Sunday, September 25, 2005
News about 17-year-old Adele Dombrowski's death spread across Steamboat Springs in a series of cell phone rings. By evening, more than 50 teenagers had gathered at the home of Kris and Jim Stouffer, Adele's mother and stepfather, to talk about the life of the girl everyone wanted to be.
The popular Steamboat Springs High School senior passed away in her bed during the night Friday. Rebecca Timmerman found her body at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, when she came to pick up Adele for tennis practice.
Services for Adele Dombrowski will be held at 2 p.m Friday in the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel. Public viewing is from noon to 2 p.m. Donations can be made to the Adele Dombrowski Memorial Fund at Alpine Bank.
"Rebecca said she was having a hard time waking Adele up," said Adele's mom, Kris Stouffer. "When I walked into her room, I knew she had been gone for some time."
Stouffer tried to give her daughter CPR until police arrived.
Adele's father and brother were in Denver for a hockey game when they heard the news.
On Friday night, Adele was in Craig celebrating the Steamboat football team's close victory against Moffat County. What happened during the night is unclear. An autopsy of her body will be complete today, and until then, the cause of death is unknown.
On Sunday, Adele's room sat empty. The bed where she died was made. Photos and newspaper clippings of three years of tennis, six years of hockey and five years of volleyball covered one wall.
Upstairs, teenagers, family members and family friends filled the house as they shared their memories. There wasn't a dry eye in the room.
"(Adele) loved everybody," Kris Stouffer said. "Parents would always comment to me that they came to the school and Adele was the only one who said hi to them.
"Gracious is the word a lot of people used, even as far back as her first-grade teacher."
The Adele people remembered would never gossip behind anyone's back. Instead, she stood up for the underdog. "She always saw the good in people," Kris Stouffer said.
Adele was the one on the hockey team who looked out for the younger players.
Jake Dombrowski, Adele's 16-year-old brother, watched as his older sister befriended the entire school.
"She didn't have one best friend," he said. "Everyone knew her. No one talked bad about her."
Even animals were drawn to her, said her dad, Daryl Dombrowski. "She had a deep kindness in her heart, and they sensed that."
Adele was an athlete, but she was also an artist. She sang as an alto in the choir. She played the flute. She danced and choreographed for three years in the Steamboat Dance Showcase.
When she wasn't at school or competing in sports, she was a member of Young Life.
"She loved the Lord," her mom said. "She was a pretty cool kid."
Adele had planned to major in Spanish in college. She was enrolled in Spanish V at school. As the reality of her death began to sink in for those at her house on Sunday, the thing they all marveled at was the lost potential.
"What we lost was somebody who knew how to love people," her mom said. "These kids can be so mean to each other. I tell them to be sweet to each other. Be like Adele.
"Adele spoke this deep truth about life and love. I would just look at her, amazed. She had a wisdom, and I think that's why people gathered around her."
-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org