Cars filled the parking lot at Aldersgate United Methodist Church and overflowed into nearby neighborhoods as hundreds came to a memorial service Saturday for Dallastown Area High School graduate Amanda Strous.

Strous, 27, a Shippensburg University graduate, was pulled from her burning North Carolina apartment on June 18 and later pronounced dead.

Aldersgate was the church she attended growing up, according to the Rev. Roger Mentzer, pastor of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Dallastown, where Strous' parents are members.

A viewing was held before the 11 a.m. service at Aldersgate, 397 Tyler Run Road in York Township. The funeral lasted until shortly after 1 p.m.

About 20 people in Shippensburg University field hockey uniforms came out in front of the church after 1 p.m. and raised their sticks into the air before gathering in a circle.

After that, the crowd of hundreds of mourners appeared and released purple balloons into the sky. Purple was Strous' favorite color.

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

The background: Strous was found in her burning apartment in the 12000 block of Toscana Way in the Steele Creek area of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, about 5:40 p.m. June 18 and rushed to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, officials said.

Mathew Thomas Benner, 28, was arrested in Nevada on June 20 in connection to her death, officials have said.

Strous was the daughter of Eric and Crystal Strous, of York Township. Her parents held a candlelight vigil June 20 in her honor, and hundreds of people attended.

Eric Strous told The York Dispatch that his daughter was an active young woman with "a laundry list" of accomplishments in her short life.

"Amanda was a very special person," he said. "She was an incredible athlete, but she also was a great academic individual."

She worked as a counselor at Central Piedmont Community College's Harper campus for about six months, according to college spokeswoman Kathy Scott Rummage, helping students plan their academic paths.

Shippensburg grad: Strous graduated from Dallastown Area High School in 2007.

She graduated from Shippensburg in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in art, then graduated from the university in 2015 with a master's degree in mental-health counseling, according to a news release on the university's website.

Strous played field hockey in high school and at Shippensburg from 2007 to 2010. She was a forward who played in 79 games for the Raiders, scoring 24 goals and making 13 assists for 61 career points, the website states.

As a senior in 2010, a season in which Shippensburg competed in the NCAA Division II National Championship game, Strous served as a team captain and had a career year, totaling 11 goals and five assists, according to the website.

After spending her first year after graduation as an assistant coach at Hamilton College in New York, Strous returned to Shippensburg in the fall of 2012 to begin her three-year run as an assistant field hockey coach while studying for her master's degree. In 2013, she was the primary assistant on the Shippensburg squad that won its first-ever NCAA Division II National Championship, university officials said.

Strous and fiance Cory McCleaf were to marry July 30, according to her family.

One of her friends has started the Amanda Strous Memorial Fund on, and the money raised will be used for funeral expenses, family counseling and other necessities, according to the page.

As of Sunday afternoon, the site had raised more than $37,000, donated by more than 600 people.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

Read or Share this story: