Friends, family remember 2014 Notre Dame grad Hannah Turgeon
Mary Steurer | Monday, November 25, 2019
Friends and family were never far from Hannah Turgeon’s thoughts.
She was the kind of person to always leave a gift, or note, just to show she cared. The kind to always make time for others.
“I can’t remember a time when you proposed something to do and she was like, ‘Okay, sure,’” Melanie Trivella, one of Hannah’s best friends and a fellow 2014 alumna, said. “She was always like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’”
The kind who always saw the best in everyone.
“She would always use at least three adjectives to describe everyone and everything, and they were usually superlatives,” Trivella said. “Everyone was the best and the prettiest and the smartest.”
Hannah, a 2014 Notre Dame graduate, died in a hit-and-run accident Oct. 13 while in South Bend for the Notre Dame-USC football game. She was 27.
A McGlinn Hall resident for all four of her years at Notre Dame, Hannah found a place in her dorm community right away.
“Hannah was one of those people that you just got to know early on,” McGlinn rector Sr. Mary Lynch said.
She was devoted to McGlinn’s Big Sister Little Sister program, where girls from St. Adalbert Catholic School in South Bend would spend Saturdays with hall residents.
“It was our effort to help those little girls realize that [Notre Dame] not such an impossible reach for them,” Lynch said.
Hannah would spend hours leading the girls in activities like baking or arts-and-crafts, Trivella said.
“I just kind of remember her always running around trying to get stuff together for the girls coming,” Trivella said.
Hannah was instrumental in strengthening the Big Sister Little Sister program, Lynch said. The program has continued most years since her graduation, with Fisher Hall hosting similar activities for St. Adalbert boys.
For her dedication to Big Sister Little Sister, Hannah was given the 2014 Sr. Kathryn A. Haas Award, presented each year to a McGlinn senior who sets herself apart in service and leadership in the hall community.
An art history major, Hannah also excelled academically. Her freshman year seminar professor, Robin Rhodes, remembers her turning in a particularly impressive first essay, though the assignment is usually a stumbling block for first-year students.
“It was one of the very best papers I’ve gotten for a first paper in that seminar,” he said.
She went on to earn a strong reputation across the department, Rhodes added.
Hannah’s father, Paul Turgeon, said despite her academic success, she stayed deceptively humble.
“She was famous for being stressed out and studying too much and thinking her papers were no good,” Paul Turgeon said. “Then she’d get all A’s, and they’d use her paper as an example.”
After graduation, Hannah would eventually settle in Denver working as the executive assistant to entrepreneur and former Colorado state treasurer Brian Watson.
In keeping with her love of the arts and passion for service, Hannah began her own handmade card company, “I’m Bringing Crafty Back,” in 2017. She sold over 200 cards since its debut on Etsy.
In late 2018, “I’m Bringing Crafty Back” partnered with coffee and retail company Generous International to fund nonprofit work in developing communities around the world. Generous International will dedicate one of its new houses in Honduras to Hannah’s memory, Paul Turgeon said.
Born Dec. 25, Hannah had a lifelong love of Christmas — earning her the family nickname “Hannah Claus,” Trivella said.
“We always worried, ‘Boy, she could feel cheated because her birthday is Christmas,’ and so we would celebrate it for the entire month,” Paul Turgeon said.
Naturally, Hannah was in her element during Christmas season at Notre Dame, Lynch said.
“People were always happy when she was in their section, because when they did the Christmas decorations in the section, they could count on her to have some really good ideas,” she said.
She was constantly thinking of others — always going the extra mile to make those around her feel loved, Trivella said.
“She told everyone that she loved them or that they were a great friend or they were a great sister, a great dad,” she said. “And a lot of that was through the homemade cards that she would make. … Everyone has all those memories to keep and to read.”
In Hannah’s memory, the Turgeon family began a scholarship fund for McGlinn students, students from Los Angeles and Denver and those who serve in South Bend schools.
The family is accepting donations at https://giving.nd.edu