Anna Orthwein, who friends described as beautiful and intensely outgoing, died June 4 at Shady Grove Hospital due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was 19 years old.
A native of Gaithersburg, Md., she transferred to GW from the University of San Francisco at the end of her freshman year. Her parents said she truly loved where she was at this point in her life.
“This was probably one of Anna’s best and happiest years,” her mother, Jayne, said. “She was so very happy about where her life was going and what she had accomplished.”
A biology major with a pre-med focus, Orthwein wanted to go into dentistry. At GW she was on the Dean’s List, and a member of an honors sorority. During the school year she interned at the National Institutes of Health, where she worked with doctors to research a drug to treat hair cell leukemia. She was set to work at the NIH this summer.
“She was full of life – genuine, very poised, and very graceful,” said Michelle Caputy, a senior and friend of Orthwein’s. “She was gorgeous.”
Friends remembered her extroverted personality and the way people would gravitate toward her. Senior Molly Moss said she was floored by Orthwein’s generosity when she once offered to drive Moss to Virginia to visit Moss’ grandmother who lived in an assisted living home.
Moss said, “She was beautiful. She always looked really cute . She was so nice to everybody she met and everybody she met just loved her. She was beautiful inside as well. She was an amazing person.”
Friends said Orthwein rode and showed horses for a decade when she was younger, and in college went to horse races in the area. She liked working out, and would get up early on Saturday mornings to exercise after spending a night out. She also enjoyed getting dressed up and going out to dinner at steak houses.
“I just always remember her being ready to do something, ready for fun,” senior Claire Twomey said. “She was a great girl and too young to die.”
Junior Lauren Schwartz said it seemed unjust that someone who had so much and enjoyed being young had to die so early.
“She was bright and cheery and colorful,” Schwartz said. “She had really big goals.”
She added, “It’s kind of unfair. I was just like why did she have to die so young? It’s frustrating.”
Orthwein was close to her friends at school, especially her roommates, but she also had a strong relationship with her family. She shared photos of her friends with her mother when she came home on some weekends, and planned nights out and vacations for her family.
“She was very content and satisfied with her friends and her life,” her mother said. “As a mother, I’ve lost my daughter and I’ve lost my very best friend.”
Orthwein is survived by her parents and her brother, Johnathan. Memorial contributions may be made to the Aneurysm and AVM Foundation, or the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.