LT graduate dies of COVID-19

LaGrange community comes together in midst of tragedy

Photo+of+Michael+Lang+courtesy+of+Kady+Lang

Photo of Michael Lang courtesy of Kady Lang

Claire Williams , Managing Editor

LT graduate and University of Dayton freshman Michael Lang ‘20 died on Oct. 22 from COVID-19 at the age of 18. In the wake of his death, the LaGrange community has come together to honor and commemorate his life. 

Lang was a great friend, son and brother. He was described as happy, social and compassionate by his mother Kady Lang. Friend Dane Butikofer ‘20 added that he had a great sense of humor.

“Michael was probably one of the funniest kids I knew,” Butikofer said. “He was just, he was always himself. I don’t even know if he tried to be funny, but [he] was just funny.”

Lang was a caddy and enjoyed golf. He also enjoyed skiing, bowling and fishing, his mother said. 

“Our junior year at LT, we thought it’d be a great idea to join the bass fishing team,” Butikofer said. “That never actually ended up happening, but we just loved to fish, and we had always gone to his grandpa’s, and fishing there was a good time.”

While he never joined the fishing team, Lang was a member of the bowling team. He joined his sophomore year and played on varsity his junior and senior year. 

During his senior year, Lang grew into a quiet leadership role, head varsity bowling coach Gary Morrill said. Despite not making it on the state lineup his senior year, he still went down to support the team at Regionals. 

“We were not bowling well whatsoever,” Morrill said. “We went out to our bus to eat lunch, and I talked to the players about what was going on and that kind of stuff. A while after I got off of it, Michael got on and talked with the kids. When they came back in the afternoon for the final three games, our kids had a lot more energy, and we came out and we bowled extremely well. The guys told me afterward ‘yeah, Coach, Michael got on the bus.’”

 As a player, Lang had strong composure during matches, assistant varsity and head JV bowling coach Paul Godinho said.

“When he competed, you could never tell his emotions easily, even when he was having a great day,” Godinho said. “He’s not one of those kids who got really very excited and happy about it. He will give you that smile. He had a smile when he was having a good day, and we knew he was enjoying himself.”

Lang’s quiet focus extended beyond bowling and into the classroom. His freshman English teacher Jessica Roessler remembers how he stood out in her restless eighth period class.

“He added a friendliness [to the classroom],” Roessler said. “Even when he didn’t participate, he was a good listener, like you could see he was engaged. Michael would sit there and smile and nod at you like he was following along. He was listening, and you got a sense that somebody’s got it. And he [could] get those around him to focus a little more too.”

English was his favorite subject, his mother said. He was a strong analytical writer and would often get the highest grade in the class on analytical essays, Roessler said. His essay on “The Things They Carried” stood out in particular because of his interest in the themes of the book.

“I just remember that when he was interested in what we were studying, that’s when he came out of his shell,” Roessler said. “When we studied stories or parts of stories that he was into, I would get a real sense of who Michael was.”

Since Lang’s death, the LaGrange community has honored his life by adorning trees with red ribbons. On Oct. 30, the day of the funeral, his fellow caddies also came out to celebrate Lang’s memory, Butikofer said. About 100 LaGrange Country Club caddies lined the path from the funeral home to the church on Brainard Avenue.

“The support from the community has been outstanding,” Lang’s mother said. “We are so fortunate. During this difficult time and loss of our son Michael, so many people around us have reached out. Aside from all the ribbons around town, people have provided meals and really helped us out. We are extremely grateful.”

 

For students grieving at LT, the Student Services Division provides grief support in a variety of ways, Division Chair of Student Services Leslie Owens said. This can range from crisis counseling in times of tragedy, a “check-in” with a counselor or social worker, or more on-going support. Students wishing to use these services should contact their counselor.