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Family and friends of Michele Micheletti from California joined her MIT friends Sunday afternoon for a memorial service of songs, poems and fond remembrances of the sophomore who was killed October 31 while crossing Memorial Drive.
Charles Morton (SB '97), Ms. Micheletti's friend from New House 3, and Jocelyne Takatsuno of Mt. Holyoke College, who knew her from high school, welcomed those who came for "Remembering Michele."
They were joined in giving tribute by President Charles M. Vest; Professor John Essigmann, housemaster of New House; Paul Parravano, her freshman advisor; Professor Markus Zahn, her Course 6 advisor; Deans Margaret Bates and Robert Randolph; and more than a dozen others who shared their memories of Ms. Micheletti with an overflowing crowd in Wong Auditorium.
"I have rarely known of anyone, of any age, who had such a profound, personal effect on so many people. It seems that her heart embraced the worldï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ her legacy of love and caring will find enduring expression in the lives of all her friends, as well as her family," said President Vest.
"Mr. and Mrs. Micheletti, we hope that this gathering today will bring comfort to you, just as the services in California, and your welcoming of our students there, brought so much comfort to them," he said to Shirley and Elmer Micheletti, who attended the service along with their son Michael and Ms. Micheletti's aunt and uncle, Mary and John Micheletti.
Professor Essigmann and Mr. Parravano of the Government and Community Relations Office, along with 31 MIT students, traveled to Millbrae, CA, earlier this month for the funeral. At the service in St. Dunstan's Church, "we were amazed to see how many awards she had won. She won every honor available in her community," said Professor Essigmann.
Sunday's presentations paid tribute to Ms. Micheletti's ubiquitous smile, abundant optimism and lifetime of academic honors and community service, as well as to her practicality.
"Her rï¿½ï¿½ï¿½sumï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ lists more than three pages of accomplishments. But the last thing on itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ tells us that she had a paper route for four years. And you can tell from the conspicuous way she presents this information she was very proud to have been the holder of Route 09-523-14 for the San Mateo Times. This statement shows how down to earth Michele was," said Professor Essigmann, a MacVicar Fellow and professor of chemistry and toxicology.
Relating some of his feelings from the evening of her death, Professor Essigmann described entering her room with his passkey and seeing on her computer screen the Eudora message saying she had new e-mail.
"There they were, all lined up, messages from friends -- little blue dot after little blue dot. I am a mere Course 5, not a lofty Course 6; I didn't know how to forward them up to where I know she was at that time. So I just logged out, for the last time. I think it is the MIT nerd's definition of faith to believe she got their messages anyway," he said.
The memorial service ended with a video montage of still photos and film clips of Ms. Micheletti from childhood. The images of the smiling little girl standing with a group of little friends in pajamas or riding a bicycle with training wheels underscored the brief span of her life.
The Metropolitan District Commission painted a crosswalk at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Endicott Street after Ms. Micheletti's death. She was struck by two cars while trying to cross from the center island to the river, on her way to dinner with friends on Halloween night. She died that same evening. MIT officials and students had been advocating a crosswalk at that location for several years prior to the accident.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 26, 1997.