Friends remember Cal Poly student as loving, generous and talented

Kennedy Love, 22, who was killed in a hit-and-run on Tuesday night, smiles during a visit to see the superbloom on the Carrizo Plain this past spring.
Kennedy Love, 22, who was killed in a hit-and-run on Tuesday night, smiles during a visit to see the superbloom on the Carrizo Plain this past spring.

Kennedy Love never met a stranger.

The 22-year-old third-year landscape architecture student couldn’t go anywhere without running into someone he knew, friends said. And he truly cared about everyone he met.

“He knew everybody on a first-name basis,” said Tori Fields, a fourth-year landscape architecture student who was close with Love. “He was so involved on a social aspect. He was caring and knew everyone’s background.”

Love, who was killed late Tuesday night in a hit-and-run, was a forward-thinking, dedicated student and friend — described by friends that knew him as a kind, generous, humble man who worked hard in school, loved his family, loved adventure and enjoyed playing the guitar, piano and singing.

He died when he was hit by a suspected underage drunken driver while riding his bike on Foothill Boulevard near Ferrini Road in San Luis Obispo. The driver, a 17-year-old girl from Los Osos, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony DUI and felony hit-and-run after police found the abandoned car and traced it to the residence.

Police said the girl admitted she was the driver and had been drinking.

In a letter to the Cal Poly community Wednesday, President Jeff Armstrong said the university was “deeply saddened” by Love’s death and is planning a memorial service for shortly after the start of the fall quarter next month.

“Our thoughts are with Kennedy’s family and friends during this difficult time of loss,” Armstrong wrote.

Fields said Love enjoyed listening to classic rock and would often sing “Layla” by Eric Clapton.

“He sang like a f—ing angel,” Fields said. “He had the most beautiful voice.” She said they would listen to Fleetwood Mac together, which was another band he loved. Love also spent a lot of his time volunteering at Front Porch, a Christian-based coffee shop on Foothill Boulevard.

“I think he was there making coffee and cleaning every single day,” Fields said.

Fields went on a road trip to Yosemite with Love last spring.

“He was so adventurous, climbing every boulder he saw, going swimming in freezing-cold lakes,” she said. “He was always laughing.”

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Kennedy Love hugs his friend Tori Fields on top of a car in Carrizo Plain during the superbloom this past spring. Courtesy of Tori Fields

Fields remembered that they met in a studio class at Cal Poly about three years ago.

“I was wearing this shirt that said ‘Enjoy Georgia Peaches’ or something silly like that, so he kept being like, ‘Hey, Georgia!’” Fields said. “Then we found out we were both from San Diego and became friends after that.”

Friend and fellow landscape architecture student Sasha Shebalin said in an email that Love was one of the most amazing people she’s ever met. “I’m not over-exaggerating,” she said.

“If you were to walk around campus with him, you would be stopping every three steps as he ran into yet another friend of his.”

He was so adventurous, climbing every boulder he saw, going swimming in freezing-cold lakes. He was always laughing.

Tori Fields, friend of Kennedy Love

She said that Love, who took a break from school to travel around Europe before coming back to study landscape architecture, had a unique perspective on life.

Every professor and student in the department could see Love’s talent, Shebalin said. When he presented projects, he captured everyone’s attention and had “a great way with words.”

“Not only was he gifted in landscape, but he was an awesome rock climber and surfer,” Shebalin wrote, saying it was impressive to watch Love fly up the rock-climbing wall with no struggle.

Kennedy and Sasha
Kennedy Love smiles with his friend Sasha Shebalin amid the wildflowers of the Carrizo Plain superbloom. Courtesy of Sasha Shebalin

“Even with being so talented, he was still humble and kind to every person he met and was always there to help you with any problem you had and could make you laugh,” Shebalin wrote. “I still can’t believe he’s gone.”

Kylie Durekas, another close friend and classmate, described him as “a loving, kind, and amazing person. He was so giving and had so much love in his heart.”

Durekas added that anywhere she and Love went together, even if it was just to random towns outside of Yosemite, he ran into someone he knew.

“He touched so many people,” she wrote in an email.

Love put a lot of pressure on himself to be the best he could be, Durekas said, and “Kennedy Love is literally the best at anything he sets his mind to.”

“They say legends never die, and I’m going to remind myself of that throughout this entire grieving process,” Durekas wrote. “Another angel has been lifted to the heavens.”

Another one of Love’s friends, Sophia Rumpf, simply wrote, “He was loved.”

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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