GRTS remembers a loved one
It’s never easy to lose a loved one, whether it happens suddenly or gradually. It is always a loss, and always felt deeply.
On Oct. 1, Michelle Foupht, 33, unexpectedly passed away. Foupht was a second semester student in the master of arts counseling program at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.
Peter Osborn, assistant professor and dean of student services at GRTS, expressed his deep sympathy to grieving members of the GRTS community, and to Foupht’s family.
“Death and this type of grieving is not the way it is supposed to be,” he said. “We have to remember that this isn’t normal, it’s not God’s intended design. We sometimes try to appease people or write it off as if, you know, she’s in a better place, but I think we have to remember that this is one of the most graphic reminders of the fact that we live in a fallen world, and that [death] was not God’s intent for us.”
Robert Lehman, professor of counseling and Foupht’s academic adviser, said that what he remembers most about her was her passion for her field, her smile, her sense of humor, and how quickly she made friends in her program.
“She was seemingly very popular, a key part of the seminary family and I think she will be greatly missed,” he said.
Rachael Kool and Hannah Wagner were two of Foupht’s closest friends in the counseling program. Kool, a first year student like Foupht, met her through classes they took together, as did Wagner, who is a second year counseling student.
“She was smart… always eager to ask questions in class,” Kool said of Foupht.
“Some of the questions she would ask I would think, ‘How did you come up with that? Dangit!’” Wagner said.
In the following months, as they got to know her better, Kool and Wagner saw other, deeper things about Foupht.
“You could tell she wanted to help people,” Kool said. “That’s why she was here. She was a good listener. She could usually tell if something was off. At least she would always be like, ‘You seem off today.’”
“I think she had a really sweet disposition and a soft heart,” Wagner said.
During the summer, Kool frequently spent time with Foupht outside of the classroom setting.
The friendship continued into the fall 2008 semester.
“This semester a bunch of us would always go out on Tuesdays after class to Applebees. She loved Applebees… and the blue cheese dip,” Kool said, laughing as she remembered.
Kool and Wagner both appreciated Foupht’s friendliness and heart for people.
“I like how she always wanted to hang out,” Kool said. “She was always trying to get the dinner together, or plan going to the orchard. She was always trying to plan little get-togethers.”
Wagner appreciated sharing things in common with Foupht, such as having nieces and nephews close to the same age. But what she remembers most is the counseling major’s devotion to better understanding those around her.
“I think that she had a passion to know people and for people to know her,” Wagner said. “Those who didn’t know her I think honestly will have missed out on knowing someone who was unique as an individual.
“I know for us [referring to herself and Kool], there are definite elements that we miss about her presence that you don’t get to have back,” Wagner said.
This remark prompted a memory for Kool.
“I’ll never forget the Cheetos,” she said. “We have chapel break during our long classes. I was telling her that I really liked Cheetos because they get stuck in your teeth, and she agreed! After that, it would always enter conversation at some point.”
Wagner and Kool both agreed that despite life’s struggles, Foupht was a fighter. They said she was good at putting a smile on her face even when things were tough, and was good at helping her friends smile as well. Osborn again emphasized his sympathy for the Foupht family of Coldwater, Mich., who could not be reached for comment by press time Thursday.
“As a faculty, seminary and administration, we are continuing to grieve with them and to uphold them in prayer during this time of loss,” Osborn said.