Goshen College student Ezra Kipruto Kogei died at South Bend Memorial Hospital on Saturday after sustaining serious injuries in a car accident earlier that week. Kogei was a sophomore nursing major from Eldoret, Kenya, and a member of the men’s cross-country team. 

Those who knew and loved Ezra share memories of his life and the ways in which he impacted them: 

Jo-Ann Brant (with Joe Springer), Ezra’s host parents — 

“Soon after Ezra moved into our home, he mentioned that ours was the first American home into which he had entered even though he had been in the United States for a year. He was very curious about our lives and any activities in which we were engaged. When he found me weeding my garden, he grabbed an unused shovel and began to dig. I did have to rescue a few perennials before they were uprooted. As I labored over formatting a “Mennonite Quarterly Review” issue for the printer, he watched over my shoulder for quite some time before commenting that he could never do something so tedious. Nevertheless, as I was trying to preserve fresh grape leaves while still on the vine, he asked for a spare paintbrush and helped cover them one by one with Mod Podge. We appreciated Ezra’s easy laugh, wry sense of humor and the care he showed us when our good friend Peter Shetler died. We miss his physical presence in our home but we will carry his memory in our hearts.” 

Rustin Nyce, Ezra’s cross-country coach — 

“I hope Ezra is remembered by all who knew him by his present smile and the way he could easily connect to anyone.  There are a few individual stories that are meaningful, but most important to me was our last conversation where he shared his passion for the sport of running.  He spoke highly of his teammates and kept saying they are so good.  He came to Goshen searching for a community and left ours a better place.  My favorite story of his was his 40K training run in the forest in Kenya.” 

Nelson Kemboi, Ezra’s friend and teammate — 

“This is one of the hardest times of my life… losing a teammate/brother. One thing I will keep in the memory of late Ezra is how dedicated he was in practice and out of practice. He would never say no when you asked for a favor; he would rather leave anything he was doing just for your comfort. I got to learn a lot in the past two months from him, life-wise and as a teammate. I remember him challenging me to run a 4:43 in the first mile of a 5-mile run in Louisville, which I had never done before — he always saw potential in me. From that moment on I cherished his daring ability. It has been hard for me to cope with his absence. His arrival at GC was a light to me and my teammates… his absence is a huge blow to us, and it’s sad that my plans of me and him winning at Crossroads League will never come. His humorous behavior will be missed in our team and the entire community. Rest in peace, my hero. ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20). Mama Ezra and the entire family — take heart!”

Goshen College will host a memorial service on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m. in the Church-Chapel sanctuary. The service will be preceded by an open-casket visitation at 1:30. All are welcome to attend a reception in the Fellowship Hall following the service. 

If you would like to support Ezra’s family in Kenya, please make donations through his GoFundMe account: https://gofund.me/1341e275.