For those who knew Rachel Pendray, they say heaven has a new angel in tow.
Pendray, a Sam Houston State University sophomore majoring in pre-nursing, was actively involved in cheerleading, intramural flag football, a member of Chi Alpha and a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
Pendray’s cheerleading coach, Jared King, says she was in the middle of her second year of SHSU’s all girl cheer squad.
“She was fun to be around,” said King, Spirit Program Coordinator and coach. “She could always laugh at herself and she always had energy that rubbed off onto other people.”
With memorials flooding her personal Facebook account before it was deleted, many students thanked Pendray for all the wonderful memories, and of course for her beautiful and infectious smile.
“She had this evil smile, that I thought was so funny,” said Sarah Sheffield, Pendray’s best friend. “Then she had this cute smile, which she knew she could get anything with. Her smile was the best thing.”
Knowing each other since elementary school, Pendray and Sheffield became best friends during their freshman year of high school and were inseparable ever since.
“She was always doing funny stuff,” said Sheffield. “She was always calling me and singing to me; even if I didn’t answer she would leave me long voicemails that would make me laugh. She constantly made these funny noises to make me laugh.”
Many say that Pendray was a friend to everyone. Christi Laney, Houstonian Reporter and friend of Pendray agrees.
“I knew her for five or six months; she was one of those people who would do anything for anyone. She was a very kind person,” said Laney. “I think she understood life should be enjoyed; she had such a great appreciation for life.”
Growing up in a single-parent home, Pendray lived with her father, Mark Pendray and her brother, Chuck Pendray.
“Rachel had such a magnetic personality. She was very popular and very competitive in her sports,” Mark Pendray, Rachel’s father said. “She was in gymnastics as age 2 . She was a resilient little girl.”
While attending Spring Woods High School in Houston, Pendray not only won district champion in diving her freshman year, but she also was the cheerleading captain.
“She loved cheerleading very much,” said her father. “She cheered in high school and then went on to cheer at Sam Houston and she absolutely loved it.”
Remembering her best friend as being ‘very smart’, Sheffield says that Pendray wanted to be a nurse when she graduated college. By the evening of December 3rd, her dreams were gone.
“I just want to make it clear that Jake Taylor was not my daughter’s boyfriend,” Pendray said. “A lot of other news articles are saying that they were dating and that was not the case; they were just acquaintances.”
Knowing Taylor, 24, from high school, Pendray was helping him cope with emotional issues that he had. Approximately three weeks ago Taylor tried to commit suicide by ingesting sleeping pills. When Pendray found out, she called 911, saving his life, according to Sheffield. Pendray told Sheffield a few days before Sunday’s shootings that Taylor was coming over to Pendray’s apartment to thank her for saving his life.
“Rachel was responsible for saving his life a few weeks ago. She got to his house and saved his life,” Pendray said. “This was not her boyfriend, it was her acquaintance.”
About six months ago, Sheffield said that Pendray went on a few dates with Taylor, but she lost interest in him and chose not to date anymore. Sheffield talked to Pendray a few hours before the shootings happened.
“We chatted on the phone for a while before she had cheerleading practice,” said Sheffield. “I didn’t hear back from her after her practice.”
Sheffield says those who got the chance to know Pendray were lucky because she was everyone’s friend.
“She was every guy’s favorite girl,” Sheffield said. “She was beautiful; she looked like a Barbie.”
She was active in church, her father said.
“She would often perform solos at the Christmas plays at church,” Pendray said. ” She believed in God.”
She also believed in herself, friends said. Having overcome various hardships in her life, Sheffield said.
“She was so happy with her life,” Sheffield said. “Everything was going so great for her.”
Being extremely close to her best friends family, Sheffield says that Pendray was like a sister to her.
“She was another daughter to my parents; my parents loved her like one of their own,” Sheffield said. “She had so many inside jokes with my dad and she knew she could always talk to my mom about woman stuff.”
For those who grieve for Pendray, Sheffield said, “I know she would want us to be happy and to keep our chins up. She would want for us to keep up our studies because she wanted everyone around her to succeed.”
A candle light memorial service will be held on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center. Pendray’s funeral will be held on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Fairhaven United Methodist Church located at 1330 N Gessner, Houston, TX 77055.