ASHLAND, Ore. – The mother of a young man killed aboard a Portland light-rail train assured mourners at a memorial service in their hometown that he did not die in vain.
“I promise you he did not,” said Asha Deliverance, the mother of Taliesin Namkai-Meche.
The 23-year-old who graduated last year from Portland’s Reed College died May 26 from stab wounds that police say were inflicted by a man who became violent after hurling anti-Muslim slurs at two girls. Police have said Namkai-Meche defended the girls. Another man, Ricky Best, died in the attack, and another was injured.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that hundreds of friends, relatives and strangers gathered Wednesday in Lithia Park, a block away from the house where Namkai-Meche was raised in Ashland.
Deliverance invited people before the memorial to leave flowers, photos and written memories of her son on an altar that held his ashes in a Himalayan sea salt urn.
As young men came forward to drop their notes, performers sang about peace, love and forgiveness. Members of the Muslim community presented Deliverance with a letter of gratitude for “raising a strong and righteous son.”
Deliverance and Namkai-Meche’s father, known as Papa Chris, spoke separately, sometimes with profanity, and clearly in pain.
“Taliesin would have stood up for anyone on that train,” said Deliverance, who is printing T-shirts that read, “We choose love,” to distribute to students.
“Tilly,” as Namkai-Meche was nicknamed, was remembered by friends as smart, empathetic and courageous.
“Tilly cared about all of us,” childhood friend Alex Landt said. “We were all on that train.”
As a youth, Namkai-Meche would launch hikes, what he called quests, from the front porch of his family’s purple Victorian house and guide his friends through Lithia Park’s forested acres, around Ashland Creek and into the hills that hug the small southern Oregon city.
He read philosophy books, from the ancient Greeks to New Age, and spent three months in Indonesia during high school. He liked the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
Namkai-Meche attended Ashland schools until he transferred from Ashland High School to enroll in the academically rigorous Stevenson School in California. He was working for a Portland consulting firm at the time of his death.
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