Notre Dame community remembers Billy Meckling
Wei Lin | Saturday, May 16, 2015
Billy Meckling was “a soft-spoken person, super selfless and always asking how others are doing. He has the biggest heart,” junior Nicole McKee said.
Meckling, who was set to graduate Sunday with a degree in mechanical engineering, died in the early hours of Saturday after falling off the roof of the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center (JACC).
“He really didn’t have much to say but when he did talk, he always said the right things at the right time,” McKee, who met Meckling three years ago as a member of the fencing team, said. “And he was a great person to go to or talk to and just a genuinely fun, positive person to be around when he decided he was comfortable enough to open up to you.”
Senior Audrey McMurtrie had class with Meckling as underclassmen. McMurtrie described Meckling as a “sincere and a kind-hearted person.”
“He was very dedicated to his studies and always very helpful,” she said. “He always seemed to know what he wanted and was a hard-worker.”
Meckling was a four-year member and two-time monogram winner on the Irish varsity fencing team.
“Billy was a wonderful friend and teammate who left a tremendous impact on our fencing family,” sophomore epeeist Eva Niklinska said. “The warmth of his smile, his charisma and positive energy and dedication to our team will always be remembered.”
“He took on the role of being a huge support system, being the loudest cheerer,” McKee said. “I wasn’t on his squad — I fence foil and he fenced sabre — but from what I could tell from his squad, he always gave advice and be there for support. He was such a good energy to be around, and I’m really going to miss him.”
Two members of the fencing squad have died in the past four months. Daniel Kim, 21, was found dead in his off-campus residence Feb. 6.
“We’re going to band together, say prayers for him and talk about the memories on the Facebook messenger group,” McKee said. “There just a lot going on with our team, but we have a great support system so it’s nice to have each other.
“He had a good soul,” McKee said. “He was genuinely a really, really good person with good intentions for everybody. He’d never wish badly on anyone. He always wished the best for everyone. We’re losing a really great person and my prayers go out to his family.”
Head fencing coach Gia Kyaratskhelia described Meckling in a press release as “an invaluable member of our sabre squad who left such a massive impact on all of us as a fencer and a human being.”
“On the strip, Billy was a talented fencer and a determined worker on a very competitive sabre squad – evidenced by his earned monograms during the 2012 and 2014 seasons.” Kyaratskhelia said. “More importantly, he was a great friend to all members of our program. A true Notre Dame man, his kindness and warmth impacted each and every one of us – and make his loss all the more difficult.”
Meckling was also a resident of Knott Hall until his senior year, when he moved off campus. Brother Jerome Meyer, former rector of Knott, said Meckling was a dedicated member of the dorm community who was friendly to all.
“He quietly went about his life with cheerfulness which made him a pleasure to know,” Meyer said. “I remember him as being serious while being able to enjoy his friends and surrounding. It was a privilege to have him as a member of the Knott Hall community.”
McMurtrie said the news of a student death so close to Commencement made the loss all the more difficult to bear.
“I think the biggest impact was that it was a very sobering moment,” McMurtrie said. “We were having a great time with our closest friends and the people we consider family. We are all on such a high right now, about to graduate and enter the real world, and something like this, where it’s such a horrible unnecessary tragedy, happens. It really sobering, and it reminds us that we are all human, and we’re not invincible.
“ … We’re never more unified as a class than we are now right now, and so I think in that way it makes a loss like this feel very profound. We’re all on the verge of this big, exciting moment, so it’s horrible.”
Meckling will be remembered at the Baccalaureate Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday at Purcell Pavilion. The University Counseling Center and Campus Ministry will be available to students on campus and throughout the Mass.