthew Gerrans, couldn’t be located until later that morning.

Meanwhile, Pat is at home recovering from an onslaught of injuries he incurred during the accident, including a punctured lung, broken ribs and a ripped diaphragm. He had successful surgeries to repair those problems, but there’s no surgery to repair the missing spot around the house: Ali, who had moved away before for school, lived at home for the last eight months of her life.

“She was my sports fan,” he said in the shared phone interview with Marilyn, mentioning their shared passion for Cleveland sports and the Chicago Cubs. “We want to celebrate Ali’s life as best we can,” she added.

Then, of course, there’s the outpour of posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many of those who knew Ali have logged on to share their stories and memories of Ali, including her Delta Gamma sisters.

When Kellie Leyland, a Delta Gamma sister who graduated in May, spent a semester studying abroad in Florence, Ali would stay awake until 2 a.m. just so she could talk to Kellie, who was often eating breakfast because of the time zone difference.

“When Ali and I first met, we just clicked,” Leyland said. “It’s crazy how you can hardly know someone, then right away do everything together.”

Shannon was with Ali the night of the accident. Shannon never realized that once Shannon’s mom picked her up and Pat came for Ali, it’d be their final goodbye.

“You never think that’s going to be the last time you’re going to talk to each other or hug each other,” Shannon said. “Ali could turn my mood around in a second. She was our little angel on Earth, and now she’s our little angel in heaven.”

The Sunday of Ali’s car accident, some of the Delta Gamma sisters and Ali’s friends decorated the campus rock on Main Street. They coated the rock in light-blue paint and left messages like, “Wait, what?” that captured traits like Ali’s favorite confused expression.

Aileen initially considered skipping the rock painting—she wasn’t sure she could handle it—but she, like many others, thought it’d be better to be together to grieve than to be separate.

“She had a million friends, so there’s a million holes,” Aileen said. “Nobody had more friends than her. Nobody.”

Jimmy Miller is the managing editor of The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].