Over 200 gathered in Oxford yesterday to celebrate the life of a radiant young woman.
Ainsley Atwell Wagenseller, 23, a senior student at Miami University died in a car crash on Friday, March 17, 2017 as she was driving home for spring break.
Ainsley lived in Louisville, KY and attended Ballard High School. She leaves behind her father and mother, Judson and Linda Wagenseller, and three beloved sisters, Shelby, Aubrey and Jordan.
At Miami, Ainsley studied nursing and worked at Brick Street, where she and other employees became a family away from home. Her friends and family attest that Ainsley’s passion was to care for others. She was planning to move to Washington D.C. to pursue nursing after graduation this May.
Ainsley played soccer in high school and swam for a local swim team with her sister Shelby, where Ainsley excelled. Shelby fondly recalls sharing mozzarella cheese sticks and French fries with her sister at swim meets.
“We basically did everything together,” said Shelby.
She and Ainsley shared many memories growing up, like watching Mary Kate and Ashley before going to school, sharing clothes and poolside snacks.
“Ainsley was the sweetest person I ever met and the most genuine person I’ve ever met,” she said.
After high school, Ainsley made her own path by attending Miami University, something her sisters had neither done nor mentioned to Ainsley – it was all her own.
“She had the most incredible time here,” said Shelby. “She turned into a different person, not that she wasn’t incredible before, but just this incredible human.”
“She didn’t just blossom, she exploded,” said Jud Wagenseller of Ainsley’s experience at Miami. “I recognized she had become a bold, confident young woman on a visit home in May her sophomore year for a gathering to celebrate Jordan’s pending nuptials. She was still quiet, perhaps deferential, around her sisters, but she was clearly different. She had become every bit as formidable, in her own way, as her sisters,” he wrote in a facebook post.
Over 200 people gathered at the Oxford United Methodist Church yesterday at 5 p.m. for a bright memorial service for Ainsley. A casual gathering at Brick Street followed the service, where students wrote messages and their favorite memories of Ainsley in a scrapbook. The bar wrote “Ainsley” on its marquee to honor her life. Her father said that she would not have stayed at Miami through her five years, if not for the family she found at the bar.
“Today we are celebrating Ainsley’s life because she was full of life,” said Rev. Dr. Arun Paul, who spoke at the memorial service.
Her three sisters and two friends spoke after Rev Paul’s message, sharing stories of Ainsley’s infectious love and compassion. Everyone laughed at the story of how Ainsley nearly cut her thumb off trying to open a pepper shaker, smiled at the adorable stuffed animal “Sealy” given to Ainsley by her sister during their trip to Alaska last summer and cried for how deeply they are going to miss her.
“I have learned from her to live everyday trying to just live positively and with no regret,” said friend Jaclyn McCurdy.
“She was not only in touch with her own emotions but also those of her loved ones,” said Autumn Eston, who shared a room with Ainsley during Eston’s last semester. Their beds were just an arm’s reach apart. “She was one of the best friends you could ask for.”
Rev. Paul shared a highlighted passage from Ainsley’s bible, found in the car after the crash, and he asked those at the service to ponder what Ainsley had pondered herself.
“You valued that precious life. Maybe you’d stop and think, what is the meaning of life? Why have I come into this place to think of Ainsley once again?” said Rev. Paul.
Contributions can be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to raise money for type 1 diabetes research on a donation page created by the Wagenseller family. Ainsley was the president of the Miami University Diabetes Network.