New gathering space at Ohio State honors Northeast Ohio woman’s memory | Lake County

The Lori Ann Reigert ’99 Gateway to Success, a new gathering space for students at The Ohio State University in Columbus, recently was created by the College of Education and Human Ecology in Ohio State’s Physical Activity and Educational Services building as a way to honor the memory of a Northeast Ohio woman. 

Through an endowed fund created by Lori’s father, John, and her stepmother, Eileen, of North Ridgeville, the space has been refurbished with new paint, decor and furniture. It also features a plaque commemorating Lori’s love for her alma mater.

Lori died in 2016 at the age 40. She was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2015, but it was later discovered to be clear cell sarcoma cancer.

At the time of her death, Lori lived and worked in the Willowick area. 

John and Eileen started thinking of what would be the best way to honor Lori, keeping her love of Ohio State in mind.

“She went originally to Lakeland Community College. She started a dance team there and was interested in a lot of things, and she decided to go to Ohio State,” John said. “She stayed in Columbus for the next 20 years. We thought she loved Columbus, she loved Ohio State and why not see what we can do with her inheritance?”

Betsy McCabe, senior development officer with the College of Education and Human Ecology, worked with the Reigerts to establish the memorial.

“We came up with this idea (that) we could fix up an area where the students wait for their advisor, and it’s also an area where a lot of students pass through a corridor,” John said. “It also says in memory of those lost to cancer because we know what people and families who have cancer go through.”

McCabe said it has been a great honor to help the Reigerts memorialize their daughter in a special way. 

“The space is located directly outside of the office of academic affairs for the entire college, so it gets a ton of traffic with students coming in and out every day,” McCabe said. “Previously, we didn’t have a comfortable waiting space where students could gather, collaborate and have fun, so this will be a really nice space where students can be together.”

The space will add to the community and will allow for a better understanding of those who came before others, as well as keeping their memory alive, McCabe said.

“I started working with John and Eileen because they also have a scholarship at the College of Education and Human Ecology in memory of their daughter,” McCabe said. “I already had a relationship with them, and they had mentioned they were interested in having a memorial on campus.”

Once the Reigerts expressed an interest in creating a space in honor of Lori, McCabe started to seek locations that were available that got a lot of traffic, as well as spaces that could use improvement. This led to the establishment of the Lori Ann Reigert Gateway to Success in the PAES building.

“I feel like I’ve really learned a lot about her,” McCabe said. “By all accounts, she was a tremendous woman.”

Lori 2

In her travels, Lori Ann Reigert, an alumna of The Ohio State University and a Willowick resident at the time of her death, explored the rain forests near Seattle, climbed rock formations in the Nevada desert and experienced Brazil, Italy, Greece, Jamaica and Spain. 

In 1999, Lori earned a bachelor’s degree in human development and family science with a minor in sociology at Ohio State. While there, she also was inducted as a member of the Phi Upsilon Omicron Honor Society.

Over the course of her professional career, Lori became a sales and marketing leader. She advanced in her career in sales, marketing and fashion by building relationships and gaining appreciation of her many professional contacts.

Her first job after college was at the Victoria’s Secret home office in Columbus as an assistant textile technologist. Later, she was promoted to production coordinator in purchasing.

“She was a very happy child and happy, young adult,” John said. “She always had a smile on her face and didn’t have a mean bone in her body.

“I always say she was a Renaissance woman,” he added. “She was interested in everything. She climbed mountains, went to the rainforest in Oregon, to Europe even if she had to go by herself, she tried the race cars out west — the fancy race cars. She loved painting, loved art and had a real estate license.

“She just loved everything and was very happy with life.”

Lori’s interest in art and cosplay took her to Hollywood where she attended classes in making and painting latex costume masks for Halloween, her favorite holiday. She greatly enjoyed dressing in elaborate costumes for Halloween and hosting fancy pumpkin carving parties for her friends’ children every year.

John and Eileen will be going down to campus next week to inspect the space, which should be ready by the time school starts in August.

“Lori was fiercely independent and the most loving and caring person we have ever known,” John said. “We hope the memorial reminds people and students, and even professors that there are great people who can do great things.” 

Read More:New gathering space at Ohio State honors Northeast Ohio woman’s memory | Lake County