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Davis, California

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Community members celebrate the life of late student

About 400 family and friends of Renne Lyra Morrow joined together for a memorial to honor the late student at the UC Davis Conference Center this past Sunday. The family held an open viewing at Wiscombe Funeral Home at 116 D St. the same morning.

Morrow, a 19-year-old music major, was hit by a car on Feb. 4 around 11 p.m. in West Davis.

The Davis Police Department found that 62-year-old Davis resident Patrice White was driving on Arlington Boulevard approaching the intersection of Shasta Drive. As White entered the intersection, her vehicle struck Morrow, who was crossing the roadway.

Morrow was rushed by ambulance to the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento with severe injuries. On Feb. 7 she passed away.

Police are investigating the incident, but have found no evidence that White was impaired by alcohol or drugs while driving. Davis Police Lt. Paul Doroshov said there are no signs of criminal negligence.

Morrow’s death has affected UC Davis students and faculty alike.

On Feb. 6 the Cal Aggie Marching Band, or Band-uh!, of which Renne played the sousaphone for, walked along the Russell bike path until they reached Lake Boulevard and held a candlelight vigil.

Around 120 people spent about three hours singing, playing songs and talking about Morrow.

Sasha Jasty, a sophomore political science major and member of Band-uh!, was close with Morrow. Jasty described Morrow as a dedicated, loyal and wonderful friend. She said the Band-uh! has always had a sense a solidarity and been like a family, and the vigil is one example of this.

“The vigil was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Jasty said. “It’s amazing how one person could have that kind of effect on so many people.”

At the time of her death, Morrow, who identified as being transgender, had just started taking hormones as a part of her transition to being female. She wrote a blog with updates on her experiences during the change.

Jonathan Youngs, a senior music composition major and drum major for Band-uh!, became friends with Morrow after meeting her in 2010.

He said that for Morrow, it was important to her that people knew that her transgender status was important to her.

“She knew what she wanted out of life more than any of us do,” Youngs said. “In such a confusing time of our life as college [students], it’s incredible how much she knew what she wanted from life already.”

Sheri Atkinson, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, said she had just begun to get to know Morrow this quarter, after Morrow returned to school from a quarter off.

“She had reached out to me as she started back to school to ensure she had some staff support systems in place,” Atkinson said in an e-mail. “She was also an up-and-coming student leader with a lot of potential. My interactions with her were truly enjoyable. This is such a loss to our campus community.”

Tom Slabaugh, director of Band-uh!, met Morrow when she came to visit her brothers, who were also band members, during her senior year in high school.

“When I first met her was a funny moment,” Slabaugh said. “I said ‘Oh no, it’s another Morrow’ and she replied, ‘I do not deny my Morrow-ness.’ She really came to school to be in the Cal Aggie [Band-uh!].”

Youngs said her death has been a shocking emotional blow to many on campus.

“Her death was really sad, but her life was really inspiring to a lot of people,” he said.

Morrow donated her organs, saving the lives of four people. The Morrow family asks readers to consider becoming organ donors. The Davis Transplant Center has an average waiting list of 800 to 1,000 potential kidney recipients, but they only have about 20 donors per year.

Morrow’s family is also accepting checks for the Brennan Morrow Memorial Fund to help the family cover funeral costs, with the balance to be donated to Band-uh!. The family hopes to purchase a new sousaphone with her name engraved on it.

Morrow was buried in Davis close to the grave of J. Pierce Gittinger, the founder of Band-uh!. She is one of three Cal Aggie Band-uh! members who have died during their time in Band-Uh!. She is survived by her brothers Sean and Ryan, along with her parents Ellen and John.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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