SEATTLE - Rebecca Griego was ecstatic last week when she found out the student team she'd mentored through a real-estate design competition had edged out other competitors from around the region.
On Monday morning, a former boyfriend who colleagues say had been stalking her for months walked into her University of Washington office and fatally shot her.
"She's a huge loss. She was every man's daughter. She was loyal and dedicated, and believed with a passion in her work," said her boss, Jim DeLisle, the Runstad Professor of Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design at the UW. "She helped further the education of the people who want to make this place a better world."
Griego, originally from Colorado, graduated from the UW with a bachelor's degree in economics in 2004. She stayed on campus in her professional life, playing an instrumental role in helping launch a real estate program, according to DeLisle.
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Co-workers described Griego as someone who loved animals and who was dedicated to her own dogs. Tall and slender, she stayed healthy and worked out often. She'd recently developed an interest in rock climbing.
"She was a great, very well-rounded person," said Lance Nguyen, a UW graduate student who worked under Griego. "She's loyal, shy sometimes, and fun to be around."
Nguyen said Griego had given him a lift downtown Thursday and was buzzing about her team winning the real-estate challenge against teams from Washington State University, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and Portland State University.
Sponsored by the state chapter of the National Association of Industrial & Office Properties, the competition challenged students to come up with a hypothetical redesign of the King County Administrative Building in downtown Seattle.
"They did a great job, they really did," said Jack Rader, president of the state chapter. "The effort these young men and women put into this is incredible."
But while Griego was excelling in her work, she was also trying to cope with the threat posed by her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Rowan.
She spent a month working from home this year to keep away from him, changed addresses and phone numbers and stopped answering her work phone in case it was him. Co-workers said they were ready to serve the man with court papers should he show up.
"She was scared," Nguyen said. "She did everything she could, but she was still so vulnerable."
Office research assistant Jad DeLisle, the son of Jim DeLisle, said he made sure to visit the office through spring break, the week of March 19, so Griego wouldn't be left by herself. But co-workers felt she would be safer after spring break with so many students around, he added.
"Rebecca was pretty much the key to holding the whole real-estate center together," said Jad DeLisle. "I'm just kind of in shock."