Campus Remembers Va. Tech Professor

By VICKI SMITH
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 24, 2007; 5:56 PM

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- An Acadian flag draped the wooden casket of Virginia Tech French teacher Jocelyn Couture-Nowak on Tuesday as pallbearers carried it through a campus garden before hundreds of students, teachers and relatives.

"All four corners of the world have come together to weep for Madame and for us here today, for Virginia Tech and our community," student John Welch said as his teacher's husband and three daughters looked on.

"But as they weep for us, we should weep for them because they were not touched by the grace of Madame Couture-Nowak as we were."

Couture-Nowak and some of her students were killed April 16 when gunman Seung-Hui Cho burst into her morning class at Norris Hall and opened fire. Cho killed 32 in all before turning the gun on himself.

Welch said he tries to forget that day and imagines Couture-Nowak in heaven, explaining what a Hokie is.

"I know that when I get across that big drill field in the sky for that one last class with Madame, everyone will know by then what a Hokie is and that she was the embodiment of everything we cherish here," he said.

Couture-Nowak left Nova Scotia to teach at Blacksburg in 2001. Her husband, Jerzy Nowak, is chairman of the horticultural department, and many faculty members brought flowers cut from their gardens to Tuesday's ceremony.

One by one for nearly an hour, friends and family painted a portrait of the woman called "JoJo" by her mother and sister _ an effervescent dynamo who treasured humor, laughter and love.

Gazing at the crowd of hundreds who loved and admired Couture-Nowak, her husband said goodbye softly.

"If there is a heaven," he said, "this is your heaven."


© 2007 The Associated Press