Cali Schroyer continues to give

PAT FRIDGEN
Cali Schroyer, left, goofs off with friend Courtney Stull in a recent photo.

Cali Schroyer was buried on her 20th birthday. Saturday, June 4, family and friends said goodbye to a young Greencastle woman remembered for her smile and her tattoos. Friday evening hundreds of visitors waited in line for up to three hours to pay their respects to Cali's parents, Tonya and Jeff Schroyer, her sisters Holli Spidel and Kati Schroyer, and other relatives.

Cali died May 30 at York Hospital Trauma Center after being injured the day before in a car accident as she left FunCastle. She had been go-kart racing with a friend with plans to go to Cowan's Gap next.

"She was a good student," said Greencastle-Antrim High School principal Ed Rife of the 2009 graduate. "She always had a big smile when I passed her in the hall. To lose someone with such potential, it puts everything else in perspective."

While in school, Cali was active in basketball, softball and field hockey.

Her employer, Bentley's Restaurant, closed Thursday through Saturday, explained by a sign on the door "in memory of our dear friend, co-worker and fantastic person who loved life and loved her job." It was signed by owners Bob and Melisa Bentley and the other employees.

Tami Maple knew Cali for years. "She was our waitress, always smiling and happy-go-lucky. She was a wonderful person."

Her daughter Kirstin West, 19, was best friends with Cali through elementary school. The two and Maple's son Dakota West wrote a tribute to Cali. It included the lines "She was definitely one of a kind, A true inspiration in our minds...She always had a smile on her face, Laughing and joking no matter the place... Cali is a true hero in the eyes of many, She's dearly loved and missed by plenty." The poem was tucked into the casket along with other items that defined Cali - a cross, stuffed animals, a trophy, her artwork, a pack of cigarettes.

Pastor Mick Dawes of State Line United Methodist Church, where Cali attended youth group, compared her short life to that of Jesus, too young to die. He said the kingdom of God was in her, through her hospitality, caring service and heartfelt kindness. The first time she waited on him at Bentley's, he saw that she wore a long sleeve T-shirt, and guessed it was a house rule to cover tattoos. It wasn't. Cali had simply covered them so as not to offend customers.

She had eclectic interests — crabbing, fishing, swimming, riding Harley's, watching movies, eating Mexican food and spending time with her family and 'girl crew'. Those 10 young women spoke of their friendship at the funeral service, and then sang 'Happy Birthday'. Cali loved animals, and rescued bunnies in the recent drenching rains. She brought home stray kittens, adopted four animals through monthly pledges to an organization, and kept pets in the house for most of her life.

Tim, Lisa and Whitney Fetterhoff were among the mourners. They found the outpouring of love from the community awesome and called Cali a beautiful girl. Tina Mowen, who knew Cali from church, said she would be sorely missed.

Life after death

Tonya Schroyer found Sunday to be a difficult day, yearning to hear Cali's car in the drive and to chat with her. Though her middle daughter was gone, she felt comfort in Cali's faith.

"She rededicated her life to the Lord two weeks ago at Bentley's, of all places."

Cali had gone through struggles, at one point hospitalized briefly for depression. When another patient was discharged after her and had no where to go, Cali paid for three nights in a motel.

"She taught all of us," said Tonya. "She taught me to get out there and live your life. Hers was short but full."

Tonya was also touched by how many friends Cali had, as evidenced by the turnout over the weekend.

Cali may be gone, but others live or have improved lives because of her. The family donated her organs. Her heart went to a 58-year-old man, her liver to a 68-year-old man, her pancreas and one kidney to a 34-year-old mother of four, her eyes to a child, some tissue to two women for breast reconstruction, leg bones to a child, the other kidney to another person. The greatest miracle, according to Tonya, was her lungs. Because Cali was so tall, they were too long for most people on the waiting list, but on Monday a 6'4" man, a basketball player, became a match. The Schroyers were notified that all the receiving families want to meet them. One transplant nurse already sent a card, letting them know that the recipients grieve for them too, even as they benefit. "You don't realize the impact you have made," she wrote.

The Schroyers believe Cali is dancing in heaven from the news.