Friends and family held a candlelight vigil at Stafford Commons Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. to celebrate and remember Ryan Bohner’s life. Bohner passed away Thursday, Sept. 8. At the time of his passing, Bohner was a fourth-year studying electrical engineering, was Midshipmen First Class in the Honors and Scholars program and a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.
Chris Burke, a third-year studying psychology, President of Delta Sigma Phi and brother to Bohner, began the vigil by saying Bohner inspired others to be the best version of themselves. Burke said when he first became president of Delta Sigma Phi, he asked Bohner for leadership advice and Bohner responded: “Just be yourself.”
“As a friend, he exemplified every quality that a person could want in a brother or companion, that any member of his family would be proud to see,” Burke said. “Honor, discipline, kindness and compassion. Those are just a few of the words I’d use to describe my friend Ryan Bohner. We all miss you brother, and we hope you are at peace.”
Jesse Hines, a fourth-year studying nuclear engineering, member of the naval ROTC and Bohner’s roommate, said quarantine was one of the most enjoyable times of his life because he was able to spend it with Bohner, and he owes Bohner for the family he has. Hines described Bohner as the brother he never had.
“Ryan was the one who brought people together, it was the kind of man he was,” Hines said. “[He’d] go up to random strangers, ask their names, ask their life stories and they would always leave with a smile. I could hear them laughing… I'm an introvert, so it struck me as crazy as he would just go up to random people and get them to just fall in love with him. That was the kind of man Ryan was. He was a man who turned strangers into friends and turned friends to family.”
According to Hines, Bohner made everyone he came into contact with a better person.
“We owe a lot to him, all of us people who knew him and the people who knew that people knew him,” Hines said. “This debt has left a hole all of our lives, but his life, the way he lifted, the man he was, has left a deep reservoir of fond memories and inspiration for us all to draw from. To honor him, I encourage all of you to live the way he did: to treat strangers with kindness, to lean on the people close to you and to draw your friends and family closer. It’s what he stood for, and it's how we can always stand by him and for him.”
Hines and Burke encouraged listeners to support each other, check in on their friends and take care of themselves.
The vigil was concluded with a prayer.
If you or someone you know is having a mental health emergency, the Counseling Center can be reached 24 hours a day at 919-515-2423. If you are in a crisis situation and need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.