Many of us returned to school on Jan. 13 with heavy hearts. We also returned with the knowledge that three very important MSJ family members wouldn’t be present to start the new semester with us. The school will forever have empty spaces on the football field, in the classroom and throughout the halls where the three of them graced us with their presence on a daily basis.
Though these wonderful men will no longer be present physically in our lives, their lives and memory certainly continue live on in our hearts.
Remembering Dr. Pete Mosher
Dr. Pete Mosher, a professor in the Physical Therapy department, father and husband, recently lost his battle to lung disease on Dec. 7 after he moved with his family to St. Louis, Missouri for a transplant. Not only was he taken too soon, but he left behind an overwhelming amount of touched lives and left a lasting impact on the students, faculty and staff of the College of Mount St. Joseph—especially Physical Therapy Department.
An article by Jamie Bayliss and Lisa Dehner was recently published in the PT Examiner, remembering Mosher. Within the article were many beautiful quotes ranging from both students and co-workers, remembering his incredible life.
The quote by PT student, Courtney Cole, summarized what a large role faith played in his life.
“Dr. Mosher was more than just a professor to me. He showed me how living a life built on faith can make every day meaningful. I am thankful for the influence that Dr. Mosher has had on strengthening my faith and showing me what true selflessness and compassion look like,” said Cole.
Many others spoke of Mosher’s compassion as well. The article told readers of his selfless and caring nature, his love of sharing education with others, and simply how special a friend he was.
Bayliss, a fellow PT faculty member, shared just that.
“There are no words to describe the devotion and selflessness that Pete gave to his wife, children, colleagues, students, and the community,” she said. “I always have and always will admire Pete for his philosophical perspectives, his compassion, selflessness, eagerness to learn, profound faith, and so much more. He truly was a blessing, an angel and a true disciple of God….and certainly someone who I will strive to mirror.”
Mosher touched so many lives, sharing with others his faith filled and positive way of living. Because of this his legacy will always live on at the school. He truly lived the mission of the College founded by the Sisters of Charity and served as an example to the entire Mount Community.
Eric Schneider, PT faculty member agreed.
Schneider said, “If you ask people what Pete Mosher’s legacy is, you will get multiple answers. But those answers will be bound together by the common thread of one simple concept. Their lives are better because they knew Pete. How do I define Pete Mosher? Quite simply put, he was one of the best men I have ever known. We will miss you.”
In a special way of remembrance, the DPT Book Scholarship Fund was renamed in Mosher’s honor.
Just a month earlier on Nov. 10, the Mount lost yet 2 more incredible young people that were a part of the MSJ community.
Remembering Tyler Stiles
Tyler Stiles (referred to by many as simply, “Stiles”), a senior communication studies major left yet another lasting impact on his family, professors, friends and classmates.
I interviewed one of Stiles’ best friends, Jordan Bailey, who shared with me some special and touching things about who he was and what he meant to everyone apart of Stiles’ life.
Bailey shared that he and Stiles met during high school while playing offensive line on the football field and became very close friends as the years passed by. Upon high school graduation, Stiles and Bailey went their own separate ways for college, but eventually reunited at the Mount when Bailey transferred schools. Stiles and Bailey roomed together and were always going to social gatherings with each other. Bailey stated that the two of them were “inseparable”.
Bailey shared with me how “crazy” it was to think back on how everything worked out,
“I firmly believe that God, fate, or whatever you may call it, brought me to the Mount so I could spend the final years of my best friend's life with him,” Bailey said.
Bailey shared that Stiles was one of those guys who was known by literally everyone, simply because he would always go out of his way to make new friends, allow someone to feel included or simply make them laugh by cracking a joke. He just had a way with being social. Bailey said that this was truly his, “gift.”
Bailey also shared how much Stiles enjoyed having fun. He told me that he would often, “clap his hands above his head and let out a big, ‘WOOOOOOO’.”
Stiles also loved the ladies and the ladies loved him. They would often refer to him as their, “big teddy bear”. That’s truly what Stiles was—he had a very big heart. Stiles had a deep love of people, especially his family, always making sure they knew how much they were loved by him. Bailey shared that the only word to describe him was “amazing.”
When I asked Bailey to share his favorite memory of Stiles, he answered with more than a single memory.
“Stiles would join us for family vacations in Lake Cumberland, living with him for three years, visiting numerous colleges at which we knew mutual friends, when he would visit me at Centre (Bailey’s first school), getting to go to Spring Break in Panama with him, and going to concerts such as Drake and Dayglow together,” shared Bailey.
Bailey also said he enjoyed late night fishing in the neighborhood pond. One evening, they got into a discussion about how they wanted people to feel at their funeral.
Bailey told me what Stiles told him: “Jordan, I want to make sure that no one is sad. I want people to crack jokes and share hilarious memories and talk about how goofy we all were and how much we liked to laugh together. If I go before Julia (Stiles’sister), I want her to know that bubba will always be watching over her and I love her more than anything. If I go before my parents, I want to thank them so much for raising me to be the man that I am today. It is because of them that I have been so successful in college and have made so many friends throughout my years. If I go before you, I want you to make sure to reiterate my message to everyone.”
Bailey had the “privilege” of spending Stiles last day with him, and doing just this for him at his funeral. He told me, “I feel so entirely blessed to be able to say that such a great man like Stiles was my best friend…..I love and miss him so much.”
Remembering Michael Tepe
That same November evening, Michael Tepe was also taken from this earth far too soon.
Tepe was in the first semester of his junior year and was majoring in special education. I also had the privilege of interviewing one of Tepe’s best friends, Jason Stinebaugh, who also shared with me some wonderful memories and what a special role Michael played in the lives of his professors, peers as well as family and friends.
Stinebaugh told me that the two of them met in fifth grade in Springboro, Ohio. They became close friends right away, and played basketball and football together from sixth grade through their senior year of high school.
When the two graduated, they got a place together at Wright State, and transferred to MSJ soon after to play football together. Stinebaugh shared with me that they were “inseparable.”
According to Stinebaugh, Tepe was, “as friendly of a guy as you could meet.” He went on to say that no one ever had anything negative to say about him, because he was such an outgoing person and very easy to talk to.
Stinebaugh shared that Tepe “truly cared about his family and his friends” and “had a way with the ladies.” Stinebaugh went on to say, “He would wear hats and clothes that only he could pull off, and never cared what people thought of him because it’s what he thought was cool.”
I asked Stinebaugh to share his favorite memory of Tepe, and he took me back to their freshman year of high school.
“He (Tepe) played running back at the time and we had a scrimmage one Saturday in August. He completely broke his finger early in the scrimmage and it was pointing sideways. Unfortunately, he was out for half of the season that year. Midyear we had a game come down to the wire and we were down by 2 points. Mike didn't play a single snap in the game, but with one second left, he came in and kicked a 37 yard game winning field goal. It was awesome: everyone was going crazy,” shared Stinebaugh.
I asked Stinebaugh how he thought Tepe would be remembered, and he replied as “…a laid back guy that lived care-free. He approached life the right way and he had such a positive outlook on things. People will remember him for his laugh and how to have a great time.”
Bailey also knew Tepe, and told me just how much he loved children and being able to work with them.
Bailey said, “One of the last things he did the day he passed…was buy a candy bar from a little kid fundraising.” Acts like this one remind us what a big heart Tepe also had for others--his kindness and fun loving personality will be missed by all.
Coping with loss and moving forward
The loss of someone dear to our hearts is never something a person can prepare for. Patsy Schwaiger, director of the Wellness Center at the Mount, shared the following on how to deal with a loss:
“Bereavement is a normal response to the powerful distress of loss through death. Feelings of grief can feel so overwhelming, and sometimes a little frightening to people, and there is no ‘correct’ or ‘necessary’ response as each person struggles to make sense of the loss and the impact of that loss on their lives. When we lose someone dear to us, the view of how our world shifts a bit and we have to revise our own stories to make sense out of the shift.”
Schwaiger went on to say, “It is important to in the aftermath of a loss to come together, to tell stories, to cry and laugh and attend to one another in loving ways. I saw that happen in countless ways after the deaths of Tyler and Mike in November and after the death of Dr. Mosher in December.”
Bailey and Stinebaugh shared the same exact advice with me when asked how they specifically dealt with loss. They explained the importance of surrounding yourself with family and friends, and sharing those memories of the person lost.
Schwaiger also said, “We all have different coping skills as well, that allow us to face difficult situations with varying degrees of resilience as we learn to manage a new reality. It is helpful to talk to one another about the loss, to be present to ourselves and one another by listening and offering support. Knowing that it is normal after a loss to feel shock or disbelief, fear, guilt, grief, confusion and anger. It is very important to note that there is no timetable for bereavement or for the intensity of grief. Validating the grief process for ourselves and for others also helps in the healing process.”
If you are particularly struggling with grief, any student enrolled at the College has access to free counseling. Call the Wellness Center at (513)244-4949, set up an appointment in person, through e-mail, or access information on MyMount. Upon setting up your appointment you will be able to meet with one of the clinical professional counselors or the half-time clinical psychologist, who will help you to work through what you may be struggling with.
Schwaiger closed our interview with the following words:
“May all of us be blessed with the kindness, compassion and joy we need to live our precious lives to the best of our ability. I believe that is what Tyler, Mike and Dr. Mosher would want us to do.”
Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of Mosher, Stiles and Tepe during the loss of their loved ones. We want you to know our thoughts and prayers continue with you to this day.
Let us all as a community and MSJ Family, allow the memory of these three lives well lived to continue on in our minds and hearts.
Editor’s note: in the spirit of the above advice for coping and moving forward, please feel free to send any memories or reflections you wish to share with the Mount community about Tyler, Mike, or Dr. Mosher to Dateline editor Ashley Eilers at Ashley_Eilers@mail.msj.edu. We’ll publish them in our next issue. Also, make sure to read Dr. John Trokan’s comforting reflection about Dr. Mosher, featured in this issue.