Excerpt from Jake's letter
Dear Mrs. Shenker,
Hi, this is Jake Lau writing from William and Mary. Having just spoken with you and Daniel Chan via conference call, again, I would just like to extend to you, your family, and the great number of friends, relatives, and communities that Omer touched, my deepest sympathy.
Omer went from being a freshman hallmate, to a sophomore roommate, to a caring friend who will not be forgotten. I recall the late-night conversations that would span late into the nights of our sophomore year, with Dan in his boxers all tucked away in bed by midnight, while Omer and I stayed up late, plowing into the evening in pursuit of homework, projects, or test preparations that probably should have been dealt with earlier. Conversations about life, about school, about love, god, people, family, friends, girls, animals, the Crocodile Hunter, sports, science, and philosophy, filled our room. No topic was out of bounds, no thought, feeling, or emotion was unwelcome.
I feel like I had a great privilege, sharing a room with one of William and Mary’s greats. He was a legend on campus as Count of the math and sciences departments, and ruled authoritatively in both departments. To many outside the classroom, he was a tutor, a role model, and to many others, a brother. With Omer and numerous other freshman hallmates, a fraternity chapter of Delta Chi was born at William and Mary in the spring of 2002. While I did not join myself, I recall the very night the concept came to light as several of us stood outside Dupont Hall, just basking in the goodness and solidity that was our friendships. On too many occasions, I cannot convey to you the sense of belonging, the exhilarating connectivity that existed between Omer and each of his close friends. I fondly recall moments in time when I would remove myself from the humorous chaos that often surrounded Omer, and often anyone else around us at the moment, and just marvel at just how wonderful it was to be surrounded by such unique individuals. Omer was a large piece of our puzzle here at William and Mary. It is from this day forth that we all will try our best to color the missing gray with fond memories, laughter, and lessons learned from Omer, the Deacon of Math, a brother amongst friends.
After having gotten off the phone with you, Mrs. Shenker, actions have already been taken into arranging a memorial of friends, faculty, and mentors from every corner of campus, which will take place in the one and only Dupont 3rd West Hall Lounge—our freshman hall common area, which I still feel is brimming with our debauchery and ringing soundly with our hearty laughter from our freshman year. It was in this room that I met Omer. It was in this very room that myself, and several other freshman hallmates accompanied Omer until his 4am departure for our first college summer vacation. It was in this room that we all began what was, and will always continue to be, a meaningful, dynamic, and caring bond.
Given the suddenness with which this tragedy has rushed into each of our lives, I feel compelled to make it absolutely clear how loved Omer was here by his friends, roommates, and colleagues. We will miss him sorely, and extend our most heart-felt condolences to both you and your family. And while there really is no easy manner in which I can ask this, are there any details about Omer’s departure that you might be able to share with us? The date of this tragedy, and the nature of his death? With what information we are given here, I feel that perhaps we might be able to try and work towards finding a resolution within each of our own minds, and closure within the combined efforts of all who were touched by Omer.
Our best wishes,