Late alumna leaves ‘legacy of excellence’

Andrea Wilson

Just weeks after her May graduation, University nursing alumna Eileen Lupton’s life was abruptly ended in a June 29 porch collapse at a Chicago apartment building.

Lupton, 22, had just earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing and planned to begin work at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

The second and third floor porches of an apartment complex in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago collapsed under the weight of an estimated 50 people at a weekend party, killing 12, including Lupton, and injuring 57. Authorities concluded that the collapse was caused by an overloaded structure. The accident spurred a citywide effort to inspect porches and tighten safety standards.

Lupton attended the party with her sister, Elizabeth, who had already left when the collapse occurred. The two had come to meet up with some of their friends from Lake Forest High School in Illinois.

Dr. Carol Weingarten of the College of Nursing, who taught Lupton in two classes during her senior year, said Lupton was an excellent student who was drawn to nursing because of its combination of science and service to others.

Though she always wanted to be a pediatric nurse, Lupton’s time spent teaching over a hundred schoolchildren about health and safety at an impoverished elementary school in Philadelphia inspired her to add teaching to her list of future plans.

“When Eileen walked into a classroom, the children’s faces would just light up,” Weingarten said.

Just two weeks before the accident, Weingarten told a recruiter from a hospital in Chicago that Lupton was “the kind of nurse you would want caring for your own family.”

One of Lupton’s closest friends, fellow nursing graduate Sarah Sharkey, said, “She was someone that people would meet, both guys and girls, and be amazed at her beauty, kindness and sense of humor.”

Joy Penniston also graduated with Lupton last May and took nursing courses with her for four years.

“She had a passion for learning and fun and could always light up a room,” Penniston said. “Her personality was destined for nursing, because she had a natural ability to help people.”

During her time at the University, Penniston said Lupton demonstrated her commitment to helping others through programs like Habitat for Humanity.

“She left a strong legacy of excellence,” Weingarten said. “We mourn her deeply and always will.”

The Luptons have set up a fund in their daughter’s name to encourage others to become nurses. Donations to the fund should be sent to the Eileen Shea Lupton Memorial Scholarship Fund, Lake Forest Bank and Trust, 727 North Bank Lane, Lake Forest, Ill., 60045.