Family, friends hold service for former UNCW student

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Hundreds of people attended a memorial service at UNCW Thursday evening to remember Rory Michaelson.

The 23-year-old died Saturday when her Cypress Pointe apartment caught fire.

Rory's older sister spoke about their relationship.

"I was so proud to be Rory's sister and that she called me hers," said Courtney Michaelson.  "Nothing made me happier than when she was accomplishing her goals."

Friends paid tribute to the young woman with songs and poetry.  Richard Oetter told the crowd that Rory always made sure her friends knew she loved them.

"Remember her smile that lit up the room," urged Oetter.  "Remember the love that she had for each and every one of us, how forgiving she was."

Rory Michaelson graduated from UNCW in December with a teaching degree and was supposed to begin a teaching job at J.T. Barber Elementary School in New Bern, North Carolina this month.

One of Rory's former college professors shared a letter from Victoria Watson, the teacher Rory was to replace.  It described the energy and passion that Rory had for teaching and how excited Watson was to have Rory take over her classroom.

Teachers from Gregory Elementary School in Wilmington echoed those thoughts.  Harriet Coe supervised Rory's student teaching at Gregory.

"She loved teaching and she lit up when students learned," explained Coe.  "She was immensely proud of her students.  She was a blessing."

Coe says the teachers at Gregory plan to plant a garden there in Rory's memory.

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