Angel Wilson loved One Direction. Her friends remembered how she would frequently sing songs by the popular boyband, and how they believed it encapsulated her fun-loving, joyous nature.
"I’ll miss jamming in her car to Ed Sheeran or One Direction or Harry Styles, getting ready together for a night out — I always borrowed her clothes — and complaining to her about my life struggles. She always listened with no judgment,” said Stephanie Bernstein (Medill '18), one of Angel's friends since freshman year.
Weinberg senior Angel Wilson died on June 22, according to an email from Dean of Students Todd Adams. Her cause of death has not yet been released, but several weeks later, her friends remember Wilson for her caring personality, among other attributes. Wilson was a biology major, member of Pi Beta Phi, active in the Refresh Dance Crew, the Northwestern Community Development Corps, and the UNITY Charity Fashion Show, the email said.
Pi Beta Phi's unofficial symbol is an angel, which their website says "members have lovingly nicknamed Angelica."
Abbey Schmitt (McCormick '18), one of Wilson's friends, made a video with one-second clips throughout 2018, which often features Angel dancing, singing and laughing along with her friends. She captioned it, "Thank you for so many seconds, Angel."
“I think it really says something that out of all the moments of my day, she was in so many of the ones worth remembering,” Schmitt said. "She was exceptional and I hope you capture how much we love her."
In an Instagram post, Northwestern’s chapter of Pi Beta Phi described Wilson as, “the most loving, caring, joyful friend” whose “shenanigans were the highlight of any Monday catch-up,” “a 5-star support system, a constant source of laughs” and a “literal embodiment of an angel on earth.”
In her last Instagram post, Angel stands in the center of a group photo with her best friends; they stand so close together that everyone embraces, and Angel is being hugged by at least two friends and holding hands.
She captioned it, “Find some friends who make you feel THIS LOVED.”
Matt Hacker Teper (WCAS '17) served as Angel’s peer advisor, said Angel had an unending ability to make everyone feel cared for.
“She was the rare kind of person who could light up a room just by walking in,” Hacker Teper said. “She was kind and smart and interesting and fiercely loyal. Angel was the kind of girl who didn't take herself too seriously, and who was ALWAYS there for her friends. She was an absolute joy to be with, and she made everyone around her, myself included, a better person."
Even from her first week at Northwestern, during Wildcat Welcome, Hacker Teper said Angel stood out.
“She really believed in the power of community and worked really hard to make our group safe and inclusive. She was the first to jump in on proposed group activities, but she was also the first to show vulnerability in front of others," he said.
Ever the fashionista and friend, Hacker Teper remembers running into Angel at Tech fondly. It would become his favorite memory of Angel.
“She ran up to me in the middle of tech to give me a big hug, ask how I was doing, then immediately give me feedback on my outfit that, according to her, was ‘Fine but could be so much better.’ That, to me, is Angel in a nutshell. She was kind and goofy and fabulous, and I am so heartbroken that she's gone,” Hacker Teper said.
Meghan Fox (WCAS '18), became friends with Angel this year and “clicked immediately” with her.
"Angel was the kind of friend who was there for everyone all the time," Fox said. "I don't think she was capable of being selfish."
Though Fox said that she will miss everything about Angel, it is the laughter and fun that she shared with Wilson that she will miss the most. Fittingly, Fox shared that one of her favorite memories of Angel that made them “laugh so hard” happened after Wilson unlocked Fox’s phone with her own thumb-print.
“We both started freaking out, because we were convinced that this was confirmation that we were in fact the same person. She did it a second time, so that we knew we weren’t imagining things. We were so excited. We eventually looked in settings and found that there was in fact a thumb print with 'ANGEL' next to it,” Fox said. “She had put it in at some point and just forgotten.”
Katherine Pastewka (WCAS '18), who met Wilson freshman year, described her as “truly the best friend” with a “heart of gold.”
“Whenever anyone needed anything she would be there no matter the cost. When I got surgery, she was there to take me to appointments and walk my dog. It came so naturally to her to go above and beyond. I don’t think she even understood how special she was in that regard,” Pastewka said.
Pastewka also described her as “the most easy-going person."
“She never got mad at anyone, and never sweat the little things,” Pastewka said. “She was so beautiful inside and out. She also had this elegant confidence to her I truly admired. Even when we first met freshman year, she was willing to show me videos of her dancing alone in the studio. She was just so comfortable with herself that she was willing to share it with other people."
Schmitt remembers Angel as someone who “really liked taking care of people” and “generous and happy to share,” even willing to lend dresses from her own closet.
“Sophomore year when we lived in Pi Phi, there was one formal where I think eight people were wearing dresses from her closet,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt also remembered how she and Wilson "no sweets February." Even though Angel “definitely knew” Schmitt had indulged in some sweets, Schmitt said Wilson never called her out on it.
“She was the type of friend that would always come to you. This year sharing a house, she would always walk into my room whenever she saw the door was cracked and just ask how I was doing and tell me about random shenanigans,” Schmitt said.
Whether it was getting brunch at Pi Phi on Saturdays and Sundays during senior year or travelling all of the way to Iowa to see an away basketball game with her friends, Schmitt said Wilson’s pull was undeniable.
“She was just a magnet. Everyone loved talking to her,” Schmitt said.
While many knew Angel from her biology class, her ability to “set fashion trends,” her dance performances and her love for belting out One Direction lyrics at parties, Schmitt got to come back to their shared room in Pi Phi to “see her doing puzzles on her iPad in bed,” crochet (which Angel “was amazing at”, according to Schmitt) and paint canvases so “super meticulously” that Schmitt noted that Wilson was “a true scientist about it.”
“It’s so hard to explain all these moments that meant so much,” Schmitt said.
Whenever Louise Houghton (WCAS '18) speaks with people about Wilson, mentions of how generous she was, “in mind, heart and spirit,” are inescapable.
“If you needed someone to talk to, she'd be there to listen. If you needed a buddy to see a show, go out, or just go to the grocery store, she'd go there with you,” Houghton said.
“Never judgemental," Angel “saw everyone for the best they could be, and was always gracious and forgiving of others when they were their worst,” Houghton said. It was Wilson's supportive nature that helped Houghton during winter quarter as she did student teaching, what she described as her “toughest quarter at school.”
“I was up to my eyeballs in work and it placed a lot of emotional strain on me. Without fail, she'd always invite me out to whatever she was doing and ask me if I was free, even though I turned her down 98 percent of the time,” Houghton said. “I probably told her the most about my students, just because she always wanted to hear about them. She cared because I cared, and if that's not empathy I don't know what is.”
After Houghton told Angel about one of her students, Danny, who “was always really sweet and kind” and “having a tough time in class,” Wilson would always check in and ask, “How’s Danny?” after Houghton came back from teaching.
“I'd always jokingly thought to myself that it would be funny to later tell him he'd had a guardian Angel looking out for him, but now that's too close to the truth,” Houghton said.
In addition to Angel's generous nature, Houghton said she can’t forget Wilson’s laugh, which always made her feel like she was “truly funny.”
“She had this natural sense of fun and always knew how to have a good time, and her laugh was infectious,” Houghton said. “I could talk a lot about her laugh. It was like a giggle, but not trivial at all - it was a true outpouring of mirth, warm yet lighthearted.”
Houghton said Angel served as a role model to many in the Northwestern community.
“I know a lot of younger women in Pi Phi really admired and looked up to her. She really could have pulled off the too-cool-California-girl thing, but she didn't at all. She made me feel so special, and she did that for everyone she knew,” Houghton said.
For Katelyn Noronha (WCAS '18), who met Angel freshman year, it is Angel’s smile that she cannot forget.
"Angel was full of light. Anytime I think of her, all I can picture is her vibrant smile,” Noronha said. “She made everyone feel appreciated and worthy of attention and love. She was one of those people who was truly beautiful inside and out.”
One of Noronha’s favorite memories with Angel happened when she went apple picking with Meghan, Louise, Angel, Abbey and Stephanie. It was not the apple picking that made the trip so memorable; it was the ride to the orchard with Angel.
“The best part, however, was the ride up to the orchard. I was riding in the backseat of Angel's car and we sang to One Direction on the top of our lungs the whole way there. Thanks to her, now I know all the words to One Direction's top hits,” Noronha said. “I was lucky to have shared so many moments with her in the past four years and I will miss her so much."
Bernstein, who has been friends with Angel since freshman year, remembers her as “kind, patient, understanding and encouraging,” though Wilson had “hundreds of incredible qualities.”
“Angel was truly my angel. She was there for me when nobody else was and watched over me through my toughest times at Northwestern,” Bernstein said. “She had this radiant energy that lit up any room she walked into, not to mention she was beautiful and always the best dressed."
For Bernstein, it’s the little moments that she will miss.
The only thing I didn’t like about our friendship was that I couldn’t spend every second with her," Bernstein said. "I missed her the moment she walked out of the room, and there are no words to describe how much I miss her now.”
In spite of the sadness that Bernstein feels for the loss of Wilson, she hopes that “everyone has a friend like Angel at some point in their lives” and thinks that the world could learn many lessons from her.
“There will be a piece of my heart missing forever,” Bernstein said. The world needs to be more like her: never angry, only accepting. Change will come because the world has lost an incredible human.”