Lenfest: `model of commitment'


February 17, 2000|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Overflow crowds spilled outside Barranco and Sons Funeral Home on Tuesday night in Severna Park and yesterday at Our Lady of the Fields Catholic Church in Millersville to pay tribute to Eric Lenfest, who was killed Friday after being run over by a car in Emmitsburg.

Lenfest of Severna Park was a 21-year-old senior at Mount St. Mary's College.

Lenfest was walking home from an Emmitsburg bar about 9 p.m. Friday, according to Frederick County Sheriff's Office. Minutes later Lenfest was lying down in the center of South Seton Avenue for unknown reasons when, police said, he was struck by 1999 Mercury Sable station wagon driven by 73-year-old man from Thurmont. No charges have been filed.

Yesterday at the funeral Mass held for Lenfest at Our Lady of the Fields, the Rev. James Donohue, one of many priests, professors and students who made the trip from Emmitsburg to pay their respects, said: "It hurts to think of life without Eric. He was too young to die."

Donohue spoke for many of those who crammed into the church that was over capacity 45 minutes to an hour before the start of the Mass. He spoke for Eric's grieving parents, Charles and Susan Lenfest, his sister Dawn Lowman, grandparents Eileen and B. Paul Blaine of New Carrollton and Leslie and Virginia Lenfest of Bel Air.

Lenfest was about to graduate from college as a business major. Lenfest, who carried a 3.5 grade-point average at the Mount, was an All-Metro boys soccer sweeper at Severna Park High School in 1995.

Anchoring a defense that allowed 16 goals in 17 games (12-5) and buoyed nine wins by one goal, Lenfest led the Falcons to the 4A state semifinals his senior year.

Coach Don Gregg said then that "Eric was indispensable, the consummate sweeper."

Lenfest, who also was a member of the powerhouse Severna Park '78 Green Hornets Stingers soccer team, played briefly at the Mount. He turned to ice hockey, a club sport that he began as a street hockey team in his neighborhood, and concentrated on academics.

Donohue told a story about Lenfest coming into his theology class and going on endlessly about the hockey team.

"Eric was a model of commitment," Donohue said.

Less than a year ago, he was studying late at the Mount with his girlfriend Brigitte. She went out to get coffee, only to end up in a near fatal auto accident that left her in a coma for several months.

"Eric stayed by her side, and I've never seen such tender caring, love and sensitivity," Donohue said in his eulogy.

Brigitte came out of the coma recently, and she sat in church yesterday to say goodbye to the person who stayed by her side.

"Eric was such a good person, it's all so unbelievable," said Severna Park's Vinnie Lowman, a 24-year-old whose brother Greg Lowman is married to Eric's sister, Dawn.

"Tuesday night at the funeral home, I didn't feel well during the wake, but couldn't get outside because there were so many people trying to get in."

In his closing words, Donohue told the mourners to let Eric's death serve as a "wake-up call that we should never take people for granted."

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