U Holds Vigil In Honor of Resident Doctor


By Mandi Johansen


Following the tragic death of first-year resident doctor Sarah Hawley, a candlelight vigil was held on Monday night at the University Guest House. Friends, family and colleagues united together to celebrate the wonderful life that Dr. Hawley lived and to remember the happiness that they shared together with her during her vibrant life.

Police say Dr. Hawley was killed by her boyfriend, Travis Geddes, in their home in Sugarhouse on the night of Jan. 27 before he then killed himself.

On Feb. 4, a vigil was hosted in Hawley’s honor, conducted by Reverend Susan Roberts, the Senior Chaplain at University of Utah Health. While looking around the room at those who came to support each other in their memory of Dr. Hawley, Roberts remarked, “This is who Sarah is … she is still with us. You are those who were touched by her life and therefore share a piece of her story.” She invited those in attendance to share memories of Dr. Hawley.

Colleagues and friends shared touching stories about Dr. Hawley’s kindness and ability to spread happiness wherever she went. She supported others and according to Dr. Kirsten Stoesser, program director of the family medicine residency program, “Although she was the strongest hiker, she always hung back with the slowest person to make sure they were okay.” She remarked also that this loss was “like losing one of my own family.” The sentiment was shared by many in attendance who frequently used the word “family” to describe their relationship with Dr. Hawley and others in the residency program at the U.

Embraces were shared by many and tears were shed, but laughter was also prevalent as those close to her told of happy memories that they had shared with Dr. Hawley. More than one of her friends pointed out that “she was a better person than any of us.” They also remarked that she tried to have a life outside of the hospital by going out with friends and sending texts of encouragement to those she was close with.

Brian Vukelic, MD, who was Dr. Hawley’s residency advisor, shared memories of when he received a packet of information that she filled out for orientation. When asked what 10 personal and professional qualities she valued most, Dr. Hawley’s “list was far different than any list I’d seen before … the first thing on top of her list was being a woman, being a sister, being a daughter, being a friend. Also, things like being a listener and an adventurer … everything on that list made her amazing … She had a good sense of what was important in life.”

In the conclusion of the gathering, Reverend Roberts said a prayer in memory of Dr. Hawley and invited those in attendance to link arms and form a circle. The reverence that prevailed in the room was to honor the daughter, sister, colleague and friend who will never be forgotten.

If you would like to help:

The U has established a fund in Dr. Sarah Hawley’s name to honor her memory and support an annual lectureship focusing on her interest in women’s health, pediatric care and wilderness medicine.

Donations can also be made in her name to Planned Parenthood and Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

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