Students gather for tree dedication ceremony in remembrance of Shayne Rebbetoy


Courtesy of Lisa Hudson

Courtesy of Kathleen Harrison

“Love you forever.” “We love and miss you and your hair.” “Your spirit lives.” These loving messages are just a few of the many written to Shayne Rebbetoy.

Shayne’s sudden passing on Jan. 25 left the community in great devastation and shock. On March 5, students tied purple ribbons onto a tree near the Drake office in honor of Shayne. At the tree dedication ceremony, many of Shayne’s friends gathered to celebrate his life.

“He was always smiling, and he just always seemed so happy to see everyone and you could tell he would always be there for someone if they needed it,” said sophomore Charlotte Burch.

Students crowded the Wellness Center during lunch on Thursday, March 5 to view a slideshow of pictures of Shayne. Following this, they wrote messages on purple ribbons that would soon be tied onto tree branches. 

According to Lisa Hudson, Shayne’s mother, purple was his favorite color. Shayne also wore a purple flower on his apron when he worked at Mas Masa, a California-inspired Mexican restaurant in Fairfax. 

Purple ribbons in hand, the group of around thirty students trekked out to the grassy area in front of the office. Friends and family of Shayne shared memories with each other as they tied the ribbons onto branches of the designated tree. Laughter resonated as people reflected on their relationships and shared experiences with Shayne. Even so, there were moments of silence coupled with heartache.

“I’m just so grateful that Drake is offering this memorial tree for Shayne, and it touches our hearts to see all of his friends be able to celebrate and honor him with the ribbons on the tree,” Hudson said.

In addition to this ceremony, the local community has shown great support in honoring Shayne’s life. A GoFundMe fundraiser page was created by close friends of the Rebbetoy-Hudson family, and collected over 60,000 dollars from around 600 donors in just one month. 

Students can also write notes to Shayne at a memorial display in the Wellness Center, or grab a crystal for spirituality and a purple flower to wear in remembrance of Shayne. Students unable to attend the tree dedication may continue to attach ribbons onto the tree. 

Actions like the tree dedication ceremony, photo slideshow viewing, and memorials bring the community together in times of despair. They encourage us to smile every day, just like Shayne did.