Student gave back to others – Stories worth telling – Rowan’s Colette Bleistine

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June 10, 2012

Written by
Courier-Post Staff

Colette Bleistine

Following is an excerpt from Christina Mitchell’s online feature, Lives Well Lived.

After Colette Bleistine died May 21 — spent from a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis — several people told me I simply had to write about her.

In her 22 years, Colette was undiminished by a devastating disease. Her enthusiasm and refusal to give in to illness were not to be believed, they said. So it’s fitting to focus not on what took the college senior but what made her such a bright light. And I can’t say it any better than those who knew her.

Larry Litwin, Colette’s former professor and academic adviser at Rowan University, recalled when he first met the Washington Township native and transfer student:

With a firm handshake, the new student told me she was Colette Bleistine. … My immediate thought: I was looking at a TastyKake. … All the good things wrapped up in one.”

Harriet Reaves of Newark was among those who wrote seven pages of tributes attached to Colette’s online obituary:

I thank God that I had the fortune to meet and spend time with Colette. She left a legacy of giving, caring and selflessness and is an example we can all follow.

David Hackney, also a Rowan professor:

She made such a difference in the world in her short life. She would have made an even greater difference had she been granted the gift of time.

Colette’s mother, Nancee, put it simply when she alluded to her only child’s community spirit:

She used all her challenges to make the world better.

Colette once said her greatest reward was giving back to the community. “Paying it forward,” she said in a Web interview, “is the greatest feeling in the world.”

As Lincoln might have said, it is often “the better angels of our nature” that impacts others.

To that army of spirits, add Colette Bleistine.

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