Ryan White (pictured above) is shown holding a puppy at one of the station fundraiser events at DECA SCDC 2023.
Ryan White (pictured above) is shown holding a puppy at one of the station fundraiser events at DECA SCDC 2023.
LHS Publications

Remembering Ryan White: A True Angel Among People

October 4, 2004 – April 24, 2024 Remembering 7,143 days of an irreplaceable life

When I asked permission to write this article, it was honestly because there were so many thoughts in my head and I couldn’t even begin to voice them. Anger, sadness, and disappointment were only on the surface… more than anything, I was frozen. And yet, here I am, sitting behind a computer, still unable to put those emotions into words. Bluntly speaking, I don’t know if anyone truly can. How does one begin to describe a human life, let alone the life of someone they weren’t even that close with?

Ryan White was a freshman at St. Charles Community College, and a 2023 graduate from Liberty. White was involved in various activities during his time at LHS, including DECA and wrestling, even competing at the national level. He volunteered within the community, helping the Red Cross, local fire department, and the Southwest Missouri Humane Society. During his time at SCC, Ryan maintained a high GPA and impressive grades, surrounded by many friends and family. 

On the night of April 24, an oncoming car crashed into Ryan’s vehicle. The other driver was driving northbound on a southbound highway, and it was a headfirst impact. Both Ryan and the driver of the other vehicle passed away. 

Ryan White’s senior yearbook photo, taken just before the start of his senior year. (provided by Trotter)

I met Ryan White last year, when I was a freshman and he was a senior, in my business technology class, which was then taught by Mr. Hamai, and later by Ms. Brunk. While I was more in the front of the class, focused in my little corner and talking to my friend, Ryan was in the back, loudly laughing with his group of friends and joking around about various things with the teacher.

From the get-go, anyone could tell he was someone who could get you to break into a smile with a single comment, who could get the most serious teacher to laugh, and who could connect so many different groups of people.

Although Ryan and I talked a few times, I do recognize that that simply does not capture who Ryan was– it takes a lot more than sleeping on the same bus back from DECA State to capture that. That’s something that can only be captured by those close to him, who knew him far better than I ever did.

Ryan touched the lives of all those around him, from those who knew him like the back of their hand, or those who just exchanged a few simple conversations with him. This is shown through the words shared by Mrs. Taylor, one of the LHS DECA teacher sponsors, when she reminisced on an event that occurred last year during the DECA State event. “Ryan’s entire room overslept the day of awards and were running late to meet the entire group to walk over for awards and all sit together. Everyone in his room still took their time to get ready and come down later, but not Ryan. He got ready in the elevator and still made it on time to meet us for awards. This small thing just showed his dedication to us. He knew he was running late but he wasn’t going to let anyone down,” Taylor said.

From that point forward, Ryan made sure to be early to every single event, arriving 20-30 minutes before the others. “Ryan was the type of person that would do anything for anyone at any time. I was very fortunate to be able to help Ryan with these experiences his senior year of school. Ryan was truly a remarkable person and I was honored to serve a small role in his life. He will be truly missed.” Taylor said. This event only begins to show Ryan’s dedication to the events he was a part of, and also his willingness to grow and learn from his actions, and have genuine respect for those supporting him. 

Ryan was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He always had a smile on his face and loved to make people laugh. He was kind and thoughtful and such a good person.

— Aubrey Fleetwood

White also touched the hearts of his own peers, one of them being Audrey Fleetwood, a then-senior who accompanied Ryan to the DECA International competition and graduated alongside him in May 2023. “Ryan was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He always had a smile on his face and loved to make people laugh. He was kind and thoughtful and such a good person,” Fleetwood said. 

He impacted the lives of those around him, and reflected his own smile to encourage others to break into one of their own. However, he didn’t just create an impact on seniors and teachers– he also left a noticeable impact on students from other grades. “I wasn’t super close with him, I knew him to be a very kind, lighthearted, and humorous person. Whenever we were grouped together it was always fun,” Reese Bedford, a then sophomore in White’s human resources class last year, said.

Then, there’s Raksha Thiagarajan, who was a DECA student alongside Ryan up until the DECA State competition. Thiagarajan reflected on the moment leading up to White placing at the state-level competition, qualifying him for the international competition:  “We got seated next to each other during the awards ceremony and I remember him telling me, “There’s no way I’m gonna make it… I’m surprised I made it even past districts.’ I told him, though, he definitely could, and then he did. Once he came down from the stage with his award, his smile was huge. You could immediately tell how proud he was of himself for making it. He looked right at me and was like ‘Oh my god, I have to tell my girlfriend and my dad. They’re gonna be so proud of me,’ and immediately got down to texting them.

Though I barely knew him, he had this effect on people around him. He was honestly just a sweet guy and he had a good heart. Nowadays, it’s hard to find, but he had it.” 

No story or article can do a life justice. The point of this article isn’t to add a little bit of closure and wrap up anyone’s thoughts regarding Ryan. That’s simply impossible and impractical, and I know for a fact that that isn’t my place. To me, this article is truly just a chance to prompt you all to simply do one thing: Remember. Remember that life is too short to be afraid to laugh, to make a friend, to share a memory. Remember the person you knew, the version of Ryan you saw through your eyes. 

And, with the little I know of Ryan White, I’m willing to bet that he’d want us to remember him with a smile.

A GoFundMe page started by Ashley Berhorst has raised over $32,000 of its $25,000 goal.

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