Remembering Adrienne Ryba



Megan Wilkinson

Submitted Photo

Big blue eyes, an interest in interior design and a passion for volleyball. These are some of the descriptions that friends and family used to explain Adrienne Ryba, sophomore interior design major at Kent State.

Ryba, 19, died in an accident on Dec. 15 when she fell through the ceiling of an old manufacturing building in Akron. Ryba and her high school sweetheart of more than four years, Collin Butler, were on a date with another couple, planning to look at the stars from the top of the former Atlantic Foundry building late that night.

“No one should experience what she did that night,” said Lauren Berger, a close friend of Ryba’s and a sophomore criminology and justice studies major at Kent State, “especially a girl like her.”

Ryba loved dinosaurs, chicken nuggets and volleyball. She played in high school on the Medina Highland High School team. During the summer, she played for the Junior Olympic’s volleyball team, where she met Berger.

“On and off the court, she was always laughing and smiling, no matter what,” Berger said. “I can still [see] her making goofy faces at everyone and loving life. It’s hard not to come across a picture of her without her tongue sticking out and cross-eyed.”

Jennifer Ryba, Ryba’s mother and a chemist at Goodyear, said the last she heard from Adrienne was at 7:30 p.m. that night. She said her daughter had been playing video games at Butler’s house.

One of Ryba’s best friends, Leah Klafczynski, sophomore visual journalism major at Kent State, said she was told that the couples noticed a hole in the ceiling at the Foundry and all of them were trying to cross it; however, as Ryba was crossing, she fell through.

“Collin had a crazy look on his face after,” Klafczynski said, based on what she was told from Nate Kressin, a student from The University of Akron and one of the people who were at the Foundry with Ryba and Butler that night. “They didn’t hear a thing [from Ryba]. It was pretty bizarre.”

Butler, 20, currently attends Hiram College. He declined to comment for the story.

Akron police said they found Ryba unresponsive at the scene when they arrived at 12:45 a.m. on Dec. 15.

Berger said she and Ryba had plans to be roommates next academic school year at Kent State before the accident happened.

“I was with her a few days before it happened, and I’m so glad I got to give her a hug and see her . . . excited for the year to come,” Berger said.

The Ryba family hosted Adrienne’s calling hours and funeral on Dec. 19 and 20, respectively, at Northside Christian Church in Wadsworth, Ohio, for anyone who was close to her. Klafczynski said a lot of students and professors attended the calling hours.

Douglas Steidl, dean of architecture and environmental design, said he and three other professors attended Ryba’s calling hours. Pamela Evans, interim associate dean of architecture and environmental science, had recently graded a sketchbook of Ryba’s for Design Thinking 1 course. She returned the sketchbook to Ryba’s parents. Steidl said Ryba’s father broke down in tears.

“I think when you lose someone, and in particular it’s your child, I think you need to know parts of their lives maybe they didn’t see on a day-to-day basis,” Evans said.

Ryba was both an honors student and made the dean’s list during fall semester. Evans said Ryba was often engaged in her course and had mentioned future plans of owning a design studio.

“I think that’s something she would accomplish,” Evans said.

Jennifer said she and Ryba had a close relationship and became better friends when she started college. She said her last memory of her was when she and her husband Steve brought her Christmas decorations for her apartment.

“She had been working hard on a project for studio and studying for finals,” Jennifer said. “We had a great time that night. It was the last time we saw her.”

Ryba was buried in Indianapolis where most of her extended family is based.

“This has been the most difficult thing that we have ever had to face,” Jennifer said, “but we have had the support of so many people in our family, our neighborhood and in our workplaces that we are coping fairly well.”

Megan Wilkinson is an assigning editor for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].