PORTLAND, Oregon — Helpful co-workers. Reliable friends. Well-liked by many who encountered them.
Those were the descriptions family, friends and colleagues gave of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, the two men who were stabbed to death Friday when they tried to intervene when a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.
The following are descriptions by the Oregonian/Oregonlive.com of the lives that Namkai Meche and Best lived and the people they touched.
TALIESIN MYRDDIN NAMKAI MECHE
Meche’s family and friends described him as someone who loved life and enjoyed helping others.
His mother posted about the tragedy on Facebook Saturday, calling him a “hero” who will “remain a hero on the other side of the veil.”
In a statement, the family said: “His enthusiasm was infectious. We lost him in a senseless act that brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common.”
Meche earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2016 from Reed College in Portland and landed a job with the Cadmus Group, a consulting firm in the area.
Ian P. Kline, president of Cadmus Group, praised Meche.
“Taliesin’s life was lost in an act of selfless bravery that reflected the immense character and deep regard for others that his colleagues saw in him every day,” Kline said in a statement. “His heroic actions represent the best of what we all hope to be.”
Meche’s friends told the Oregonian/Oregonlive.com that they weren’t surprised that he would try to help someone in need.
“He saw something. He did something. And that made sense to me,” Jamie Beckett said. “Taliesin was the kind of guy who made you believe that you can be bigger than yourself.”
Christopher Landt, another childhood friend, agreed.
“He would never forget about you,” Landt said. “And if he knew I was struggling, he would contact me and provide me reassurance, boost my confidence.”
Meche did not fear taking a risk to help others, Landt said.
“If he knew he was going to die, he still would have done what he did,” Landt said.
Meche was a considerate student, said Kambiz GaneaBassiri, who taught Meche’s Introduction to Islam class in 2015. If another student was struggling during a class discussion, Meche would say something to back them up.
“He’s just the kind of person, if he saw somebody being mistreated, he would have spoken up,” GhaneaBassiri said.
Best worked for the city of Portland, was an Army veteran and was a onetime candidate for Clackamas County commissioner.
Best, who was married and had four children, was well-liked in his job as a technician for the city Bureau of Development Services, his colleagues said.
“He was always the first person you would go to for help,” said Kareen Perkins, his supervisor. “I’ve talked to most of his coworkers today, and several of them said it’s just like Rick to step in and help somebody out.”
Best worked with about 30 co-workers and hundreds of customers seeking permits from the city.
Best had three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter, said David Austin, a spokesman for Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
Best, who grew up in Oregon, met his wife at Portland Community College, and then joined the Army. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Best said in a voter pamphlet when he unsuccessfully ran for the commissioner post in 2014.
Best retired from the Army in 2012 after 23 years of service.
He started working for the city as a technician in January 2015.
“He was just really good at his job, and just great to work with,” Perkins said.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com