Trinity Lutheran Church has hung a plaque on a gate between its property and the Delta Gamma sorority house on 34th Street to remember house director Stephanie Markert, who passed away from injuries sustained in a hit-and-run car accident last year.
“I think it’s a way to honor Stephanie for her loyal service to the Drake community and specifically to the Delta Gamma house,” said John Schneller, a trustee at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Schneller mentioned two goals for putting up the plaque.
“I thought it would be a good way to keep her in mind of the students, and also to remind people to drive safely, because Stephanie should be alive today, except for carelessness,” Schneller said.
Schneller said that Trinity Lutheran has previously provided fraternities and sororities with a location to hold initiations, and he said he proposed the idea of hanging up a plaque to the church council. The plaque was placed on a gate that connects the back of the Delta Gamma house with Trinity Lutheran’s parking lot.
Glenda DePenning, the current house director, said Delta Gamma members use this path frequently.
“Well, they could go up three houses and use the Drake sidewalk, but it’s just easier just to come through the [gate] by our garage,” Schneller said. “It’s been going on that way for forty years. Maybe fifty years.”
According to DePenning, the responsibilities of a house director include house maintenance and procuring products such as light bulbs and batteries. DePenning also said that her position can be a “mom-type role.”
“A lot of the girls will, you know, just come and chat. You know, lean on you a little bit for advice,” DePenning said. “I love it, yeah. We’ve got a great group of girls.”
Members of the Delta Gamma house declined to comment. Delta Gamma released the following press release in response to Markert’s death:
“The Delta Gamma sisters at Drake University are heartbroken to share the news of the passing of our House Director Stephanie Markert. She filled our house with her vibrant energy and light and held all of our Delta Gamma sisters close to her heart. Our thoughts are with her family as they grieve, and we are grateful for the support we have received from the Drake community and those who knew her. Steph’s lively personality and caring nature was felt by all and she will be dearly missed.”
The Des Moines Register quoted a statement from Markett’s family and reported that a man was sentenced to five years in prison for the hit-and-run.
“So many friends and thousands of sorority ‘daughters’ across the country join Stephanie’s children, grandchildren and family in mourning the loss of our mom,” Markett’s family said, according to the Register.
Schneller said he hopes that students who see the plaque will remember “how fragile a person’s life can be.”
“And to be careful,” he added. “Whether you’re driving, whether you’re a pedestrian, whether you’re running, or any endeavor.”