UF student killed in crash remembered as caring, outgoing


Published: Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 11:51 p.m.

Radhika Gaur was a talented singer who loved Broadway musicals and African-American spirituals, friends and colleagues said Wednesday.

Gaur, 20, a University of Florida finance major from Jacksonville, died Jan. 15 when her Toyota Camry burst into flames after striking a group of trees on Interstate 10 northeast of Lake City.

A standing room only crowd of friends, teachers, co-workers and UF administrators, as well as students, some with backpacks in hand, paid their respects during an hourlong memorial service at University Auditorium's Friends of Music Room and an adjacent hallway Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the UF Women's Chorale, a large ensemble open to female students without auditions, circled the silent crowd and sang "Wise Old Owl" to commemorate Gaur's life. She was a member of the group.

Gaur's close friend and fellow UF student, Nicole Varma, served as master of ceremonies.

Varma met Gaur three years ago through the South Asian American Student Alliance. The two shared an interest in fashion and Indian dance, attending all Indian-related functions on campus.

"Radhika would call me a week before a scheduled function to discuss what she was going to wear," said Varma, 20, a junior international relations major. "The day of the event, we'd get dressed together and still arrive two hours late."

She recalls getting dressed and dancing around Gaur's Campus Lodge apartment as the best part of the night, despite missing most of the function.

"I can't imagine going to another UF-sponsored Indian event without her," Varma said.

"Maybe I'll be on time for once," she said.

Varma and Gaur had plans to visit England and India when they graduated in the spring of 2006. Varma said she's unsure if she'll make the trip.

Until her death, Gaur worked as a fiscal assistant in the university's Career Resource Center accounting department.

Co-workers described her as a pleasant, wonderful and engaging young woman.

Alicia Bisanti, 21, a senior advertising major, worked in another department of the CRC but always snuck over to visit Gaur.

"I'd find myself constantly laughing when I was around her," she said. "She was a very sarcastic, witty and smart person."

Tanmay Patel, 22, a Santa Fe Community College student, knew Gaur for five months but would never forget the first time they met.

Patel and Gaur were introduced through a mutual friend and saw the movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" together.

The two shared tales about their lives during the whole movie, and Patel took a liking to Gaur's humor and open mind.

"She was a very outgoing, energetic and caring person," he said. "Whether it was work at the CRC, studying or hanging with friends, you could sense her dedication and love in everything she did."

A slide show featuring photos of Gaur from birth to college life closed out the ceremony.

Gaur's twin brother, Siddharth, 20; father, Ravi; and mother, Savita, locked arms at the back of the room while shedding countless tears in between an occasional smile.

Before departing, guests were encouraged to sign a scrapbook,- which will be given to Radhika's parents. Messages for the book still can be e-mailed to Varma at Nicorbok@ufl.edu.

Gaur graduated from Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville before starting at UF in the fall of 2003. She attended on a Bright Futures Academic Scholarship.

Her life goal was to provide quality education and health care to the children of India, said Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president of student affairs.

Gaur was also a member of Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society and the Business Administration College Council.

Chorale conductor Ronald Burrichter said he will never forget Gaur.

"When you looked up at her in the top row of the ensemble section, her eyes would light up with excitement," he said. "She was a very special person."

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