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Lizzi's father: 'Hug your parents'
DURHAM — The message Bob Marriott had for students at the University of New Hampshire on Thursday as the campus remembered his daughter was this: “Hug your parents.”
Marriott stood in front of a crowd of about 300 students on the lawn of Thompson Hall to tell others about the bright light that was 19-year-old Lizzi Marriott.
That light was extinguished on Oct. 9 when Marriott was allegedly murdered. Police have charged Dover resident and UNH alumni Seth Mazzaglia, 29, with second-degree murder for allegedly suffocating and/or strangling her in his apartment that night, but authorities have yet to find her body.
The remembrance ceremony at UNH did not focus on the tragedy that ended Marriott's life, but on the joy her life brought to others.
Lizzi Marriott, a sophomore, had just started her first semester at UNH. She had a passion for marine biology that was reflected in her UNH application essay that was read aloud during the remembrance ceremony.
In her essay, Lizzi talked about how the joy of seeing people experience something for the first time was as exciting to her as seeing the aquarium objects was to the guests.
She said as a volunteer at the aquarium, people did not see her as a high school teenager but an “intrepid ocean explorer” with answers about slimy and spiny creatures others were afraid to touch.
She dreamed of becoming a marine biologist and doing her part to learn more about the marine life around her, and to share that with others.
“Until then, I am more than happy to be the intrepid ocean explorer, arm-deep in the tank,” Lizzi wrote.
Speaking at the service, Bob Marriott said his daughter experienced a transformative event in 2007 when she participated in a program focusing on the exploration of marine life in Cape Cod.
“Lizzi loved moonsnails,” Bob Marriott recalled, as he told a story about being with his daughter on the Cape as she excitedly talked about the marine life she discovered.
“This calling led Lizzi to UNH. She wanted to go here so bad and was so happy when she started classes here,” Bob Marriott said.
She was looking forward to moving on-campus in the spring and getting more involved with the campus community, but never had the chance.
Marriott asked those gathered to do three things in his daughter's memory.
He said his daughter is never going to be able to make new friends and be a part of life on campus, so asked students to do that for her.
He said she loved the UNH campus, and asked students to do whatever they can to better it.
“Lastly, please reach out to your parents and tell them you love them. Give them a hug,” Marriott said.
He said Lizzi was a great giver of hugs and talked about the warm feeling he would get upon seeing his daughter greet him and others with open arms.
He received many hugs from others as students who both knew and did not know his daughter approached him with their sorrow and condolences.
Tommy Bolduc, 20, a junior at UNH was one of those students.
Bolduc got to know Lizzi Marriott last year when they both studied at Manchester Community College.
He said she was a great writer, and a lot of fun.
“She was always dancing and laughing,” Bolduc said. He had lost touch with her over the summer, and only learned she was attending UNH when her friend, Nicole Downey, called him last Thursday to ask if he had seen her.
At the end of the service, a recording was played of Lizzi and friends singing “Into the West.” Although Bob Marriott had held back tears for much of the service, his shoulders heaved and he rubbed at his eyes with a handkerchief as tears poured down his cheeks while he listened to his daughter's voice.
Scott Chesney, director of residential life at UNH said he had talked with the family many times over the past week, and had talked with Bob Marriott about his own daughter, also a UNH student.
“Bob said, 'I know it's raining out, I know you are off-campus right now, but I want you to drive into campus, go to your daughter's room and hug her as hard as you've ever hugged her and tell her why she's important to you',” Chesney said.
Chesney did just that, and said it was the best hug he has ever had.
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