Lucas Frerking loved Mock Trial during his time at Hillsdale. Wikimedia Commons.
Lucas Frerking loved Mock Trial during his time at Hillsdale. Wiki­media Commons.

Remem­bered by his peers as an exu­berant member of the mock trial team, former Hillsdale College student Lucas Frerking com­mitted suicide on Nov. 18 in his hometown of Waverly, Iowa, at the age of 23.

“He loved his time at Hillsdale,” Frerking’s father, Dave Frerking, said. “He may be most famous for being one of the only few regatta cap­tains to make it across the pond and back in the annual fall naval battle.”

Lucas Frerking enrolled in Hillsdale in fall 2012. In his three years on campus, he was known for his spon­ta­neous bursts of humor and enthu­siasm among his friends. Whether it was per­fectly playing the role of a quirky witness in mock trial or enthu­si­as­ti­cally running books back to their shelves as a worker in Mossey Library, Frerking adored student life at Hillsdale.

“Lucas savored his time at Hillsdale,” Frerking’s grand­mother, Shirley Frerking, said. “He absolutely loved it there. He didn’t have enough good grades to keep his schol­ar­ships. But after leaving, it seemed like things were getting better for him. What hap­pened was a mystery.”

Shirley Frerking said after leaving Hillsdale, Lucas Frerking took a year off and worked at the library back home in Waverly and vol­un­teered at his church. This year, he enrolled at the Uni­versity of Northern Iowa, where he was con­tinuing his studies in history and pol­itics. Several days before his death, he dropped out.

“It was a mystery to me,” Shirley Frerking said. “That whole year off, he did nothing. But he was an active vol­unteer at the church. He set up the church before the ser­vices and cleaned it up afterward. He didn’t seem depressed, just unam­bi­tious. It’s a mystery that this hap­pened.”

Stu­dents who knew Lucas Frerking said he was a quiet, serious student in the classroom. But outside of it, he was far from shy.

Senior Gwen Hodge was on the mock trial team with Frerking during her freshman year. She said her favorite memory of him was when he was assigned the fic­tional role of “Rory the Ratcher Raptor” — an amusement park mascot who was in the wrong place at wrong time and ended up as a witness in a case.

“He wore these super col­orful green clothes and spoke like Doug the dog from the movie ‘Up,’” senior Gwen Hodge said in between laughs as she recalled the memory. “None of the judges for the com­pe­ti­tions could keep a straight face and burst out laughing. They gave him top ranks, naming him the best witness in the whole com­pe­tition.”

Frerking was involved in mock trial at Waverly Shell-Rock High School and carried his skills to the Hillsdale team. During prac­tices and downtime between com­pe­ti­tions, his team­mates said Frerking’s ability to crack jokes helped cheer up everyone.

“If we didn’t win, he was always being opti­mistic,” Trimmels said. “He’d go around saying, ‘Don’t worry guys, we’ll get them next round,’ and would always have goofy obser­va­tions and impres­sions. He was an incredible teammate.”

In addition to com­peting in mock trial, Frerking also worked in the campus library. According to an obituary written in his hometown news­paper, Frerking found solace when he was sur­rounded by thou­sands of books.

“He was an engaged observer of human nature,” the obituary stated. “An avid reader. A col­lector of words. And a con­summate sto­ry­teller.”

Public service librarian Linda Moore was Frerking’s adviser when he came to Hillsdale. She hired him that fall to work in the library because of his pre­vious expe­rience.

“He had a great sense of humor but was also a quiet and diligent worker,” Moore said.

Moore’s favorite memory of Frerking was during the annual “library olympics,” a mul­titude of com­pe­ti­tions ranging from book cart racing to dashing to retrieve the proper book when given Dewey Decimal Clas­si­fi­cation coor­di­nates.

“The stu­dents come up with all the games,” Moore said with a smile. “He was perhaps the most enthu­si­astic par­tic­ipant. He was inter­ested in things, and he was very fun to have around.”

Frerking was buried at Oak Wood Cemetery in Pella, Iowa, on Nov. 25. Con­do­lences can be sent to 403 Second St. S.E., Waverly, Iowa, 50677.

“Luke will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” Dave Frerking said. “Each of us will carry a piece of his light in our hearts for the rest of our days.”

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.