UNA community mourns death of student

Senior Crystal Lyle died March 9 at Decatur Morgan Hospital. Lyle was a choral music education major and was heavily involved in UNA’s choirs, said friend and fellow senior Jessica Rikard.

UNA lost a friend, sister, student and singer March 9.

Senior Crystal Lyle, a choral music education major, died March 9 at Decatur Morgan Hospital, according to Sharpley Funeral Home in Decatur.

“It just does my heart so much good to read how Crystal touched so many lives,” said Lyle’s sister, Diana Lyle, on Facebook. “I don’t think she knew just how special she was to so many.”

Lyle’s funeral was 1 p.m. March 16 at First Missionary Baptist Church, 233 Vine St. NW, Decatur.

Lyle sang in many of UNA’s choirs including Ascending Voices and the Collegiate Singers.

“She will be dearly missed by student and teacher alike,” said Professor of Music Ian Loeppky on Facebook.

Loeppky was Lyle’s favorite professor, said Lyle’s friend and senior Jessica Rikard.

“She came to his office hours every day just to talk,” she said. “He cared deeply for her and helped her as much as he could.”

A mass choir comprised of many of the groups Crystal sang with including the UNA choirs, Florence Camarata, Opera/Musical Theatre, Solas and St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal church, sang at Lyle’s funeral, Rikard said.

She said Lyle was her best friend.

Rikard said she met Lyle in fall 2013 when she began her studies at UNA. The two became close friends very quickly, she said.

“I’ve learned that people come into my life at a certain time when I needed them the most, and sometimes, I didn’t even know that I needed them,” Rikard said. “God planted her in my life for this particular time.”

Lyle’s work ethic and dedication to music was inspiring, Rikard said.

“She had an amazing voice that would send chills down the spine of those in the audience,” she said. “What touched many of us the most about her performances was the passion and emotion from which she sang.”

Lyle was optimistic and kind to those around her, said junior Kaitlynn Jones on Facebook.

“She was the first friend I made in choir two years ago, and she made me feel like I belonged,” she said. “Crystal was the most gentle and kind-hearted person. She was an angel walking among us.”

Students, family and friends of Lyle flooded her Facebook account with kind words and stories about how Lyle impacted their lives.

Over 100 people on Facebook shared The Flor-Ala’s initial brief about her death.

Students from UNA and Calhoun Community College shared their experiences they had with her in the university choirs.

“She was my first friend I ever made at Calhoun in choir,” said senior Hunner Creel on Facebook. “She had such a great voice, and she was always happy and upbeat. I’m so saddened to hear of her passing.”

Creel said she studied with Lyle both at Calhoun and UNA.

Student Counseling Services is available to support any students, faculty or staff during this time, said Director Lynne Martin in an email. The campus community can reach them at 256-765-5215.

“I was scrolling through Facebook and my jaw hit the floor when I saw the news,” said junior Justin East on Facebook. “Even though I only met her a couple of times through Phi Theta Kappa, she had a huge impact on my life. This wonderful person had a heart of gold. I am so thankful to have had the privilege to meet her.”

Editor’s Note: Managing Editor Jasmine Fleming contributed to this report.