News and Tribune

March 7, 2014

Memorial to celebrate life of murdered Clarksville teen

Tara Willenborg to be honored with ceremony, memorial garden


JEFFERSONVILLE — Tara Rose Willenborg loved to bake.

She aspired to one day open a cupcake bakery, but she didn’t have the chance to realize her dream before she was sexually assaulted and murdered in her Clarksville apartment at age 17.

While Willenborg is gone, her memory is very much alive, and her life will be celebrated from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 8, during a memorial at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville, which is also the Willenborg family’s church. The memorial will take place on what would have been Willenborg’s 19th birthday, one year and several days after she was killed.

“The family wants to remember not how Tara died, but how she lived,” St. Luke’s Pastor Jennifer Mills-Knutsen said. “They want to remember all 17 years of her life and not just one night of it.”

During the ceremony, a memorial garden at St. Luke’s church will be dedicated in Willenborg’s name. The garden will include roses — flowers that have been specially chosen to reflect Willenborg’s middle name.

“Very soon after Tara died, the idea came up of creating a memorial garden to honor her,” Mills-Knutsen said. “And, the family lives right across the street, so it is something that will be close to them, but also close to their church home.”

Willenborg became a vegetarian at a young age because of her love for animals, and contributions received during the ceremony will go toward Southern Indiana Animal Rescue.

Organizers are asking for a $3 minimum donation from those who attend. The donations will also go toward St. Luke’s care of the garden and Sudbury School of Kentuckiana.

“She was a very generous person and wanted to do good in this world, so hosting a charity event in her memory is very appropriate,” Mills-Knutsen said.

The memorial garden has already been adorned with a plaque of Willenborg’s name, a long-stem rose and the dates of her birth and death.

Those who attend the memorial will share stories and memories of Willenborg’s life. Cupcakes will be served.