RIPON - The spirit of Alison Council was there - in Ripon High’s Stouffer Field football stadium Monday night - there for a hastily orchestrated candlelight tribute in her honor.
Her spirit was there in the hearts of the some 500 friends -- adults and students alike - who filled one set of bleachers with candles in hand. So many of those 500 promise to be at graduation Wednesday night and fresh in their hearts and minds will be their friend Alison who so badly wanted to be sitting there with them.
She was there in the hearts of her husband Warren- principal of Ripona School - and daughter Lauren who both found it difficult to restrain their grief as they stood on the football field numbed by her recent death.
And her spirit was definitely there through Lauren’s friends in her senior class led by Jessica Bender who put it all together checking with her counselors and clearing necessary paperwork.
Alison was bravely holding on to life to be there for her daughter’s graduation from Ripon High on Wednesday. Judging by the affection that was displayed Monday night, Alison will definitely be at graduation in spirit -- in the hearts of many -- especially those hearts of the graduating seniors.
Associate Pastor Hefti Brunold of Heartland Community Church opened with a few words on the school track and Jocelyn Swier provided a solo that would have been meaningful to her friend.
As the crowd was asked to exit the bleachers and come down onto the field to light their candles a more solemn but talkative mood developed. There was a constant flow of friends willing to take the microphone and tell of the special person they had known in Alison Council and just telling how she had touched them and made their lives better.
Students - one after another - told touching stories of Alison’s caring and doing special, out of the ordinary things to make them feel better about themselves.
Cheryl Bunch, a Ripon interior decorator at Schemper’s Hardware, told of her recent major cancer surgery. She said that it was Alison’s spirit held close to her prior and during her hospitalization that gave her the courage she needed to make it through.
Alison Council was one who didn’t believe in giving up on a goal. During her struggle with cancer she told of her many angels that came in the form of everyday people on the street. Angels who were there at just the right time to help her in her fear and in her pain.
She was described at the candlelight ceremony as, in fact, being an angel herself to her many friends. An angel who was always there when anyone needed her help, her touch.
One Ripon High senior told of a sleep over at the Council’s home where she and her friends were awakened by their hostess. Alison had yelled at them to get up that breakfast was ready - an unbelievable demand after being awake most of the night.
“It was the best breakfast I’d ever had,” she admitted Monday night.