Steamboat says goodbye

Dana Strongin

— She was an outstanding athlete, had a penchant for purses and shoes and loved to play the flute.

She was gracious enough to always make time for friends, and her kindness and energy came bundled with big hugs and a special laugh.

Hundreds of relatives, friends and community members gathered at a memorial service Friday to remember Adele Dombrowski, a 17-year-old Steamboat Springs High School senior who died last weekend.

So many people attended the memorial service that the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel ballroom where the service was held quickly overflowed, and police officers diverted some attendees to the foyer, where they could listen to the service through speakers.

Many of the people in attendance were teenagers and classmates of Dombrowski. Dozens of girls wore purple or pink shirts and ribbons to reflect Dombrowski’s favorite colors.

Two of Dombrowski’s friends shared their thoughts with the crowd.

One thanked Dombrowski for helping her gain the courage to do flips off the diving board.

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” she said.

Dombrowski, the girls said, was the kind of friend you could confide in, and she had a facial expression for every emotion — looks she never was too shy to share.

“No matter what, you will always be in our hearts. We will never forget you. We will love you forever,” the girls said together.

Dombrowski’s mother, Kris Stouffer, said her daughter was a gracious young woman.

“Life is so precious. Be gracious to one another,” Stouffer said.

She read a section of a poem written by her daughter.

“I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final goodbye,” the poem reads.

Dombrowski’s father, Daryl, said his daughter taught him about unconditional love.

He recalled her as a 1-year-old, when she would stroke her father’s face with her little hands, as if to assure him of her love.

“She couldn’t talk to me, but her message was clear,” he said.

During the service, Rob Ryg, a pastor who also is the Routt County coroner, said Dombrowski did not die of alcohol poisoning. Toxicology reports are still pending, he said.

Dombrowski, who spent the night before she died with friends at the Steamboat-Moffat County football game in Craig, is thought to have drank alcohol with friends during the evening.

Alcohol never would have been an issue in Dombrowski’s death if she had not been drinking, Pastor Kevin King said.

“Our teenagers don’t need alcohol in their lives,” King told the crowd at the service.

Ryg said even though Dombro–wski did not die of alcohol poisoning, people still need to be aware that alcohol is a problem.

“We need to get our heads out of the sand. Alcohol and drugs are a big problem in Steamboat Springs, both with adults and with teenagers,” Ryg said.

During the service, Ryg said teens could honor Dombrowski’s life by making a commitment to not drink alcohol or do drugs.

“Say ‘No’ for Adele. Make something good come out of the loss of this special girl,” he said.

Ryg asked if a teenager would stand up and make that commitment.

Within seconds, a group of girls walked, arms linked, to the front of the ballroom. Shortly thereafter, nearly every teenager at the service was crowded at the front of the room.

The teenagers then filed out, many of them crying and leaning on one another’s shoulders.

Most of them grabbed pink balloons and walked together to an open area near the base of Steamboat Ski Area, where they placed stickers on the balloons. The stickers read “SNFA,” for “Say ‘No’ for Adele.”

They then released the balloons into the sky.

During the service, Domb–rowski’s father reminded the crowd to be grateful for the moments they had with his daughter.

“Remember Adele in your prayers. But remember to thank God for your time with her.”

— To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail

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