The Victims: Portraits of the Lost

Liviu Librescu, 76
Professor, Virginia Tech
A Romanian Jew, Librescu survived the Holocaust and Nicolae Ceausescu's communist regime before dying in his Norris Hall classroom last Monday. He came here in the mid-'80s from Israel, where he worked at Tel Aviv University, and had long been respected worldwide for his aeronautical research. South Korean colleague Ohseop Song, a former graduate student of Librescu's with whom he frequently collaborated, says his mentor was a "brave and unworldly-minded person with a heart of gold" who'd return from trips with gifts for his students and often invite them over for dinner. "He understood very well the loneliness and difficulties of foreigners living in America," says Song. Librescu's final act was typically selfless: while his students escaped through the windows of Norris, he stayed behind to block the door.

Daniel O'Neil, 22
Grad student, Rhode Island
O'Neil was pursuing a degree in environmental engineering at the time of his death. Friends remembered him as a "renaissance man" whose passions included designing bridges and writing acoustic-rock songs, which he shared on MySpace and at

Caitlin Hammaren, 19
Sophomore, New York
Friends describe Hammaren, an international-studies major mulling a law career, as a "sparkling" girl. As president of her school choir, she made T shirts for her section and once sang through a bloody nose. She went to junior prom in a Renaissance dress; her date wore a purple kilt. She would have been 20 in May.

Matthew Gwaltney, 24
Grad student, Virginia

The Thursday before his death, Gwaltney returned home to the Richmond suburb of Chester for a job interview and a home-cooked dinner. A master's engineering student who excelled in high-school sports, he was voted "best guy to take home to Mom and Dad" and attended every Hokie football and basketball game. He wanted to live near his parents after graduating in May.

Ryan Clark, 22
Senior, Georgia
It seemed everyone at VT knew—and loved—the gregarious Clark, who went by the nickname "Stack." "When you walked across campus with him, you couldn't take three steps without somebody stopping him to say hello," says David McKee, director of the school's marching band, in which Clark played baritone. "I remember vividly thinking, 'This is an act!' This can't be real. But it was. He was a huge hugger." Clark, who was just a month away from graduation, also boasted a 4.0 GPA, was a triple major in biology, English and psychology, and spent his summers counseling kids and adults with special needs at Camp Big Heart in Georgia. "He had the personality—open, nonjudgmental—that everyone works their entire life to have," says friend and former bandmate Melissa Dowd.

Clark was one of the first two victims killed on the VT campus. He was a student resident adviser at the West Ambler Johnston dorm and was apparently rushing over to investigate what sounded like an argument when he came upon the gunman. "He was helping someone else," says Dowd. "If I were God, I'd want him up in heaven with me as well. So I can't blame him for taking Ryan. Everyone wanted to hang out with him."

Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, age unknown
Teacher, Virginia Tech
Worried that her two daughters would one day forget their mother tongue, Couture-Nowak established the first Francophone school in her small Nova Scotia town. She brought her passion for French to VT when her husband was hired as head of the horticulture department around 2001; at the end of the semester, she'd make crepes for her students.

Waleed Shalaan, 32
Grad student, Egypt
The studious Shalaan often started work at 7 a.m. and walked home at 3 the next morning. He'd recently bought a May 14 plane ticket to Egypt, where he was to reunite with his wife of three years and their 1-year-old son, Khaled, whom he hadn't seen since August. Shalaan hoped to bring his family back to Blacksburg.

Ross Alameddine, 20
Sophomore, Massachusetts
Known as Rossmo to his friends, the smart-alecky Alameddine was passionate about almost everything: gaming (especially Jedi titles), improv poetry, horror films, technology and the piano ("self-taught to mastery level by fifth grade," said a pal). His proudest possession: the teal Pontiac Grand Am he won in a raffle-for one, lucky dollar.

Julia Pryde, 23
Grad student, New Jersey

Pryde, an unshakable environmentalist working to bolster her idealism with a graduate degree in biological systems engineering, was killed in G. V. Loganathan's advanced hydrology class. Her hair tied back in long dreadlocks, she'd previously assisted a professor in Peru and Ecuador. When a professor tried to dissuade Pryde from launching a program to compost dining-hall waste, she "would have no part of throwing in the towel."

Brian Bluhm, 25
Grad student, Iowa
A huge Hokie fan, Bluhm would wear a pair of bright orange pants to nearly every game—a fashion statement his friends, many from the Baptist student union, found hilarious. Bluhm was weeks away from earning his master's in water resources and had accepted a civil-engineering job in Baltimore (where a brother and sister live). He had just started looking at apartments.

Jamie Bishop, 35
Instructor, Virginia Tech
Bishop "lived more in 35 years than many people do in 80," says Gail Sheppard, his high-school social-studies teacher. He grew up in Pine Mountain, Ga., where he was valedictorian of his high school, editor of the yearbook and a member of the tennis team, the art club and the model United Nations team. He was also his class's official Star Student (highest SAT, top 10 percent of his class). After receiving his bachelor's degree in German from the University of Georgia (where he later got his master's), Bishop spent four years in Germany, studying the language, teaching English, "drinking large quantities of wheat beer and wooing a certain Fraulein," according to his Web site. That Fraulein, Stefanie Hofer, would later become his wife. Since 2005, they had taught together in the Virginia Tech German department, where the ponytailed "Herr Bishop" was "very rigorous but also well liked by his students," says foreign-languages chair Richard Shryock. Last week in Pine Mountain, the local pastor reprised a sermon that Bishop first delivered 18 years ago. The theme, according to Sheppard: "You never know when your time is coming—so be ready."

Henry Lee, 20
Freshman, Virginia
Just before graduating from high school last spring, Hehn Ly passed his citizenship test, changed his name to Henry Lee and invited his friends to celebrate at Applebee's. As salutatorian, he spoke in front of 5,000 people about how hard it was to emigrate from China. "If I can do it, everyone can do it," he said. Lee received so many awards that he was asked to remain onstage.

Daniel Perez Cueva, 21
Junior, Virginia
Perez's mother was a teacher in Peru; here, she cleaned houses and ironed clothes to put her son through college. Once a member of Peru's swimming team, Perez transferred from two community colleges before arriving at Virginia Tech, where he majored in international studies. He was hoping to score an internship at the French Embassy.

Maxine Turner, 22
Senior, Virginia
Turner's parents wanted her to go to Johns Hopkins-she was accepted-"but no, she wanted to go to Virginia Tech," said her father. On a Facebook tribute page, high-school boyfriend Paul Fraser recalled swing-dancing every Saturday with Turner, who had an engineering job lined up for next year. "We'd dance all night," he wrote. "That was our thing."

G. V. Loganathan, 51
Professor, Virginia Tech
An award-winning hydrology professor who taught at VT for 25 years, Loganathan wore ties on the hottest summer days and resisted calling his colleagues anything other than "Dr." But he made sure to remember every student's name, says department head Bill Knocke. "He was pure of heart."

Nicole White, 20
Junior, Virginia
Last Monday, White's cousins swarmed her Facebook page, pleading for a call, an e-mail, anything to let them know she was safe. The next morning, one delivered the bad news: White, a former lifeguard who loved Janis Joplin and Outkast, died in German class. She was on her way to degrees in German and international studies.

Leslie Sherman, 20
Sophomore, Virginia
Sherman was always moving. A member of the cross-country and track teams in high school, she'd finish a race and immediately start cheering for friends. A longtime student of French, she was planning to pick up Russian (in Russia) this summer. Recently, she'd finished a marathon—and was already training for another. She never forgot a thank-you note.

Lauren McCain, 20
Freshman, Virginia
On her MySpace page she listed Jesus Christ and her brother, Joel, as her heroes. Home-schooled by her mother—her father's naval career required frequent moves—McCain worked at a department store for a year to save money for college. She was an active member of Campus Crusade for Christ and planned to join the Peace Corps after school.

Kevin Granata, 46
Professor, Virginia Tech
One of the top-five biomechanics researchers in the country, Granata, a former military man, would often arrive at work in a shirt and tie—and jeans and cowboy boots. He specialized in studying how skeletal systems respond to stress and neurological dysfunction. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Rachael Hill, 18
Freshman, Virginia
When Grove Avenue Christian School (senior-class size: 10) honored Hill as sportswoman of the year for her volleyball skills, she joked that her jersey should be retired. As classmates returned to mourn their devout, shoe-obsessed friend, her coach decided to do just that.

Reema Samaha, 18
Freshman, Virginia
Like Cho Seung-Hui, Samaha came to Virginia Tech from Westfield High School in Centreville. But that's where their paths diverged. An avid actor and award-winning dancer, Samaha had "a mischievous glint in her eye," says family friend Luann McNabb. "Reema made my mother-in-law laugh so hard, milk came out of her nose." Samaha was the youngest of three kids in a tightknit family that visited relatives in Lebanon most summers (she was evacuated during last year's bombings). Inspired by the country's culture, she recently took up belly dancing, and spent the weekend before she died showing classmates some moves. As news of her death spread last week, Rashid Sadki, a fellow Hokie intimidated by the striking Samaha, posted a note on Facebook: "Reema you were in my english class. I wish I was brave enough to talk to you before you passed. may you rest in peace."

Emily Hilscher, 19
Freshman, Virginia
Emily Hilscher's friends knew the 19-year-old freshman best for her quirky sense of style ("oddball clothing with Converse," says childhood friend Tommy Pendleton) and lifelong love of animals. Although growing up on a horse farm in a tiny Shenandoah town made her restless (Rappahannock became "Crappahannock" on her MySpace page), it was no surprise when Hilscher decided to major in animal and poultry sciences at Virginia Tech. With senior Ryan Clark, she was one of the first two students killed last week. "Emily was the most precious person I knew," says Pendleton, who set up a memorial page on Facebook. "There's nothing anyone can say that will make her more special than she was. I'm going to really, really miss her."

Jeremy Herbstritt, 27
Grad student, Pennsylvania
An avid outdoorsman, he earned two undergrad degrees (with honors) from Penn State—biochemistry and molecular biology in '03, civil engineering in '06. His sister begged him to run the Boston marathon with her last Monday, but he said no: he didn't want to miss class.

Erin Peterson, 18
Freshman, Virginia
Another Westfield grad, the 6-foot-1 Peterson captained the school's B-ball squad and loved rapper 50 Cent (actor Vin Diesel was a close runner-up). On game days, she'd still call the team (from Blacksburg) to give one of her pep talks.

Matthew La Porte, 20
Sophomore, New Jersey
Heavy-metal fan La Porte considered Carson Long Military Institute in Pennsylvania his "second chance." Arriving in search of the discipline that would boost his grades and college prospects, he eventually graduated third in his class and earned an Air Force ROTC scholarship to VT. Fellow cadets said that La Porte died trying to save others.

Austin Cloyd, 18
Freshman, Virginia
Friends knew Cloyd for her striking looks—tall and pale with curly red hair—and meticulous shopping style (90 minutes at Old Navy). But she also spent summers doing the dirty work of making the world a better place: roofing homes in Appalachia, helping doctors care for pregnant women in Piedras Negras, Mexico, attending Model U.N. events in preparation for her dream job (at the real United Nations). She was one week shy of her 19th birthday.

Partahi Lumbantoruan, 34
Grad student, Indonesia
The son of military parents who sold property and cars to pay for their son's education, the orderly, disciplined Lumbantoruan arrived in the United States three years ago determined to one day become a college professor. His friends fondly remembered his daily uniform: pressed polo shirt tucked into khaki pants—with an ever-present VT cap.

Minal Panchal, 26
Grad student, India
An aspiring architect known for her dry wit and deep devotion to family and friends, Panchal had already drawn up plans for her first, big project: a children's museum in her home city of Mumbai. In her prize-winning thesis at Mumbai's Rizvi College of Architecture, Panchal wrote of creating a place where children could learn in an environment of "freedom, open-mindedness, playfulness and creativity." Officials at her alma mater announced that they will raise money and build Minal's museum—using her thesis as their blueprint.

Juan Ortiz, 26
Grad student, Puerto Rico
Studious on the surface, Ortiz, who was killed while teaching, loved playing the timbales in his family's salsa band. He arrived at VT in August with his wife, also an engineering student. They were planning to have their first child soon.

Mary Read, 19
Freshman, Virginia
Born in South Korea to an Air Force family, Read had yet to set a course of study but was hoping to teach children one day. On Jan. 22, 2006, she filled out a questionnaire on MySpace: "Best physical trait? My smile. Favorite drink? Shirley Temple. Marry the perfect lover or the perfect friend? Both."

Michael Pohle, 23
Senior, New Jersey
Only weeks away from graduating with a degree in biological sciences, Pohle had "a bunch of job interviews and was all set to start his postcollegiate life," says Craig Blanton, his vice principal at Hunterdon Central High School, where Pohle played football and lacrosse. "He was just a good person."

Jarret Lee Lane, 22
Senior, Virginia
Lane was 6 feet 2 and thin as a rail. "Not the type of athlete you'd picture," admits Lane's high-school coach, Todd Lusk. "But he had the heart of a champion." The youngest of three children raised by his mother and grandmother in tiny Narrows, Va., Lane captained his school's "Green Wave" football, basketball, tennis and track teams, earning 12 varsity letters—all while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average and serving as a youth leader at his local Baptist church. "When you define the term 'student-athlete,' Jarrett's name should be right there next to it in the dictionary," says Lusk. Days before he died, Lane learned he had been accepted for graduate work at the University of Florida's Coastal Engineering Program, where he hoped to pursue his dream of becoming a civil engineer. His hometown is already planning to award several scholarships in his honor.

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