MSU mourns the loss of two students

Trevor Ball, 19, accidentally drowned in Ennis Lake on Labor Day, Sept. 1 while swimming with friends.

The freshman, who was a member of the Honors College, planned to major in biological and chemical engineering. He was a “great, great student,” according to dean of the Honors College, Dr. Ilse-Mari Lee.

Ball was one of ten valedictorians who graduated from Helena Capital High School in June and was awarded a Governor’s Best and Brightest Scholarship to attend MSU. “He was so excited to be here,” recalled Lee.

Although Ball was only at MSU for just under two weeks, “I’ve learned through his friends that he was such a beloved person,” Lee said, adding that many students attended his memorial service in Helena on Saturday, Sept. 6.

Ball was captain of his high school wrestling team and a varsity football player, although according to his obituary, “Rugby was his greatest passion.” He played on the Helena Hooligans under 19 rugby club during high school, being chosen twice for the Montana Youth Rugby Association’s Select Side.

“[Freshman] orientations — they’re big, but I remember my interaction with Trevor because he was so proud of the South African [rugby] shirt he had on, and of course I immediately saw that and I was so excited about that,” Lee, a South African native, recalled.

Ball had also been a People-to-People Ambassador to Italy and Greece and a member of the Montana Conservation Corps.

Lee described his death as “very tragic … All of us who were touched by him felt privileged to know him.”

For those wishing to honor Ball, donations can be made to the Search and Rescue Teams of the Gallatin and Madison county’s or to an organization or charity of the donor’s choice.



Joseph Morelli, 20, was killed in a single-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 287 near Hebgen Lake in the early hours of Saturday morning, Sept. 6.

Morelli was a junior in mechanical engineering at MSU, and his friend of three years, Katie Holleron, described him as “the happiest person I ever knew in my entire life.”

“He had this smile that would turn everybody’s day around,” Holleron recalled, saying that Morelli told her that “all you need to keep you warm is your smile.”

Morelli had a passion for travel and adventure, spending last semester abroad in New Zealand and visiting places like Thailand and Fiji. He also loved to be outside, camping or skiing nearly every weekend. “He was only here unfortunately for 20 years, but in that 20 years he did more than any 50-year-old man,” Holleron said.

A talented and entirely self-taught guitarist, Morelli loved music. Holleron first met Morelli at summer orientation where both were wearing Grateful Dead shirts. “He was a total deadhead, even though deadheads are only a thing from the 60s and 70s,” Holleron recalled with a laugh.

During both semesters of his freshman year, Morelli made the Dean’s Honor Roll. “He loved school … I’ve never seen someone walk out of the library with a smile after sitting there for ten hours studying, but Joe did,” Holleron said, adding that “the only thing that got him down was when he didn’t do well on a calculus test.”

The Park City, Utah native also loved to spend time with both friends and family. “Everytime he went out he would meet ten new friends,” Holleron said, “No matter what he made his friends a priority.”

“They say that a candle that burns twice as bright only lasts half as long,” Holleron said, “Joe was the brightest light I have ever seen in my entire life.”

“Everyone who didn’t get to meet him should be dissapointed because the love and life that you feel when you meet Joe Morelli is beyond beautiful … There’s no words when you meet him, and there’s no words when you lose him.”

In memory of Morelli, donations can be made to the Joseph James Morelli Scholarship Fund, which is for students with learning disabilities graduating from Park City High School who have a chosen a career in engineering. Checks should be made to Park City Community Foundation with Joseph James Morelli Scholarship Fund on the memo line and then mailed to PCCSF, P.O. Box 681499, Park City, Utah 84068. Donations can also be made online at