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February 19, 2018

Parents of slain Penn student Blaze Bernstein visit campus to mourn with students, staff

Memorials Penn
01152018_Blaze_Bernstein_full Source/

Blaze Bernstein.

It’s been less than two months since University of Pennsylvania sophomore Blaze Bernstein was killed while home in California during winter break.

In the weeks since his death and murder charges being filed against 20-year-old Samuel Woodward, Bernstein’s parents have set up a memorial fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County and spoken publicly about the outpouring of love they’ve received since Blaze's passing.

In anticipation of the student’s campus memorial at the Kelly Writers House on Sunday, Bernstein’s parents, Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper, along with the Penn student's two younger siblings, visited Penn over the weekend to collect what remained at their son's apartment and attend his memorial.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reported on the often painful process of the family packing up Blaze Bernstein's belongings, which was punctuated by weeping, embracing and moments of "utter despair,” as Gideon described to the student newspaper.

Throughout Bernstein’s off-campus Walnut Street apartment, his family found relics of his life: neatly rolled clothes, photo collages, and stacked cans of La Croix, his favorite drink.

“He was good at everything,” Bernstein’s sibling Beaue told the Daily Pennsylvanian. “He just won. He just always won even if he wasn’t trying to compete.”

During the memorial Sunday evening, guests honored Bernstein’s memory – he was known best for his love of food and cooking – by bringing different dishes for a potluck, as well as La Croix. 

Guests were also given black #BlazeItForward shirts, along with a copy of his poem, “Picking Marbles from Dirt,” which was published in the Penn Review when he was still in high school.

“This all has happened for a reason and there has to be a way to enhance and brighten our lives from the amazing legacy [Blaze] has left behind,” Gideon said during the memorial.

“How many good deeds would have been forgotten, how many would be ‘Blazing it forward’ if it wasn’t for you?”