NEWPORT BEACH — The ashes of Amy Elizabeth Biehl, the Fulbright scholar killed last week in South Africa, were brought to her home in Newport Beach Wednesday by her roommate.
Melanie Jacobs arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday morning with her 14-year-old daughter, Solange, and walked into the open arms of Amy's parents, Peter and Linda Biehl.
"We thanked her for bringing our daughter's ashes and she said, 'It's my duty,' " Peter Biehl recounted.
Two days before she was scheduled to leave South Africa to return home, Amy Biehl was killed by an angry mob Aug. 25 in the Guguletu township outside Cape Town. Biehl had been in the country 10 months, doing her research on South African women's rights.
A memorial service is planned at 3 p.m. Friday at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, followed by a reception.
At their emotional meeting in the Admiral Club at the airport, the Biehls and Jacobses spent the first few minutes just silently hugging each other.
"It was just a chance for us to embrace, to begin to get to know one another and to talk about Amy," Peter Biehl said afterward. "She and Solange are very brave, and we are thankful that they brought Amy home."
The Jacobses stayed at an undisclosed location in Newport Beach on Wednesday.
The Biehls, in conjunction with Stanford University where Amy Biehl was an undergraduate, today are expected to announce the establishment of an endowment in their daughter's name.
The Amy Biehl Fund will provide financial aid to students from the University of Western Cape to study at Stanford, Peter Biehl said.
In the aftermath of Amy Biehl's death, several memorial services and marches have been held in South Africa by those who decried the violent killing of the woman who devoted her young life to advocating majority rule in South Africa and the countries near it. Biehl was also a champion of women's rights in South Africa, wanting to see them involved in the country's political transition to democracy.
In Namibia, a small southern African country, Biehl's friends and colleagues Wednesday remembered her in a memorial service at the University of Namibia, where she did research in 1989.
"She was a friend of all southern Africans and their arduous struggle for human dignity, peace, democracy and equality of races and sexes," Vice Chancellor Peter Katjavivi told about 50 people who attended the service. "The bitter irony pervading her brutal killing was that the murder was perpetrated by a group of angry youths with whom Amy empathized and for whose betterment she tirelessly worked."
Times wire services contributed to this report.