In the last text she sent her brother Ankeet, Krupa Patel said she told him what time she got out of work.
She wanted to tell him she loved him, even though that wasn’t something they usually said to each other. Between tears, family members shared their memories to the hundreds of guests who gathered outside the Martin Luther King Plaza on Thursday to celebrate the lives of Ankeet Patel, Dammie Yesudhas, Jobin Kuriakose and Imtiyaz “Jim” Ilias, the four Sigma Beta Rho fraternity brothers who died last Sunday when an SUV traveling in the wrong direction of I-275 hit their vehicle.
“Please tell the people you love you love them because you never know when you can say it again,” Patel said.
Patel and other relatives, friends and fraternity brothers shared memories and stories, their voices raw with emotion, with rows of teary-eyed guests, many who were relatives and friends and many who never knew the men personally.
USF President Judy Genshaft said the men, who will all be awarded posthumous degrees, were representative of many USF students.
“They had their whole futures ahead of them,” she said. “They loved their fraternity brothers and loved their friends. They were going to make the world a better place. In fact they did.”
Ankeet, 22, had big dreams, Krupa said. He was a finance major and wanted to work for Goldman Sachs.
He’d ask her questions like “What color tie should I wear on my first interview?” or “Will the boss hate me if I wear a better suit than him?” she said.
He was known as “Brother Facetious” in his fraternity, his sister said, and the name was fitting.
He was always smiling and joking around, Krupa said, making people laugh.
“You could yell at him, and he’d just laugh in your face,” she said. “And for some reason, as annoying as it was, you couldn’t help but laugh.”
Jobin Kuriakose, 21, was a political science major and had dreams of becoming a lawyer. His family in Orlando couldn’t be in attendance because his wake was being held that day, but his roommate and fraternity brother, Alan Babu, spoke of Kuriakose, the first person he said he’d often turn to with problems.
Kuriakose had a love for dancing, Babu said, and recently he had taken to dancing to romantic Hindi songs, songs in his family’s native language. He and Jim were recently always playing a song called “Tujhe Dekha To Ye Jaana Sanam,” Babu said, a song that translates to “When I saw you, I understood.”
The fraternity, a multicultural fraternity, provided a way for the men, three of whom were of Indian descent and one who was Bengali, to connect with cultures they were born far away from, Mohsin Hussain, the national chapter’s president, who organized a fundraiser that collected more than $70,000 for their families in less than 24 hours, said.
Imtiyaz Ilias, 20, went by Jim to his friends. He was studying nursing and had dreams of entering the healthcare profession.
His brother struggled to make it through the words he had prepared. He thanked the guests for attending and asked them to keep the men’s memories in their thoughts.
Dammie Yesudhas, 21, the president of the chess club and a mechanical engineer, known for his smile and outgoing personality, liked to play the ukulele, which was in his profile picture on his fraternity site.
His brother took Dammie’s ukele to the podium.
“I can’t really express what I want to say in words,” he said.
Instead, he played his brother’s favorite song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” to a teary-eyed audience, his voice cracking in parts.
Genshaft said though the USF community, was “shaken to the core,” inspiration and strength could be drawn from the memories of the men.
“They were a part of the USF community,” she said. “They will always remain a part of the USF community, forever. ”