Several dozen professors and friends gathered Wednesday at a memorial service at Dwight Hall for Tom Casey GRD ’05, a political science student who died in a kayaking accident in November.
Casey went missing Nov. 8 when he was kayaking in rough weather off Long Island Sound. His body was discovered Dec. 2.
Casey was a teaching assistant for Political Science professor Pauline Jones Luong’s class, “Politics of Identity.”
At the service, friends remembered Casey as a man with an adventurous spirit. He once completed a transcontinental bicycle trip from Seattle to Philadelphia and ran five marathons.
“He was someone who needed a room with a view and adventure,” friend Aleksandra Sznajder GRD ’05 said. “The plan for every day was determined by the weather.”
Political Science professor Robert Dahl, whose memoirs Casey assisted in writing, remembered Casey’s “high intelligence, his curiosity and the independence of his mind.”
“We can’t know what path Tom’s life might have traveled,” Dahl said. “But we can and we do know that whatever life he traveled, he would have enriched the lives of those around him.”
Debra Shulman GRD ’06, who delivered a short biography of Casey, spoke about his dedication to the environment. Before returning to graduate school, Casey worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, helping to write the standards for the Clean Air Act. His uncompleted dissertation attempted to quantify the characteristics that make countries environmentally friendly.
“Tom was particularly proud of his efforts to help the newly democratic Poland set up a system for environmental protection,” Shulman said.
In describing Casey’s helpful nature, Shulman joked about Casey’s political science background.
“He was, in the parlance of our discipline, a one-man solution to the collective action problem,” Shulman said.
Friend Dan Doherty GRD ’06 said that for Casey, making friends came naturally.
“He didn’t just have a favorite local coffee shop,” Doherty said. “He became friends with the owner and the people and the people who worked there.”
Doherty said this friendship went beyond simply knowing the names of the people who worked at the shop. They even showed up at Casey’s birthday party.
Family friend Roland Hosein recalled the last time he saw Casey alive. They ate dinner together and Casey brought five bottles of wine.
“We only had one. We said we’d drink the others at his next visit,” Hosein said. “It never happened.”
The service ended with a montage of photos of Casey, projected against a screen. The images highlighted Casey’s love of adventure, with images of him climbing a mountain, biking and smiling in front of a sign which read “Poisonous snakes and insects inhabit this area.”
Hosein said the tributes highlighted several of Casey’s most prominent characteristics.
“He loved the environment, he loved nature, he loved people,” Hosein said. “He lived a true life, a short life, but a true life.”
Doherty said the memorial service was difficult because it came so long after Casey’s disappearance.
“It was a somewhat strange situation because obviously we couldn’t have [a memorial service] right after because the body was missing,” Doherty said. “But I thought [the service] was well done.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”19477″ ]