As the reality of 22-year-old Stephen Rane's death set in across the University of Maryland College Park campus, friends and faculty from Centennial High School remembered him as a wise-cracking, kind-hearted young man.
"He was quiet, unassuming and witty. He brightened everyone's day," said Rus VanWestervelt, an English teacher at Centennial and adviser for the magazine Rane helped copy edit. "He was a really remarkable kid. The world needs more people like him, not fewer. … Everyone loved him."
Rane was killed early Tuesday, Feb. 12, when police say his roommate, Dayvon Maurice Green, a 23-year-old graduate student, set their off-campus apartment on fire, then shot his two roommates, killing Rane before killing himself.
Chris Sanders, a guidance counselor at Centennial, said Rane, a 2009 graduate of the Ellicott City high school and senior English major at College Park, was interested in music as well as writing, and "took school very seriously.
"He represented Centennial very well during his time here," he said.
Rane transferred to Centennial in between sophomore and junior years, when his family moved to Maryland from Indiana, said Emma Chang, a College Park senior studying general biology. She had a couple of classes with him, and he immediately struck her as "the funny kid in class."
"He always knew how to bring a smile to people's faces," she said. "He was a goofball for sure. His sense of humor was so wacky and unique. You couldn't help but fall in love with his charisma."
Chang recalled the speech Rane gave at their Centennial senior night, how he said he had come to call Maryland home, and how "warm and fuzzy" that speech made everyone feel. When speaking of Rane, she still uses the present tense.
"It hasn't set in," she said.
It was the past tense, however, that let Abigail Barenblitt know something was wrong.
"A friend came up to me and said, 'you knew Stephen, right?'" said Barenblitt, a senior environmental science and policy major, and 2009 Centennial graduate. "I thought it was a joke."
Beyond Rane's wise-cracks and "wonderful sense of humor," Barenblitt said she would remember him as the kindest person she has ever met.
"I know people always say that when someone dies, but it's true," she said. "He was the most genuine, kind-hearted person I knew."
Another 2009 Centennial graduate, Alyssa Bailey worked with Rane on the school's lifestyle magazine, "The Wall." Rane made the atmosphere in any room he was in more relaxed — he was just that "laidback and wonderful," she said.
"(Rane) was so dedicated to everything he did," Bailey said. "He was reliable, a good friend and, above all, a truly extraordinary, smart, thoughtful person. (His life was) taken unfairly and far too soon."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun