At 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 19, 2011, the family and friends of Alan Lin gathered in Garden Grove’s Crystal Cathedral to remember his life.
The sun intermittently broke through the rain that morning, both flooding the open space within the cathedral’s crystalline structured glass walls, and suddenly plunging them back into the gray expanse of clouds that covered the Southern California sky. The guests lined up at the entrance, slowly, somberly filing in and taking their seats.
After a brief opening ceremony and Scripture reading, an organist played “Amazing Grace” on the Crystal Cathedral’s massive organ; the mighty bass notes seemed to shake the very foundation of the earth. Under that glass ceiling, the gray sky seemed as a woolen blanket. It is incredible how much life gathered in the face of death.
“Today I do not only mourn the loss of a friend, but the loss of a brother,” said Mike, Lin’s friend for 10 years.
As Lin’s friends came to the podium to share their memories, a picture began to emerge of a dedicated, loving, talented and optimistic young man. He was someone who not only always saw the best in people, but one who could also draw those best qualities out.
“He lived a truly happy life,” said Chris Chung, Lin’s classmate since middle school.
Alan Sun-Long Lin was born in Berkeley, California on Feb. 26, 1988. He and his family moved to Irvine, where he attended University High School. He was not only a gifted student, but a talented athlete, writer and artist as well. Lin’s passion, however, was for engineering. He loved to fix anything that was broken, even from an early age. It was no surprise when he decided to enroll at UC Riverside as a mechanical engineering major.
Midway through the eulogy, Dr. Thomas Stahovich, professor and chair of mechanical engineering at the UCR Bourns College of Engineering took the podium to share faculty and student comments. Professor Stahovich began to read:
“Four years of friendship and I never saw him sad, mad or upset.”
“Alan was the type of guy who was a role model to his peers. He was always in the lab working.”
In fact, Alan spent so much time in the engineering lab, writing out new theories, equations and mapping out new concepts on the white board, headphones blasting, that he simply didn’t bother to take his backpack home, simply leaving it in a corner of the room.
Before leaving the podium, Professor Stahovich made a special announcement to Lin’s parents.
“We’ve asked the University of California to confer a posthumous Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.”
The University is currently making arrangements, and Alan’s parents should be receiving the posthumous degree.
Lin’s family held out hope that he would be found safe from Feb. 5, after he was last seen leaving Rudy’s Pub in Newport Beach alone at 1 a.m., until Feb. 13 when he was found floating in the frigid water of Newport Harbor’s Rhine Channel near the Bluewater Grill at about 7:15 a.m. by local residents.
The initial assessment of the body determined that Lin appeared to have died from saltwater drowning and that his body appeared to have been in the water for some time. However, the results of a toxicology report are still pending.
“Even though he was my little brother, I went to him for advice,” said Christine, Lin’s older sister, her voice gently wavering as she gave her eulogy. “We had a bond, a brother-sister bond that cannot be explained by words … the bond was never broken, but in all that time, I never got to say what I wanted to: thank you for always being there.”