As Villanova University student Matthew Ainsworth’s family prepares to bury him Friday, six days after the 21-year-old’s unexpected death, his friends at Villanova continue to mourn, among them his fraternity and a professor who dined with Ainsworth the night before his death.
Jan Rigaud, Ainsworth’s French professor and adviser for the French club at Villanova, said Ainsworth had been on track to graduate with a dual major in chemical engineering and French—the first such student Rigaud had seen pass through the school. Ainsworth also studied engineering for a semester in France, he added.
“It’s very, very tough for me,” Rigaud said. “I was Matt’s professor, but also I was Matt’s friend. For me, it is devastating. It truly is.”
Rigaud said he, a guest speaker and Ainsworth, who was the president of the French club at Villanova, went to dinner last Friday at The Restaurant School in Philadelphia.
“We took him back to his apartment at 10 on Friday night,” Rigaud said. “On Saturday, he was supposed to see me because he had a test with me on Monday, and I never heard from him.”
Ainsworth was found dead at about 11 a.m. Saturday by his roommate in their 801 Montgomery Ave. apartment. Ainsworth’s roommate had not stayed in the apartment that night and found Ainsworth fully clothed on his bed upon his return to the room, Lower Merion Police Capt. Bill Boegly said Monday.
Montgomery County Coroner Walter Hofman said an autopsy report would take four to six weeks and added there was no evidence of injury to the body. Hofman said a death certificate was issued pending tests to determine the cause of death.
On Tuesday, a post to Villanova’s Zeta Epsilon Chapter of Beta Theta Pi’s Web site prefaced the news of Ainsworth’s death with the Beta Theta Pi’s Service for the Dead: “They rest, they sleep the dreamless sleep. While cycles move, But in our hearts eternally we keep Their faith and love.”
Rigaud said he is leaving Thursday morning to attend Ainsworth’s wake and funeral in Ohio. He added he’s written a speech he will give at a memorial service for Ainsworth at 2:30 p.m. next Monday at Villanova.
“Matt was an outstanding human being in many ways,” Rigaud said. “And this is someone who loved life and lived it fully.”
In addition to being the president of the French club at Villanova, Ainsworth was also a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, engineering PEERS, club sailing, ambassadors, and the honor society for chemical engineering, according to an obituary published in the Toledo Blade.
Boegly said Ainsworth's mother lives in Philadelphia and his father lives in Texas.
John Ehrman, a neighbor of Ainsworth in Texas, shared his family’s thoughts.
"We are his next door neighbors in Texas and our heart goes out to his family," Ehrman wrote on Monday. "He was a fine young man. My daughter and he were friends. He will be missed and our prayers go out to the family."
Villanova University also issued a statement.
"Our heart goes out to the family and friends of Matt,” Villanova University director of media relations Jonathan Gust wrote on Monday afternoon. “We ask you to keep them and this young man in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
The Toledo Blade obituary included details of services for Ainsworth: “The viewing will take place at Walker Funeral Home at 5155 W. Sylvania Avenue (west of Corey Rd.) in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday, March 31, from 4 to 9 p.m. The Rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. The funeral will be held on Friday, April 1, at 12 noon at Christ the King Church in Toledo, Ohio, followed by his burial at Toledo Memorial in Sylvania, Ohio. A memorial service for Matthew was held at St. Thomas Church at Villanova University on Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. There will also be a memorial service at Strake Jesuit in Houston on Saturday, April 9. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Matthew's memory to Villanova University.”