Faculty considers award in honor of deceased graduate

VCU graduate Josie Stone was killed Friday night. Faculty in the department of Mass Communications are now looking to create an award in her honor. Photo courtesy of Christine Stoddard.

Mechelle Hankerson
News Editor

VCU graduate Josie Stone was killed Friday night. Faculty in the department of Mass Communications are now looking to create an award in her honor. Photo courtesy of Christine Stoddard.

Josie Stone wasnt the type of student to give up easily.

Juggling work and school was something Stone seemed to do naturally: While taking Capital News Service in spring 2009, her waitress pad doubled as a reporters notebook for when local politicians visited Penny Lane, the pub she had worked at since 2007.

“She was the hardest worker in CNS that semester,” professor Jeff South said. “Whenever I needed someone to do a story, she would be there. She would drop everything or rearrange her work schedule and make sure she was able to cover it.”

Stone was walking to The National Friday night around 10 p.m. near the downtown Hilton Garden Inn when a valet driver hit her.

She died later that night at VCU Medical Center.

Stone graduated from VCU in May with degrees in print journalism and English.

In her memory, faculty members in the Mass Communications department are in the early stages of developing an award for future CNS classes.

“What we can do is memorialize Josie and honor students who reflect that same kind of energy and passion and work ethic in pursuing the truth and in pursuing journalism,” South said.

South, who had been corresponding with Stone recently about a job offer, described her as “relentlessly upbeat” and “very sweet, polite and energetic.”

VCU student and the founding editor of the online magazine, “QuailBell,” Christine Stoddard said Stone was quirky and likeable.

“Everyone liked her,” Stoddard said. “They were willing to accept her quirkiness.”

According to Stoddard, Stone loved anything related to horror, a stark contrast to her “teeny, spritely blonde” appearance.

“She was obsessed with all things dark, whether it be Victorian vampires or terrible 1970s horror films,” Stoddard said.

“Theres … just this unusual quality about her,” she added. “She was so vivacious, so infectious. You immediately wanted to be her friend.”

South said he and Stone were emailing back and forth about how she had been since graduation when he received the news of her death.

“It was so traumatic in that I had just been talking to her and just learned how well her life had been going, and to find that her life was over was just really a shock,” South said.

Stone would have celebrated her anniversary with husband, John Stone, on Halloween, her favorite holiday. According to Stoddard, Stone was planning on moving to a new apartment on Tuesday as well.

“She wanted to be closer to downtown, closer to the action,” Stoddard said.

Stone was beginning a new job as a technical writer with WellPoint, and Stoddard said Stone and her husband were looking to relocate.

“She and John wanted to move relatively soon,” Stoddard said. “They both loved to travel and go new places. They didnt really have a set idea; they talked about everything from New York to Maui.”

Stoddard said she and Stone had also been looking into moving to New York to continue QuailBell.

“That’s always the saddest part about this,” Stoddard said. “The fact that she was so young, and we spoke about the future very often.”

The department of Mass Communications hopes to have the idea of the award finished and in place by next semester for the CNS class, but plans on remembering Stone in other ways.

“I was already thinking about how to into this semesters pep-talk … lessons we can learn from the way that Josie pursued the art and the practice of journalism,” South said.

Stones case has been referred to the Richmond Commonwealths Attorneys office for review. Her memorial service was held this past Monday at Bon Air Baptist Church.

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