WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Looking out on a crowd at Indian Meadows Country Club Tuesday night, Bob Marriott spoke of his late daughter's smile and her distinctive dimples, before imparting his final message: "have fun."
"That's something I want to remember," Bob said, continuing to recount some of the fondest memories of his daughter. "I hope everyone has an awesomely fun time tonight, remembering Lizzi."
The night of remembrance for Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott, a University of New Hampshire student who was murdered in October, was put on by the Westborough Athletic and Social Association, with all proceeds going to The Lizzi Marriott Intrepid Explorer Fund.
Reading an excerpt of Lizzi's college essay, Bob noted where the fund's name had been drawn:
"Some day, I'm determined to be a prominent figure when it comes to protecting our oceans. I want to help everyone when it comes to learning the wonders of our surrounding waters. But until then, I'm more than happy to be the intrepid ocean explorer, arm deep in the tank," Bob read.
The fund is intended to provide financial assistance to Westborough students interested in the field of marine biology, a subject with which Marriott was enamored, said Bob.
Also speaking at the event was Jonathan Pennock, the director of the marine program at the University of New Hampshire. Marriott had been attending the university, and living with her aunt in Dover, before her October disappearance.
"When I look out, what I see is incredibly deep passion in these students, like Lizzi," he said, commenting on how important the Intrepid Explorer fund will be to marine biology education.
"What's really important is that there are some students like Lizzi who have figured it out. They become the leaders for their peers, and they really become the leaders for us, as academics, as teachers, as we move through. That's why I do what I do."
Slideshows were projected on the walls in three adjacent rooms, scrolling through pictures ranging from baby photos to school trips and entertaining several in the packed halls.
Over 500 tickets had been sold prior to the event at $25 per person, said one worker, and there was slight concern the fire code might be an issue due to the extremely high turnout.
That wasn't the case, as there was room for the guests to mill between a buffet, cash bars and silent auction items before live music by the band Outta Commission began.
"This event is in remembrance of Lizzi, but it's so much more," Bob said.
"We hope to help many other figures become prominent figures who will protect our oceans and teach us about the wonders of our surrounding waters."