Unexpected death of student unites campus

Students filled the Grand Ballroom in Sonoma State University’s Student Center on Wednesday, to remember the loss of a fellow student, Francis Lynch who passed away in his sleep on Jan. 15 of unknown causes. 

Francis Lynch was a senior at Sonoma State, and was to graduate this spring with a degree in communications and media studies. Lynch recently found a position as an assistant camera operator for Fox Sports. 

Lynch was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity joining as Eta class in 2012 and was a disc jockey for KSUN Radio on campus.

“It’s a terrible tragedy when any student passes,” said Anthony Gallino, president of Associated Students. “I speak for the students when I say our thoughts and prayers go to the family in this time of mourning.” 

Members of the Greek community at Sonoma State showed their support by attending the memorial. 

“I didn’t know him personally, but I am going [to the memorial] to show my support,” said Michael Pearson, sophomore and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.

The ballroom was at nearly full capacity with over 700 in attendance.   

“We didn’t know Francis, but we are here as a part of Lambda Theta Nu to support his loved ones,” said Lupita Calderon, junior and member of Lambda Theta Nu.

Jake Scarpetti, member of Alpha Sigma Phi, a senior, and friend of Lynch created a fundraiser on gofundme.com to help   support  Lynch’s family.
Within eight days of being created, the webpage had over 300 contributors and over 1,100 shares on Facebook. The fundraiser raised over $18,000 to help Lynch’s family. 

Scarpetti, members of Alpha Sigma Phi and Lynch’s mother, Karen E. Lynch are hoping to create a Francis Lynch Scholarship in honor of Lynch, for Alpha Sigma Phi members and students who they feel exemplify the kind of person Lynch was.

Members of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity organized the memorial, and roughly 115 members of the fraternity were present at the memorial to remember Lynch.  

At the memorial a slideshow was shown with photographs of Lynch, and voice recordings from his weekly KSUN Radio shows.  After the slideshow, members of Lynch’s family and friends shared stories. 

Member of Alpha Sigma Phi and friend of Lynch, Gray Ishimatsu, took pride in watching Lynch grow and believes Lynch exemplified Alpha Sigma Phi’s motto: “To better the man”.

“Whether through his infectious smile or goofy laugh, he absolutely overflowed with positivity and ambition,” said Ishimatsu. “As his big, I always thought it was my job to set examples and help guide him though life, but now I realized that it was the other way around.”

The entire student body, Greek community, and friends and family spoke on behalf of Lynch to remember his life.

“These last few days have been really hard, but things like you guys [crowd] showing up have made it a whole lot easier for myself,” said Austin Szlendak, member of Alpha Sigma Phi. 

Lynch’s mother was in attendance and spoke before being given two bouquets of flowers from the members of Alpha Sigma Phi when the ceremony was over.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for welcoming him [Francis] and giving him brothers and sisters he didn’t have at home,” said Karen E. Lynch.

After the memorial, friends, family and students gathered on the lawn of Evert B. Person Theatre for a candlelight vigil. 

“Francis was an incredible student, one of the brightest at SSU-TV and had an incredible bright future,” said Alex Bretow, general manager for SSU-TV. “We miss him greatly and it is truly a tragic and sudden thing that happened. We wish he could still be with us.”

“You don’t accept it, but you learn to live with it,” said Scarpetti.

KSUN Radio will be holding a fundraiser at Mary’s Pizza Shack in Rohnert Park on Wednesday in honor of Lynch. 

Twenty percent of purchases’ will be donated to Lynch’ family when the fundraiser flyer is shown. The flyer can be found at facebook.com/ksunradio.