On January 11th, 2018, Colleen Jo Stamper was killed on Erie St. in Toledo, Ohio around 7:30pm. Families and friends were shocked and were still in disbelief when they were all informed. Facebook blew up with different posts from people that were from Toledo that knew Ms. Stamper.
Collen was born on September 28, 1998 and raised by parents; Rosa Smith and Steve Stamper; and had four siblings: J.R. Smith, Victoria Kelley, Nicholas Driver, and her closest sibling, Cierra Stamper.
Colleen Stamper was 19 years old, an alumni from Calvin M. Woodward in 2016, where she also was in the National Honors Society. Her interests in high school that she excelled so well in included softball, basketball, and volleyball; Stamper was a leader for her teammates and made sure they grew character as players and as people. Colleen was also homecoming queen in 2015.
Colleen was always described as a loud and bubbly girl by most Woodward High School students and adults who knew her. She was an ambitious young woman and had a great work ethic. Anyone whom she met, felt as if they were her best friend. Toledo took a hard one this year because she knew and impacted so many people’s lives.
One such person was Cassandra Salas, the Spanish teacher from Calvin M. Woodward High School. Salas said, “Colleen was always happy, she would come by after school or when she had a class with me to dance.” Salas also said that what she will always remember about Colleen is “a girl who was happy all the time and one of the best influencers for Woodward High School.”
After high school to now, Stamper had managed three jobs through the Otterbein rehabilitation center as an STNA, and in the Toledo Public School’s YMCA afterschool program for elementary school students.
The wake was held on Wednesday, January 17th and the funeral was held the following day at The Freck Funeral Chapel.
Those who attended the funeral and burial described it as a brutal and an unfathomable time. Those who knew and loved Colleen felt heartbroken, especially after seeing how tired and devastated her sister, Cierra, was and how her parents tried to stay strong and hold it together as everyone hugged and gave their respects.
The funeral home was packed the day of the funeral. Over 60 students who graduated from Woodward and those who are still attending, all came and gave their respects to Colleen Stamper. She was the last person everyone thought would leave this unpredictable world first.
After the funeral, everyone got in their cars and followed the procession to the burial site at Forest Cemetery.
Upon approaching Forest Cemetery, people hung out the car windows, standing up, and yelling out Ms. Stamper’s name. They were holding up T-shirts that were made from family members and friends of Stamper.
Funeral goers stood under the tent at the burial site, and although everyone was freezing they stayed because they wanted to see Colleen for just one last time. There was just a long silence after the coffin was carried out of the car.
Instead of saying “goodbye,” family members were heard saying, “see ya later.” And afterwards, they were just are in despair.
It was a freezing day, yet the sun was shining outside, and those present commented that it was all from Colleen that day. After the burial, everyone was invited to go to the hall for the reception of the funeral. When everyone got there and the reception started, it became a celebration for Colleen’s life, not just a time of bereavement and sadness. Friends were taking shots, cheering to Colleen’s life, laughing, and smiling of the old memories that will always be carved in their minds and hearts. They knew that that’s how she wanted them to remember her and that she would want them to be partying and celebrating.
Colleen was not just a person who impacted those from the Woodward High School; she impacted and inspired those of who she worked with, friends, and those with whom she was only acquainted. She will always be remembered and never forgotten. Her legacy lays and flows with us now, she was once a polar bear, and will always be a polar bear.
To Woodward students and staff, Mrs, Salas is raising money for Colleen’s memorial bench on behalf of Stamper’s family and the legacy that she left here on earth. The bench will have Colleen Jo Stamper’s name and picture engraved and will be displayed inside Woodward High School. If anyone would like to donate or make a contribution to this fundraiser, The Spanish Club is taking collections and will also bring the jar to Woodward’s basketball games. Salas is located in room 1102 if anyone would like to contribute to this.