In Memoriam: Dr. Marco Columbus

At 4:30 p.m., Jan. 18, Cameron University held a memorial service for Dr. Marco Columbus at the McCasland Ballroom.
After acquiring his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Oklahoma in 2006, Columbus started working at Cameron as an Associate Professor
in the Education Department, teaching several courses.
His research interests included: At Risk Youth, Cultural Identification, Motivation and Academic Achievement.
When he wasn’t teaching at Cameron, Columbus helped local youths through mentorship and through coaching basketball.
Columbus died at the age of 49 during last winter break and is survived by his two daughters Sehvenn Columbus and Pashence Columbus.
The memorial service included two dozen tables each tied with three green balloons; note cards on each table that allowed attendees to write quotes of remembrance
for Columbus with green ink; and three individual screens that played a photo gallery highlighting his career at Cameron University.
Invitations to the service encouraged attendees to wear green for Columbus, as he was well known for liking—and consistently sporting—the color.
Two speakers from the Education Department—Dr. Dana Hilbert and Dr. Jennifer Dennis— gave eulogies through a microphone at the head of the ballroom.
Hilbert began with a reference to the clothes she wore—a yellowish sweater and black tights.
“I don’t know what I’m wearing,” she said, “but I can just picture him making some remark about this today. He would always do that, talk about my clothes, and it would make me laugh.
“His sense of humor was felt around by everybody, and every time you would go by his classroom, you could just hear the laughter through the walls.”
Hilbert also said Columbus consistently kept things interesting.
“He loved to stop by our offices to visit,” she said, “sometimes about nothing, and other times he would engage you in a deep philosophical conversation about education.
We enjoyed talking about nondominant culture, assimilation and self-identity.
“Dr. Columbus was very interested in motivation and the interconnectedness of one’s culture, self-identity and academic confidence.”
Dennis said the Education Department would miss Columbus dearly and things wouldn’t be the same.
“Marco was a scholar,” she said. “He could carry on a conversation for hours about research and statistics— something that always impressed me.
“He believed that people could change, and his encouraging words caused many young people to believe in themselves.”
Dennis also said Columbus cared deeply for his family.
“Marco loved his daughters,” she said. “To the family, and particularly to Pashence and Sehvenn, you were a bright light in his life; he always wanted the best for you. I know as the years go by, you will reflect fondly on your biggest cheerleader who you had the honor of calling dad.”
Following the eulogies, Hilbert gathered the quotes from each table and read them off randomly, allowing each attendee to eventually have their voice be heard for Columbus.Hilbert read: “I may not have known you for very long, but I could tell you were a very good man with a great heart, who cared about helping others.”
She also read: “We will all miss you so much. I can remember the first time we met each other, and you were worried that you may have been too hard on me for one of my assignments. You pulled me aside and asked if I was okay, and I knew how respectful and kind you were. Oh, and you weren’t too hard on me.”
Following the eulogies and quote readings, Hilbert asked the attendees to untie the balloons at their tables and lead them out onto the balcony, where they would let the balloons all loose at once.
She said not to worry once they’re released.
“The balloons are biodegradable,” she said. “I’m sure Dr. Columbus would have something to say about that, too.”
After each person arrived with their balloons, Hilbert counted down from five and a flood of green released from the balcony.
Succeeding the balloon release, Hilbert said all attendees were welcome to stay and enjoy each other’s company along with refreshments provided by Cameron.
The following day, Jan. 19, Oklahoma University hosted its own memorial service for Columbus on its Norman campus, which Dennis also led as both a representative of Cameron University and as a colleague to Columbus.

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