A native of Rwanda who lived in Platteville for several years died in a car crash in Ohio Sept. 29.
Francois “Regi” Hagenimana, 24, came to Platteville with his parents, Leonidas Bambanze and Consolee Mujawabera, and his siblings in 1997, three years after they escaped the Rwandan genocide.
The family crossed Africa on foot for two years, then spent a year in a refugee camp in Senegal before St. Augustine University Parish sponsored the family so they could come to the U.S.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but from Regi’s Facebook page I read a post saying that they would lay and look up at the stars because it helped with his flashbacks,” said Kathleen Kluth of Platteville, who hosted a Rwandan woman for a year in the late 1990s. “Maybe the flashbacks started in his teens, as he began to understand what they had all been through. On big occasions the Rwandan refugees from all over North America to gather together … they have a very tight bond because of what they went through, and nobody else would even begin to understand it. They don’t have to talk about it, because they all know.”
The Hagenimanas lived in Platteville from 1997 until the family moved to Ohio. Regi attended O.E. Gray Elementary School, his brother Adolphe attended Platteville Middle School, and brothers Aphlodis and Emmanuel and sister Fina attended Platteville High School.
Regi Hagenimana graduated from Centerville (Ohio) High School and Ashland University, where he played football, wrestling and track. He worked at a motorcycle store and was an assistant coach for the Centerville Elks football team. He had just enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Survivors include his mother, Consolee; Fina, Emmanuel, Aphlodis and Adolphe; and other relatives, including his uncle, Francois Musonera, a UW–Platteville graduate. Musonera is the author of Rwanda: Surviving the Genocide.
He was preceded in death by his father, Leonidas, and one brother.
Services were held Oct. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. A candlelight ceremony and balloon release was held at the Elks’ football game Oct. 4.
Condolences may be made online at www.schlientzandmoore.com/book-of-memories/1685727/Hagenimana-Francois/index.php.