LaTonya Farmer was an outgoing person who enjoyed singing and usually had a smile on her face, according to people who knew the 17-year-old Lawrence girl who died in a fire Sunday.
"She was a delightful person," said Debra Green, Lawrence High School math teacher. "She liked to sing. She had a beautiful soprano voice, and she basically always seemed happy."
Green said Farmer started at LHS this year. Green said she got to know Farmer even though she didn't have her in class.
"I met her in the hallway because she was just a delightful person. She spoke to everybody," Green said. "This is quite a shock because I had taken this young lady to choir rehearsal on Saturday. This was the first time that I really felt like she felt like we were really good friends and that she could always come to me."
JEFF ANDERSON, LHS choral director, said Farmer was involved in the sophomore girls choir and participated in the LHS Gospel Choir as an extracurricular activity. She also was singing with the Ecumenical Youth Choir, which performed at a gospal music festival Sunday night as part of the Martin Luther King Day celebration. Farmer would have had a solo part in Sunday's performance.
"She was a person who enjoyed being in the class, enjoyed the choir," Anderson said.
He said Farmer had transferred to Lawrence from Schlagel High School in Kansas City, Kan., where he used to teach. Anderson said Farmer also hit it off with his wife, Rogene, who works as administrative assistant-accompanist in the choral department.
"She stopped in to see me every day," said Rogene Anderson. "She'd stop by my office on her way to class. It was basically, `Hi. How are you today?' If I happened to be gone that day, she'd want to know the next day where I'd been that day."
LHS Assistant Principal Ted Juneau said that as outgoing as LaTonya was, it's not too surprising that he came to know her too.
"SHE ALWAYS came by the office, and she sold me some fruit as part of a fund-raiser for the music department," Juneau said. "She was just a real outgoing, personable person. She always had a smile on her face.
"It really is tragic."
Isaac Edwards, a security officer and sponsor of the Black Student Union at LHS, said Farmer was an active member of the BSU.
"She was a feisty individual. She was the type that made things happen," Edwards said. "If there were things that needed to be done, she would do them. She wouldn't short-change her fellow members. She'd want to get the job done."