Hale Ross ’18, an undergraduate from Washington, D.C., died on Sunday evening. Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway informed the Yale community of the news in an email Monday morning. Ross was 20 years old.
In his email, Holloway extended sympathy to Ross’ family and friends and said the Yale community mourns his loss. Ross was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital Sunday evening, according to Calhoun Head of College Julia Adams.
There was no indication of an accident or foul play, Holloway said in his email.
Students and administrators remembered Ross as a dedicated, caring student-athlete and friend with a sharp sense of humor.
“Hale epitomized everything that we aspire to be as a team,” the track and field team said in a statement. “He was relentless in his training, a fierce competitor and a stalwart teammate. His warm smile, wit and friendship are irreplaceable; he was truly the best that Yale had to offer.”
A graduate of the Potomac School in Washington, D.C., Ross was an economics major in Calhoun College. He was a student fellow of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program and ran distance and middle distance for the Yale men’s cross country and track and field teams, which he walked onto during his freshman year.
On Monday, the Athletic Department held a gathering in the Trophy Room at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, which was attended by many members of the Yale cross country and track and field teams.
“It is very difficult to make an impact on an NCAA Division I cross country team as a walk-on athlete,” said David Shoehalter, the director of Yale track and field and cross country, in a statement to the News. “Through pure effort and determination, Hale worked his way onto our varsity roster as a freshman and into our scoring team this year. But his athletic accomplishments only tell part of the story. He was above all a teammate and friend: eager to contribute to our success in anyway possible. We are all privileged to have called him one of our own.”
That same morning at the Calhoun College House, members of the Calhoun community recounted their memories of Ross, whom Adams described as “a beloved person.”
Community members are gathering in the Calhoun College courtyard at 8 p.m. tonight to pay their respects. Other residential college heads and deans have opened their doors for students to gather and support each other.
“There’s great sorrow, but he was also a joyful person,” Adams said. “He had a charming, dry wit and immense care and concern for others.”
She added that Ross was an avid reader of comedic novels and recalled discussing Evelyn Waugh’s “Scoop” with him.
Calhoun Dean April Ruiz said she remembers Ross as an attentive listener and enthusiastic student who always stopped to play with her dog in the college courtyard.
“When he would see me in the courtyard, he wouldn’t just wave or nod and keep going, he would always walk into the middle of the grass, right up to me, to check in and say hello and ask how I was doing,” Ruiz said. “He always took the time and was always warm and sincere and cheerful about it. It was one of the many things I loved about him.”
Ruiz said she taught Ross last fall in her “Introduction to Cognitive Science” course and that he would sometimes discuss interesting aspects of the course with her when they ran into each other on campus.
Elle Brunsdale ’15 SOM ’19, who worked as a freshman counselor in Calhoun during Ross’ first year at Yale and was also his teammate, said she last saw Ross in the summer of 2015 while he was running along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Trail in Washington, D.C.
“He was just super kind and lively and happy,” Brunsdale said. “He just recommended a great place in D.C. to get fish tacos. The best place in D.C. to get fish tacos.”
Jason Dwyer, who coaches the Potomac track and field team, recalled running with Ross during recent holiday breaks and added that Ross helped him work on home-improvement projects.
As captain of his high school team, Ross competed in both relay races and individual events, sometimes to the detriment of his individual times, because he valued the whole team just as much as his personal accomplishments, Dwyer said.
“He was witty,” Dwyer said. “It was a very lovable, endearing, sweet, innocent sense of humor.”
Gianmarco Terrones, who was Ross’ teammate for two years at the Potomac School, described Ross as a role model for the team. While Terrones was a sophomore, Ross’s poise under pressure helped alleviate the team’s anxiety before important races, he said.
“He worked extremely hard, was a caring and good person, and had an awful, and thus hilarious, sense of humor,” Terrones said. “Hale will be very deeply missed by everybody who has ever had the privilege of being on a team with him or gotten to know him and that is a testament to how special he was to us.”
Cameron Stanish ’18, one of Ross’ cross country teammates at Yale, described Ross as a lover of fantasy football who enjoyed playing golf and telling jokes.
“He loved running in a way that few do and was rarely seen without a banana or two in his backpack just in case he needed a healthy snack in a pinch,” Stanish said. “He was a thoughtful guy who always had a good pun or dad joke to contribute to the conversation.”
Ross’ funeral will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Adams said she will provide a bus for Calhoun students who wish to attend the ceremony.
University President Peter Salovey told the News he intends to join the Calhoun College community in mourning Ross’ death at the gathering tonight.
“Any time a student on our campus dies, it’s a tragedy we all feel,” Salovey said. “My heart goes out to his family, friends and all others who knew him. I plan to join the Calhoun College community when they gather later today to support each other.”
Yale Mental Health and Counseling staff are available at 55 Lock St. or by phone at (203) 432-0123. The Chaplain’s Office is open until 11 p.m. on weekday nights.
This post was updated to reflect the version that ran in print on Nov. 1.
Correction, Nov. 1: An earlier version of this article misattributed a quote to the cross country team. In fact, it was the track and field team.