The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was one of several speakers who offered words of comfort Monday to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dr. Pamela Jolicoeur as they remembered her life and mourned her sudden death.
"I have no doubt that here, throughout this church, for a long time, we will carry a dull ache that reminds us of the depth of our love and the greatness of our loss," the Rev. Mark Hanson said during Monday's memorial service for Jolicoeur.
"And when that dull ache gets so heavy that all one can do is cry out as Jesus did … let us pledge to remind each other that we are Easter people – a people who will rise every morning as did Pam even the morning of her death," added the bishop.
The Rev. Stephen Wold, senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Moorhead, meanwhile, recognized that the more than 800 gathered at his church were "people who today tragically identify with the 'depths' of which the Psalmist spoke" in Psalm 130:1.
But Jolicoeur's pastor said they were also people who had "come together waiting for the Lord and proclaiming that in God's word is our hope."
"[A]s the people of God, we gather today in sadness for what has happened, but centered in the hope of the day full of grace that now we see appearing on earth's horizon," he stated.
Jolicoeur, the tenth president of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., died last Wednesday at the age of 65 after suffering a stroke in her home earlier in the morning.
Jolicoeur had joined Concordia College in 2004 as its president after a 32-year career at California Lutheran University.
As president, Jolicoeur established the vision for new initiatives in the sciences and the Concordia College School of Business, while enhancing Concordia's leadership in global education.
She was also sought out for her expertise in private higher education and her strong leadership in global education.
"On her watch we saw the student academic profile improve, a new core curriculum established, completion of a major fund campaign, reconstruction of the Knutson Campus Center, the restructuring of the leadership team, the expansion of an already distinguished international studies program, planning a new school of business and the list goes on," noted Dr. Paul Dovre, president emeritus of the college.
"I told Pam's mother Kitty yesterday that I thought that Pam had given Concordia the best years of her life. Kitty agreed and said 'and they were also the happiest years of her life,'" he shared.
According to Concordia, Jolicoeur is survived by her husband, Michael; a daughter, Jessica A. J. Rich; her mother, Eleanor M. Jolicoeur; sisters, Sue Kremser and Roxane Jolicoeur; nieces, nephews, a great-niece and four great-nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be directed to the President Pamela M. Jolicoeur Memorial Scholarship at Concordia College.
An official announcement has not yet been made regarding the search for a new president for the school.