The room was quiet, save a few sniffles and the music playing behind the slideshow. Friends of University senior and Scotland native Craig Macfie watched as photos of his University life played out before their eyes. Laughter erupted from the crowd of nearly 100 as pictures of Craig in his kilt or skiing shirtless popped up on the screen.
This was the scene that unfolded Sunday evening in 211 Lillis, inside the same building that Macfie, a business major, frequently attended classes. The classroom served as an impromptu memorial for the 24-year-old transfer student, who on Saturday evening died following a tragic accident along East 11th Avenue. Around 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning, Macfie had been biking when another University student in a car struck him from behind, causing serious head trauma that ultimately took his life.
His friends put together the memorial in a matter of hours, gathering friends, family and faculty who knew and loved him. Macfie was well-known not only as an Olympic-level skier on the University Alpine Racing team but also for having a fun and charming personality. University senior Peter Hodel, one of his best friends, opened the memorial by talking about Macfie’s incredible life.
“Craig was such a goofy, fun-loving guy,” Hodel said. “He had so many stories with him.” Hodel struggled to stay composed during his speech, and Macfie’s other best friend, University senior RJ Ring, quickly went up to support his friend.
“He had, for the short 24 years that he was here, an awesome life.” Ring said. “He got to go skiing all over the world, and he got to come to America and have an awesome university life.”
As Macfie’s closest friends and family shared anecdotes of ski team adventures, drunken chess games and relaxing days with beers by the pool, he was portrayed as a carefree individual.
“He just loved to have fun,” Ring said, “And not take life too seriously to where he kept living in the moment.”
His former roommate and close friend Garrett Surgeon worked hard to get a good turnout for the memorial. The group, which had originally scheduled to meet in 245 Lillis, needed to change rooms because their original space was too small for the number of people attending.
“I really had no idea,” Surgeon said. “I texted a lot of people, I was all over Facebook and making phone calls. I had no idea there would be this amount of people that showed up.”
Macfie’s father, Andrew Macfie, was surprised and impressed by the number of students he saw at the hospital supporting his son.
“To see the number of students who were there,” he said. “To see the level of support at the hospital was very moving to us.”
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Eyster approached the podium to mention the things he had learned about Macfie in his last couple days, in particular stories of his attempts to bring his Scottish culture to America. Eyster spent several hours with family and friends during the final moments of Craig’s life.
“I found out that he made haggis one day which was a little soupy, I understand,” Eyster said laughing along with his Macfie’s family. “I’ve never had haggis but, uh, from my understanding, it’s not supposed to be soupy.”
Eyster also emphasized that staff members of the University Counseling Center and Paul Shang and others of the Office of the Dean of Students were in attendance at the memorial. These people will be available to grieving friends and family to help with the process.
“I just want students to know that you don’t have to go through this on your own,” Eyster said.
According to Macfie’s father, there will be a memorial service in Edinburgh as well for friends and family back home.
“He did do many things in his 24 years” he said. “He lived life to the fullest.”