WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Mourners of Dr. Maya Angelou left flowers, pictures and handwritten notes outside her home Wednesday.
"This is like my idol... I loved her so much," said Dezmonee Seovey, a senior at Mount Tabor High School, who stopped to bring flowers. "It's just really breathtaking that such a great person is gone."
Angelou's legacy of deep wisdom, courage and grace touched people of all generations.
"To this day she's probably the most intelligent person I've ever met in my life," said Matt Imboden, a 2006 student of Angelou's World Poetry and Dramatic Performance class at Wake Forest University.
"She called us out by our first name, from the very first day of class,” Imboden said. “She had us over to her home where she made dinner for us and sometimes. She found out some of the students in the class wasn't going home for Thanksgiving, so she invited them over to her house."
Her impact on Wake Forest University's family, where she was a professor of American Studies since the early 1980s, went beyond the classroom.
"She's the kind of person who had an impact that if you ever had one interaction with her you felt connected with her forever," said Angelou's friend Barbee Oakes, Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Wake Forest University.
Oakes first met the famed poet when she was just 18 and was inspired by Angelou's life lesson of using your story to help others.
"Taking every experience in your life, whether good or bad, and turning that for the good,” Oakes said. “No matter what has happened to you, if you can use that story to help someone else be successful then you need to do it.”