Ceremony held for beloved hall director Leah Carothers


Anna Saez (left), freshman art history major sobs while clutching Lexi Lewis (right), freshman nursing major, during the dedication of the art studio in Verder Hall to Leah Carothers Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2014. Carothers passed away in late November.

Martin Harp, Brian Smith

Students, faculty, family and friends came together Thursday night at Verder Hall for the Lift Up Your Love Celebration of Life event, celebrating the life and career of residence hall director Leah Carothers, who passed away on Nov. 28, 2013, from cancer.

Leah Carothers was a residence hall director for 11 years, from 2002 to 2013. During her time at Kent State she was an adviser for Kent Interhall Council and the National Residence Hall Honorary.

“Her laugh would fill a room. It was a gift, one we needed and one we will never forget,” director of residence services Jill Church said.

The event started at 5 p.m. with a candle-lighting ceremony behind Verder Hall. Students, faculty, family and friends stood in the shape of a heart as the a cappella group the Kent Clarks sang in the middle. After the ceremony, Church shared memories from others and then dedicated the art studio inside Verder Hall as the Leah Carothers Studio of Dreams.

Leah Carothers’ brother, Brandon, said it was overwhelming that friends and students held the event in honor of Leah.

“It’s unthinkable to think that someone would have such an impact,” he said.

“We always knew Leah was special, but to find that so many other people did is overwhelming,” Leah’s mother Ruby Carothers said.

The event allowed everyone who knew and loved Leah the opportunity to share their memories with one another. Brandon Carothers said his favorite memory of Leah was when his family went to Super Bowl XL.

“We were all together as a family. That’s the best memory I have,” he said.

Ruby Carothers said her favorite memory was of a trip she and Leah recently went on.

Video by Brian Smith.

“We just took a trip to Hawaii, and that would be one of my best memories,” she said. “We spent two weeks together, just she and I. We were celebrating the end of her treatment. We were celebrating my retirement. That was just very special.”

Matthew Musgrave, residence hall director of Centennial Court A and B, said working with Leah was a truly enriching experience and that she was a tremendous inspiration.

“She always thought about others and was always looking out for students,” Musgrave said. “Her personality was bigger than life, she laughed big, she smiled big.”

Ruby Carothers said “If you can dream it, you can do it,” a quote by Walt Disney, was one of Leah’s favorite quotes.

“She would want everyone to follow their dreams, to believe in themselves,” Ruby said.

“She treated everyone equal no matter what. No matter where they came from or what they looked like, she always saw the good in people,” Brandon Carothers said.

Contact Martin Harp at [email protected].