If it is difficult to find one story that captures the caring personality of Asher Strobel, it is because there are so many stories to tell.
Strobel, a Binghamton University student who passed away at the age of 21 on Jan. 6 as a result of a sudden medical condition while vacationing in Wyoming, is described by friends as an extraordinarily kind, compassionate and, above all, selfless individual.
“Asher embraced everything and everyone with a smile,” said BU senior Samantha Richmond. She was one of many to speak at a memorial held for Strobel at Chabad at Binghamton at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Hundreds of people attended the service — a testament to his impact on those around him.
Richmond recalled a time she was working on a campaign to collect clothing for the homeless. When she ran into Strobel in an elevator on campus, he asked what she was doing. When she told him, he said he was sorry he had not known sooner, as he had clothing he could have donated. Feeling obliged to give, he ran back to his room and retrieved one of his own shirts for Richmond’s cause.
“A literal shirt off his back,” noted Rivkah Slonim, the education director of Chabad at Binghamton, who led the evening’s memorial.
Slonim, who knew Strobel through Chabad, said Strobel was an “example of someone who made it his business to make a difference.”
He made a difference not only in his material contributions, but in his ability to befriend others and make them feel special.
Sophomore Jessie Rubin, who spoke on behalf of Hillel, said that though she never had the opportunity to know Strobel very closely, “because of his genuine charm, he was always surrounded by friends.”
Many others shared stories and memories of Strobel throughout the service, which showed his captivating personality and his staunch commitment to treat every person with respect and care. From stories about his tireless efforts to repay a friend for a shared meal to his devoted attempts to plan an outing with friends even when schedules made it difficult, Strobel’s propensity for making others feel special shined through.
Strobel studied at BU’s School of Management and was preparing for a career on Wall Street. He interned with global financial services company UBS in Manhattan.
When not at BU, Strobel lived in Englewood, N.J. with his parents, Ron and Diane, as well as his three brothers, Joshua, 24, Aryeh, 18 and Joey, 10.
Ron Strobel expressed his thanks at the memorial to the large community of those who knew Strobel and for the stories they shared that evening.
“Every story is a treasure now to me,” he said.
He also encouraged people to carry on his son’s legacy.
“Think of one quality of Asher that you really admired … and incorporate that into your being,” he said.
Ron Strobel recalled one story in particular that was a sign of Strobel’s gregarious approach to life.
One summer, Strobel regularly attended the training camp of the New York Giants. Strobel became acquainted with the players, and before long he was invited into the locker room and had dinner with the team. Ron Strobel remembers receiving a call from his son and being perplexed.
“Dad, you’ve got to speak to Shaun!” Strobel said, to which his father replied, “Shaun who?”
It was Shaun O’Hara, who plays center for the Giants.
“He was able to befriend the players,” Ron Strobel said. “He immediately ingratiated himself with [them].”
For Diane Strobel, the stories were windows into a more wonderful life.
“There were a lot of little stories,” she said, but she felt the true story of Strobel was not so much any one story, but rather the spirit and vitality he brought to every aspect of his life.
“It was such a gift to have him for the 21 years he was with us,” she said.
BU Interim President C. Peter Magrath attended the service as well.
“It hurts. It hurts terribly, but spiritually he lives and is present, I believe, here right now,” he said.
Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, and Upinder Dhillon, dean of the School of Management, also attended the memorial.
Strobel’s younger brother Aryeh said he “knew that Asher was a special older brother.” He recalled the last hour he spent with his brother when they were working out at the gym.
“He encouraged me to work harder,” Aryeh said, not to stop just when he began to get tired.
Aryeh also remarked on Strobel’s strong connection with Judaism.
“To all of us, Asher was a role model and taught us to lead a life of emet: truth,” he said. “I will always try to make him proud.”