Samantha Koenig was remembered this Memorial Day weekend for something other than her kidnapping and death this past winter. One of the Anchorage barista’s guitars was given away at the Mendeltna Creek Music Festival near Glennallen.
Darcy Hill, a Koenig family friend, says Samantha’s father, James, donated one of his daughter’s guitars.
“I think he wants the music of Samantha to continue to live on, as she does in all our hearts,” says Hill. “He really wanted somebody young, who has a promising future ahead of herself.”
From the sound of it, a 14 year old Anchorage girl fit that description. Destany Hawley, who sings and plays guitar as well as the piano, was the opening act at the festival on Friday night.
On Saturday, festival organizers called her back to the stage to present her with Samantha’s guitar, an acoustic instrument, with three tiny letters pressed into the grain of a black case: “SAM.”
Samantha also had an electric guitar and a flute, that Hill says her father would also like to give away to the right young person.
As for the acoustic guitar, festival organizers felt it was Destany’s destiny to take this instrument home.
“She kind of reminded me of Samantha in a way, as far as her energy, her happiness, her excitement and her love of music,” said Kari Bailey, who schedules the entertainment for the weekend -- and prides herself on making sure talented young people are showcased at the festival.
Destany says she was completely surprised by the gift.
“It’s a huge honor to get this guitar. It’s huge,” said Destany, who like Samantha, has big dreams about a music career.
Destany says she, like many Anchorage teens, followed Samantha’s story closely, from her disappearance to the discovery of her death.
“My responsibility to this guitar is to play it wherever I go,” said Destany, “and pass it on to the next person and show Samantha’s love for music.”