At memorial service, friends say Alnahdi left lasting impression

By University Communications
November 4, 2016
Friends of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi hold candles at the end of a memorial service Thursday, Nov. 3, at UW-Stout.

Photo: Friends of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi hold candles at the end of
a memorial service Thursday, Nov. 3, at UW-Stout.


As the sun set Thursday, Nov. 3, at University of Wisconsin-Stout, one by one Hussain Saeed Alnahdi’s friends offered heartfelt, and sometimes tearful, remembrances of the infectious young man who touched their lives in a special way.

About 1,000 people, including the UW-Stout football team in uniform, attended a memorial service for Alnahdi outside the Memorial Student Center, four blocks from where he was attacked.

Alnahdi, 24, died Monday following injuries he sustained early Sunday downtown, near campus. No arrests have been made in the case, which is being investigated by the Menomonie Police Department.

The memorial service included a prayer in Arabic, a video message from Alnahdi’s brother in Saudi Arabia and comments from UW System President Ray Cross, UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer and other UW-Stout officials.

About two dozen friends and fellow UW-Stout students, most of them American, fondly remembered Alnahdi, 24, a junior majoring in business administration, as an outgoing young man eager to learn English who left a lasting impression on those who knew him.

Alnahdi and his friends loved each other as brothers, said one of his roommates, Tommy “Thomas” Hutson, of Chippewa Falls. “Hussain made it clear that family is not about blood but about love. He taught us that what matters in life is the way we treat other people. He had an obnoxious laugh. I’d give anything to hear that laugh again,” Hutson said. “We will all struggle to carry on in his absence.”

About 1,000 people, including members of the UW-Stout football team, gathered to say goodbye.

Zion Guzman, of Presque Isle, and others lived in an off-campus apartment with Alnahdi, who loved to cook but didn’t like doing the dishes afterward. “I begged him to clean up, but I’d take a lifetime of dirty dishes rather than what happened to him,” said Guzman.

Cortney Woodis, of St. Michael, Minn., said she took Alnahdi home for Thanksgiving last year, and he fell in love with mashed potatoes and gravy. “We all learned so much from him,” she said.

“He’s one of the most genuine people I’ll ever know. He created memories that will last a lifetime,” said Blake Spiegel, a student from Eau Claire.

“He was a model for how you should treat other people,” said Jay Owens, a student from Chanhassen, Minn.

Alnahdi’s brother, in his video message, said Hussain “had big dreams to help his country when he came back. The people there (at UW-Stout) were very supportive of him. He said ‘they became like my family.’”

A couple at the memorial service protest the death of Alnahdi.One of Alnahdi’s teachers, Pamela Onchuck, said he loved to stay up late but then struggled to get to class on time in the morning. “But we could never be mad at him because he was such a positive person,” said Onchuck, an English as a second language teacher who had him in a class over the summer.

Laura Donovan, of Platteville, the Stout Student Association President, said Alnahdi “was truly a light. How do we heal? We do it together. We honor the memory of Hussain and make sure he does not die in our hearts and minds.”

Sandi Scott, Dean of Students who has worked closely with Alnahdi’s friends and with a student liaison to his family, said of the violence that took Hussain’s life, “We are bigger than this. We are better than this. We’ll move forward from this.”

UW-Stout has 142 students from Saudi Arabia this semester, about half of the university’s international student population.

“The Saudi students here are such a gift, and we appreciate all that you bring to our campus and Menomonie,” said Jeanne Rothaupt, from the UW-Stout Counseling Center.

Hussain Saeed AlnahdiChancellor Meyer said the university is taking steps to “make sure this never happens again. Hussain was well-known and loved and a bright, passionate young man with a bright future.”

UW System President Cross told those assembled that healing and moving forward begin with caring. “We must assume responsibility for watching out for, caring for and loving one another … if nothing more than to honor Hussain.”

The service began with a special tolling of the James Huff Stout bell in the Bowman Hall Clock Tower and ended with a candelight vigil. Photos of Hussain with friends played in a slide show throughout the service.

Student Ben Collar, of Appleton, said he used to sit up late at night with Hussain and talk about the differences in Saudi and American cultures. “I could listen to him talk for hours, and sometimes I did. My life feels entirely more empty without Hussain,” Collar said.

reward is being offered for information about Alnahdi’s death. A memorial fund in his name through Stout University Foundation has been established.

Anyone with information about the assault is asked to call Menomonie police investigator Kelly Pollock at 715-231-8511. Anonymous information can be submitted at 855-847-3866 or at Crime Stoppers. You may also text “TIPDUNN” followed by your message to 274637 (CRIMES).

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Photos

Second Photo: About 1,000 people, including members of the UW-Stout football team, gathered to say goodbye to student Hussain Saeed Alnahdi.

Third Photo: A couple at the memorial service protest the death of Alnahdi, who was attacked in downtown Menomonie.

Bottom Photo: Hussain Saeed Alnahdi