Colby Elizabeth McDaniel, an ACU freshman and lifelong Fort Worth resident, died unexpectedly in her home the morning of Dec. 21, 2014.
Colby had recently celebrated her 19th birthday on Oct. 12 and seemed to be in perfect health, family members said. She was pronounced dead at 10:37 a.m. at a hospital after being found unresponsive in her home. Her cause of death is still undetermined.
A 2014 graduate of Southwest Christian School, McDaniel came to ACU in the fall as a music major and performer in the University Chorale. Gifted with a beautiful voice and a talent for acting, she spent much of her life performing in musical theater and choirs. She was planning on performing in the freshman act at Sing Song this spring.
Colby’s death occurred on the same day as the wedding of her cousin, Garrett Jones. Garrett’s sister, Haley Jones, was close to McDaniel and said the support of family, friends and community was the only thing that got her through the day. That same community support has helped her and Colby’s sister, Taylor McDaniel, in returning to school and celebrating Colby’s life while mourning her loss.
“The support that I got from people at the wedding was from a lot of our friends and family, people from the ACU community and people from home, just people from all over who had come to wedding, so that was really cool,” Jones said. “But also, later when I posted on the Siggie Facebook page what had happened, I immediately started getting texts and calls and just a lot of people showing support. A ton of people from ACU came to the funeral just for support. I didn’t know everyone there, but having some of my closest friends come there to support me was amazing.”
A good student and hard worker, Colby had always dreamed of going to ACU, which many of her family members also attended. Taylor and Jones said the strong faith and dedication to Christ that drew Colby to ACU was also reflected in her personality and the way she treated others.
“I think the first thing that comes to mind for me is that she’s always been so supportive of her friends and family,” Taylor said. “We didn’t get along all the time, which is just a sister thing, but she never held things against me and always forgave me and was always willing to put our relationship back together. And even with her friends, when they’re going through hard times, she’ll be there for them, is always very supportive emotionally and always wanted the best for them… She was a really great person in general.”
Colby’s funeral took place Dec. 27, 2014 at the McDaniels’ church, Altamesa Church of Christ. ACU also held a memorial service in a Come to the Quiet Chapel on Tuesday during which President Phil Schubert spoke in her memory and dozens of students took the opportunity to write letters of support to the McDaniel family.
“We know that Colby is resting in God’s arms, just like we are,” Schubert said. “We may not be able to see her or meet her physically, but we know that day is coming when we will be reunited with her because that’s the promise of God’s forgiveness.”
“I know Colby would want us to rejoice in the times we got to spend with her,” he said. “She would want us to not forget her, but instead to realize the special and unique and wonderful person that she was.”
Memorial donations in Colby’s name may be made to Altamesa Church of Christ, Southwest Christian School or ACU’s Vision in Action Campaign.
McDaniel is survived by parents Alan and Alice McDaniel; sister Taylor McDaniel; grandmother Shirley McDaniel; aunts and uncles Jan Jones, Stephen and Judy Jones, Scott and Anita McDaniel and Sally and Wade McCoy; as well as cousins, friends and extended family.
To read further about Colby and her family, visit sincerely-haley.blogspot.com.