'Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate their lives': Judson University bids farewell to seniors killed in crash

Judson University seniors Dallas Colburn and Nathanael Madison were remembered as beloved sons, pillars of faith and sources of strength and stability to their friends and community during a celebration of life held Monday on the Elgin campus.

The celebration - which took place days before the 22-year-old architecture and design majors were to graduate - occurred nearly two weeks after the young men were killed in a multivehicle accident on Route 31. Two fellow senior architecture students were injured in the crash. Both have been released from the hospital.


Drawing parallels between Colburn and Madison and the profession to which they aspired, the Rev. Dr. Darryl T. Jenkins of the university's board of trustees eulogized them as pillars of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness and faithfulness.

Like every good builder, the aspiring architects knew "the importance of building on a good foundation," he said, referring to the foundation established by Jesus Christ.


Adding levity to the service, architecture professor Alan Frost compared the dog-loving Colburn, of Plano, to a puppy, describing him as eager and passionate.

A "man of example" with an endearing lopsided grin, "Dallas made everyone better by standing by our side," Frost said.

"If Dallas was a puppy, Nate was a cat," said Frost, who affectionately likened the Wernersville, Pennsylvania, native to a feline.

A man of integrity, Madison asked difficult questions and demanded thoughtful answers, Frost said. He recalled suggesting to Madison that he simplify one of his curvilinear building designs to eliminate structural challenges the design posed. That was on a Friday, Frost said. By Monday, Madison had resolved the issues.

  Students and other mourners pray as Judson University holds a public memorial for Dallas Colburn and Nathanael Madison, senior architecture students killed in last week's four-vehicle crash on Route 31. Rick West/

"He would not take the easy way out," Frost said.

The memorial service was streamed live and is available on the university's Facebook page.

Colburn and Madison were killed April 20 when the car they were riding in was involved in a crash about 9:15 p.m. near a campus entrance at Judson Drive and Route 31, authorities said. The crash remains under investigation, according to a university spokeswoman.

  A member of the Judson University choir sings during a celebration of life for Nathanael Madison, pictured left, and Dallas Colburn, senior architecture students killed in a four-vehicle crash on Route 31. Rick West/

The oldest of nine siblings, Madison, who was to be married next month, was like a brother to Peter Saad, a native of Egypt who came to Elgin three years ago to attend Judson.

"I was to be the piano man at his wedding in a month and 10 days, instead I was his pallbearer," said an emotional Saad.

"We believe death is powerless," he said, adding when believers die, "we simply change the playground."

Gregory Boyce, Colburn's friend since freshman year, described the animal-lover as patient, kind and always willing to help out a friend. His goal was to meet every person on campus and find something they could converse about, Boyce said.

  Following Monday's tearful yet joyous memorial service for Judson University seniors Dallas Colburn and Nathanael Madison, Dallas' mother Tammy Colburn gets a hug from her son's friend Gregory Boyce. Her husband Dallas is pictured at right. Rick West/

"Live like Dallas did," he said. "Take advantage of the time you have to leave an impact on your community."

Jenkins echoed that thought.

"Thank God for the life, legacy and love of Dallas and Nate," Jenkins said as the celebration concluded with him exhorting family members, friends, Judson students and faculty to rise and applaud the young men.

"Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate their lives," he said.

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