There are few special people whose presence and influence have deeply impacted the lives of others. Aleánna Luethi-Garrecht, a professor, colleague, artist and friend to many was the embodiment of such a special person, missed by those who remain to remember her.
This past Wednesday, a memorial was held in McKenna Theatre for the late Associate Professor of Graphic Design, honoring her life and contributions to SUNY New Paltz.
One former student whom Luethi-Garrecht impacted was recent May graduate, Rebecca Benedict.
“You had to have her or your education wasn’t complete,” Benedict said. “She taught everyone the basics of design … just everything you needed to know about everything. It was such an experience. She was just amazing and we’re all just so devastated.”
Benedict, who received her BFA in Graphic Design, went out of her way to take three classes with Luethi-Garrecht. Benedict said Luethi-Garrecht taught her valuable skills with her teaching style that encouraged students to think outside the box.
“The department’s like a family,” Benedict said. “And she was the godmother of the family. She lived a full life and touched a lot of people. The world is definitely a sadder place without her.”
From her eight years working at SUNY New Paltz, Luethi-Garrecht’s reach can be found throughout the campus and even around the world. According to her New Paltz biography page, her education spanned two continents.
She received her Master’s from the Basel School of Design, Switzerland, a Bridge-Programme certificate from Yale/Brissago, USA, a BFA from Philadelphia College of Art and a certified chef’s OS Culinary Arts degree from the Culinary Institute of America, USA.
One person at the memorial described Luethi-Garrecht’s life as, although cut short in quantity, so full in quality.
Luethi-Garrecht had just been awarded tenure promotion this past summer and had over 20 years of professional experience as a practicing designer for companies including Sunkist Growers, Nestlé, Swiss Milk Producers, Pillsbury, Purina, Mars Company and Consolidated Foods, according to her biography page.
Jason Reginato, another design student of Luethi-Garrecht’s, vocalized his feelings for her through social media.
“I shared two classes with her during the spring semester, but I was aware of her name well before that,” he said. “It was evident that she had a large role in binding a group of initial strangers into something that resembled a weird, caring family.”
On top of the students who spoke about Luethi-Garrecht’s impact the memorial, other noted speakers included her colleagues in the Art and Music Departments, as well as other faculty members and friends who paid tribute by sharing stories and anecdotes about the beloved woman.
The President of SUNY New Paltz, Donald Christian, spoke about Aleánna Luethi-Garrecht’s impact on the college.
“A day like this reminds us that with all the elements that make up a great university, people are the most important,” he said.
Amy Cheng, a professor in the Art Department described her colleague quite eloquently.
“She loved life. She loved food. She had an organic garden and she loved piano. She was so alive.”
Some of Luethi-Garrecht’s artwork can be found displayed on the second floor of the Humanities Building at SUNY New Paltz.