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The Virginia Tech graduate’s friends are waiting for some explanation of her death over the weekend.
Friday, June 21, 2013
A recent Virginia Tech graduate who died suddenly in Blacksburg this week was remembered by her co-workers for her optimism, dedication and sense of fun.
Sarah Elizabeth Renner, 24, was found dead by police in her apartment Monday afternoon after failing to show up for work, some of her co-workers told The Roanoke Times. The cause of death remained undisclosed Thursday.
Blacksburg police declined to release any information about the investigation, which is ongoing, agency spokesman Lt. Nathan O’Dell said.
Renner graduated from Tech in May with a degree in agricultural economics, specializing in financial planning, according to co-worker and friend Tina Stoneman.
Stoneman was one of Renner’s “Blacksburg mamas,” also known as her “office mamas.” The three women — Stoneman, Misty Blankenship and Emily Stanton — said they worked with Renner for nearly three years in the Tech business school’s marketing department.
For most of that time, Renner was a work study student, Stanton said. But Renner had been hired as a part-time research assistant in the department for the summer.
“She was just bright and vivacious and just full of life. Really. She was not a dull person,” Stanton said.
“She was a great asset to our department, to our office, but most importantly to our lives,” Blankenship said. “It’s a terrible loss. She had a whole life ahead of her.”
The three women had celebrated Renner’s graduation along with the Renner family in May, and in a gesture that the women said epitomized their young friend, she gave them all flowers.
“She had big plans,” Stanton said of Renner, who was studying for an exam to become a certified financial planner.
Renner was also applying for jobs in her field, but Stanton said Renner hadn’t decided yet where she wanted to end up.
One thing was sure, however, Stoneman said. Renner did not want to go into a commission-based financial planning job, where she would be selling financial products to customers.
“She wanted to help people with financial planning,” Stoneman said.
The women said Renner was special because unlike other college students, she had close friends of all ages and showed a kindness beyond her years.
Stoneman said it was Renner who comforted her when she worried about her son, who had been deployed to Afghanistan. And it was Renner, Stoneman said, who painted her daughter’s nails for the child’s first school dance.
When Blankenship’s mother died in December, Renner knew instinctively what to do.
“She gave me a little angel,” Blankenship said.
The tiny figurine had been a gift from Renner’s father, George, to his daughter years ago, Blankenship said. Renner told Blankenship she had broken her back in a wreck , and had carried the angel since then.
Blankenship said she put it in her own car, where it stayed until this week.
“When I saw her dad, I gave it back to him,” Blankenship said. “I knew what it meant to her.”
It was Blankenship who identified Renner’s body for police Monday, after Stoneman had called police to request a well-being check, according to the women.
Renner had failed to show up for work and couldn’t be reached by phone or text. Stoneman said the last time she talked with Renner was about 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
Stoneman said she went by Renner’s apartment Monday to check on her, but got no response. Finally, Stoneman said, she called Blacksburg police to ask that Renner be checked on. Police found Renner inside, unresponsive, Stoneman said.
Now the friends are waiting for some explanation.
“Hopefully,” Blankenship said, “there will be something that will give closure in the near future.”
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