Wartburg seminary student killed in Haiti - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wartburg seminary student, Luther alum, killed in Haiti

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Ben Larson, a Wartburg Theological Seminary student and Luther College alumnus, was killed in Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti.

According to a news release from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Ben's wife Renee Splichal Larson and his cousin, Jonathan Larson, are safe in Haiti. A fourth Wartburg student, Sara Thomson, has been reported safe in the city of Jacmel.

Ben and Jonathan, both seniors working on a masters in divinity at Wartburg, were teaching church leaders in Haiti and Renee was working on a thesis.

Ben was also a 2006 graduate of Luther College in Decorah.

Everyone on campus says Wartburg is a community that stands together, no matter how far students may be from each other. Right now many students are still on January-term trips around the globe. Some are keeping in contact through emails and phone calls.

Those who are on campus are just remembering, grieving and praying together. Students and faculty say they can't easily describe their grief for fellow student ben Larson's death.

"Numb is a word you could use. Shock and many tears. We don't know what to say exactly," Ellery Dykeman said.

What they can describe is the wonderful life he had.

"A lot of people say he would give you the shirt off his back, but Ben would give you his hat and his socks and whatever you needed," Corrine Denis said.

Something everyone will say and remember is Larson's music was one of the most memorable things about him.

"I knew when he was coming to our floor on campus because we could hear him singing in the stairwell before he got there," Denis said.

As Wartburg comes together, everyone says what they're doing now is simply praying.

"We're praying for Ben to be sure, and his family and all the loved ones who grieve with them. We are praying for all the victims of Haiti," Wartburg President Duane Larson said.

 President Larson says the other three students are safe at the U.S. embassy and should be back in the United States this week. They are being evacuated through the Dominican Republic.

Message from Wartburg Theological Seminary President Duane Larson:

I am so sorry to have to share this news. I have just spoken with Benjamin Larson's mother, April. It is believed now that Ben has been killed in the Haiti quake. Both Jonathan Larson and Renee Splichal Larson are together safely. They were in the same building as Ben when the quake hit. They made it out, eventually found each other, then returned to St. Joseph Guest House in the attempt to rescue Ben, to no avail.

We understand that Renee and Jonathan will return to the U.S. this week.

We so grieve with his parents, April and Judd; for Renee's loss of her husband; Jonathan's loss of a dear cousin, for our loss of a beautiful friend. Ben's baptismal light burned so brightly in our community and for all who came to know him. We grieve the loss of so clear a proclamation, with eyes twinkling, of Christ's love, compassion, and humor.

I will keep you informed as we learn more. And we continue to pray. With Ben we claim that the Lord of hosts is with us. Would that the Lord "satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love" (Ps. 90).

May Christ's peace be with us,

Duane Larson

Statement from Luther College:

The Luther community extends its prayers and sympathy to Renee, the extended Ulring and Larson families, the Wartburg Seminary community, and all who mourn the loss of Ben, one who burned brightly with passion, service, joy, and creativity given in praise to God and service to others.


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