Community members make their way into the Newman Catholic Community Center during a service for University of Iowa freshman Kamil Jackowski on Tuesday, May, 2, 2017. Jackowski died Sunday morning at Sigma Chi’s formal at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. There will be a candle light vigil for Jackowski and Sean Wu, who died in April, tonight at 10 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Sadness and the memory of a smile

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A memorial service helps remember UI freshman Kamil Jackowski.

By Charles Peckman

charles-peckman@uiowa.edu

The Newman Catholic Student Center was silent, other than the voice of a priest and the low, sporadic whirr of flickering candles — the air was thick with heartache for Kamil Jackowski, a UI freshman who died on April 30.

Friends, family members, and sympathizers of a life cut short sat in an overflowing sanctuary and in rows of pews outside the sanctuary, and some were standing in remembrance of Jackowski. There was not an empty seat to be seen.

“Father Jeff spoke in a way that appealed to everyone there, religious or not,” said Josh Kilgore, a friend of the family and a UI senior. “He expressed how powerful love is and with it, grief can be overcome. We were reminded that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors, and that each one of us suffering from the pain of his loss can be overcome by coming together. His words really allowed us all find comfort amongst tragedy.”

The dark colors worn by mourners contrasted the colorful life of Jackowski, who was a member of the greek community.

Community members make their way into the Newman Catholic Community Center during a service for University of Iowa freshman Kamil Jackowski on Tuesday, May, 2, 2017. Jackowski died Sunday morning at Sigma Chi’s formal at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Today there will be a candle light vigil for Jackowski and Sean Wu who died in April at 10:00 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

After a message of love, forgiveness, and moving forward from a period of grief was given by a pastor, sympathizers had the opportunity to share anecdotes about Jackowski.

One thing was apparent — Jackowski will be missed, but his memory will live on.

Members of Jackowski’s fraternity, Sigma Chi, discussed Jackowski’s light-hearted nature, and his ability to put a smile on anyone’s face.

“Within each personal tribute, they all spoke of his effortless ability to light up a room with a single smile, and what a remarkable friend he was,” Kilgore said. “As more people came forward about how much Kamil had touched their lives, it really resonated with how incredible of a guy he was.”

Peter Fassnacht, a UI student, posted a similar comment in the Facebook event he created for the prayer service.

The comment reads, “Kamil always had a smile on his face. He never complained and always made the room he was in a better place just by his lighthearted spirit.”

A recurring theme of these stories was Jackowski’s smile, which was described as friendly and welcoming.

This is an attribute of Jackowski’s that friends have mentioned over and over this week.

“His precious smile and loving personality will always and forever be missed,” UI freshman Delaney Parker told The Daily Iowan Sunday.

After friends and family shared stories about Jackowski, a reception followed in which attendees could congregate and discuss his impact on the UI community and watch a slide show with pictures from his life.

“The service was so heart felt,” Kilgore said. “Everyone in the room had a connection with Kamil in one way or another.

“All together, the service was able to show how much love for one person could be brought light. Kamil was an extraordinary friend to many, and we are so blessed to have had him in our lives.”

Community members make their way into the Newman Catholic Community Center during a service for University of Iowa freshman Kamil Jackowski on Tuesday, May, 2, 2017. Jackowski died Sunday morning at Sigma Chi’s formal at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Today there will be a candle light vigil for Jackowski and Sean Wu who died in April at 10:00 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

The service comes after memories of Jackowski continued to circulate on social media in the UI community in the days following his death, and a GoFundMe page was set up to help cover the costs of his funeral.

As of Tuesday night, Jackowski’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $49,000.

Following Jackowski’s death, the UI Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils released a statement announcing an immediate ban on all out-of-state formals and a temporary ban on greek-sponsored events that include alcohol.

Jackowski’s fraternity and his place of work, Iowa Chop House, released statements conveying their condolences to his friends and family.

In addition to the crowd-funding movement, an online petition was started to retire Jackowski’s high-school football number.

On May 3 at 10 p.m., a candlelight service will be held for Jackowski and UI freshman Sean Wu, who died on April 8 in Daum Residence Hall. The service will be hosted by UI Fraternity and Sorority Life.

[Jenna Larson, Grace Pateras, and Lily Abromeit contributed to this story.]

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