Editor’s Note: The images featured within this article were given to The Bloc by Lowell Ensel’s various close friends and family.
Molly Podlesny met Lowell Ensel in an honors seminar. They quickly bonded over their love for Johnny Cash.
Both Podlesny, a sophomore journalism major, and Ensel were double majors, their shared major being government and politics. They took classes together and Podlesny helped Ensel with his movie, “In The Midterm.”
Podlesny described Ensel as a light.
“His nickname was Mr. Sunshine and that’s the best way to put it,” Podlesny said. “He was so good-natured.
“He was just so considerate and went out of his way to help others […] or just try to make everyone’s day a little better,” Podlesny said.
Going forward, Podlesny said she wants to incorporate Ensel’s kind-hearted and helpful nature into her own life.
“I never go out of my way,” Podlesny said. “I’ve walked past someone before who’s dropped something and not offered to help.”
“Sometimes I can be really lost in my own world, but Lowell always went out of his way to help people, even if he didn’t know them,” she said. “That light that he gave to other people, I don’t want that to go away. I want to be more like him and be able to do that for people.”
For their whole lives, Trevor Gibson and Ensel were never more than five minutes apart, Gibson said.
The two met in preschool when they were three years old, and their college dorm rooms were right next to each other – Ensel in Anne Arundel, Gibson in Dorchester.
“He was my best friend,” Gibson said.
They grew up playing tee ball together, and later played on the same baseball team. They joined the same fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and Gibson acted in Ensel’s movie.
“I would describe Lowell as the most kind-hearted person I’ve ever met,” Gibson said.
Earlier this year, Gibson received a scholarship and told Ensel the good news when they met up for dinner. Ensel picked Gibson up and swung him around for 10 seconds, squeezing him so hard.
“It was the best feeling ever,” Gibson said. “He wrote a Facebook status about it, which meant so much to me. He’s so genuine.”
Gibson described Ensel as passionate, fearless, outgoing and enthusiastic about life.
“He was never lazy about the things that he did,” Gibson said. “He was just a really kind person who wanted to get to know new people.”
George Staley, director of the Honors Humanities program remembers how Lowell would stop by his office to pick up pieces of candy from his office before heading to class.
Staley described Lowell’s intense, vibrant energy and constant involvement. He was pleased to see at the memorial service “how much the students in Honors Humanities truly are humanitarians” Lowell exemplified those traits, Staley explained, and he was a catalyst for them in those around him.
“What struck me after I heard about his death was the conversation we had sometime I think this spring, about his final focus about the project.” Staley said in reference to Lowell’s movie “In The Midterm.”
Ensel was considering creating a “film about three stages in human life, and he was inspired by that idea through an event he had attended with his parents, […] in the end he did just the first stage that he had in mind,” Staley said.
“That is the stage of being a college student […] and the sad thing is now he will never know those [other] stages. But through his work on that first stage, on what it’s like to be a college student, is such a powerful image of the person that he is and could have been.”
One of the moments Staley said he remembers most from knowing Lowell was at a screening of Lowell’s film.
“When at our symposium this year, we screened his full film. There were lots of people. At the end, the lights came back on and everyone cheered and he was in tears,” Staley said.
He says he will always remember the look on Lowell’s face, representative of the hard work he had poured into his film, as he did with everything else. Students loved Lowell’s work.
“The room was packed,” Staley said.
“There were 90 or 100 people there, and they were all cheering for him.”
Staley said Lowell is not gone, and he will linger in memory and in spirit. Lowell won the Honors Humanities Keystone Prize and it will now be named after him.
“There will be a plaque in the hall that lists the winners each year and next to them there will be a picture of him from when he won it. Visibly, he will always be a part of the community,” Staley said.
He also said he hopes to show the film to future generations of students to inspire the same kind of creativity and passion he put into his work.
“He had the ability to relate to anybody,” Staley said. “He didn’t try to change to fit their community, Lowell was Lowell.”
Emily Schaefer was friends with Lowell and said she and Lowell clicked upon first meeting.
“I remember the first time I met Lowell–it was at freshman orientation, and we had a mutual friend through my roommate, which was the conversation starter that got us talking in the first place, Schaefer said. “We quickly started discussing music, books, and TV shows.”
Schaefer and Lowell connected over a love of baseball as well.
“He also liked to show me highlights from Yankees games, and one of the last things he did with me was teach me the pitching stance, because he was talking about it for a speech for his communication class.”
“I just remember the beginning of freshman year very vividly, since there was more free time that we could spend together, and that really set a base for our friendship.”
Schaefer also discussed everyday things she remembered about Lowell.
“I remember sitting in his room and doing homework together while he played rap and hip-hop. I remember how he would pause before a lyric he particularly liked to let us know he did, and then sing along to it louder and burst out laughing afterwards,” Schaefer said.
“He laughed all the time and had a very distinct laugh. He did this little dance with his arms that we always try to emulate but can never get quite right.”
She remembers his quirks. She said he often quoted the show Archer, greeting everyone with a hug and a wave even if it was just a quick hello, and he would always call his friends instead of just texting them to see if they wanted to get dinner or go to the library to do homework.
“Lowell was someone who would always be there for you,” Schaefer said.
“He had the ability to attract people, and if I hadn’t met him I probably wouldn’t have the friends I do,” she said. “He contributed to my college experience so far in a big way, and I’m going to miss him very much from here on out” said Schaefer.
When there was a snow day and at two o’clock in the morning, Lowell wanted to go for a “snowventure” with Nazar Bedi, Bedi said.
Bedi said when she asked what a “snowventure” was, he explained it was an “adventure in the snow.”
They paused to take a selfie in the ten degree weather outside of Anne Arundel, then trudged through the snow to memorial chapel, Bedi said. They wanted to walk on the maze outside of the chapel, but it was covered in snow. Bedi suggested they come back another time. “No,” Lowell said. “We will make our own path.”
“It’s nice that we went out at two o’clock in the morning just to do nothing, it’s a real embodiment of who Lowell really was, he was always down to do anything, he always wanted to make sure people were having fun, no one could ever be bored when we were around Lowell.”
“He used to always dance, and listen to the same songs by Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West” said Bedi.
He always used to shout “Koby!” before shooting anything into the trashcan, but would often miss, Bedi said.
We made jokes because everywhere we’d go, he would basically invite everybody in our dorm.
“We would sometimes just get together in his room, everybody in the building pretty much, so noise complaints were just something we were used to, Bedi said.”
“He was always so inclusive of people,” Bedi said.
“He never said no to people, just really wanted to make everyone feel like a family, like they all belong together.”
Lowell was committed to everything he did. Bedi said Lowell loved the Yankees. She said his top three favorite things were music, movies, and baseball.
He had a minute attention to detail, where four hour movie shoots would quickly become twelve hours, Bedi said.
He kept all of the DVDs on the top rack in his dorm room were alphabetically organized, Bedi said.
Bedi said she remembers when One of their friends was pulling them out and looking at them when Lowell said “You’re ruining the order, put them back where they belong!” Lowell’s wall was covered in movie posters, television show posters, sports posters, and everything else.
His favorite movie was Memento, Bedi said. Memento is the next movie on Bedi’s watch list, she said.
Joshua Blockstein has known Lowell since elementary school. He remembers how enthusiastic he was about everything.
“Even from when we were very little […] I remember Lowell being incredibly fun-loving, energetic, and opinionated. We argued about everything, fighting like brothers who were only getting along when they weren’t getting along,” Blockstein said.
He said he doesn’t remember the first time he met Lowell, only that they had been friends since before he can remember, and he had believed they always would be.
They played soccer and baseball together, Blockstein said. They went through the awkward middle school phase together, with long hair, uncombed and uncontrollable.
Even through the awkward middle school phase, Blockstein remembers how Lowell was “unabashedly himself,” and always looking to have a good time.
Blockstein grew to appreciate Lowell’s quirks as they grew to know each other.
“There were so many quirks about Lowell, the way he drummed his fingers, the way he triumphantly tapped his car ceiling whenever he went through a yellow light, the way he loved drinking soy milk even though he wasn’t lactose intolerant,” Blockstein said.
One thing is clear, everything was all or nothing with Lowell, even the little things.
Lowell gave his all every moment of his life.
“There are so many other things that defined him too, like getting way too intense about videogames and pickup sports games […] As we got older and matured together, I came to realize that was just the way Lowell was.”
Raye Weigel is a freshman English and community health double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maya Pottiger is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.