Saying goodbye to Al and Jan Studesville
Madison mourns the loss of two community leaders
Yes, there were tears shed in the Mitby Theater on Saturday.
No one would expect all 650 pairs of eyes in attendance at Saturday's memorial service to stay dry, even though organizers tried labeling the sad occasion as a "celebration."
That said, applause and laughter filled the auditorium. And often.
"My heart just hurt, and I just couldn't believe it," Inis Ragland said.
Ragland helped to found the 100 Black Men of Madison 19 years ago. He said Al Studesville was an integral part of the organization catching on in the area.
"Just very hard to think of going forward without them," Ragland said.
Ragland, along with his band of red-shirted brothers in 100 Black Men of Madison, took the stage Saturday afternoon at Madison College. He was one of many to share memories of Al and Jan Studesville.
The Studesvilles were killed in a motorcycle accident in rural Texas earlier this month. A truck driver was reaching for a candy bar when he drifted into oncoming traffic.
"They were just good people, and they'll be really missed," Ragland said.
Song, prayer, and memories were all shared at the celebration service.
The event included words from the ladies of Women In Focus, a non-profit group Jan Studesville was supposed to lead as president in the coming year.
Many stories prompted laughter with mentions of disco suits and Speedos. Al Studesville was known for his colorful attire and personality, and service attendees were encouraged to dress as Al would have wanted.
Al Studeville's three brothers were in attendance, boasting about the couple's lifetime of accomplishments. Larry Studesville said his brother’s legacy will go on through all of the organizations he was involved in.
"He tried to help as many people as he possibly could both in his career and his private life, and Al was just one of those characters that was just significant in Madison, and I don't think Madison is ever going to be the same," Larry Studesville said.
Flowers covered the lobby outside of the theater, all donated from all over the country. Some of the cards were from NFL teams, a reminder that their son is a running back coach in the league.
Pictures pinned up everywhere around those bouquets showed the pair on vacations, on motorcycles, and on their wedding day. More than anything, the photos showed the Studesvilles' smiles.
"We're just so very proud of them and what they've accomplished in their lifetime and it's just, what a tribute with the turnout from the community for Al and Jan," Larry Studesville said.
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