October 22, 2002

Students Attend Paavola Funeral Service

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Yesterday close friends of Scott Paavola ’05 attended his funeral in Gross Pointe Woods, Mich. thanks to a Greyhound bus funded by Cornell. Paavola, an engineering student, died last Tuesday from an enlarged heart condition.

“I’m glad we all got a chance to get out there,” said Christian Cianfrone ’05, a close friend of Paavola’s. “The family was really grateful we came.”

The bus left Sunday night at 10 p.m. and carried nearly 30 students who are members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and the men’s swim team — both to which Paavola belonged — to the funeral. Students attended a viewing, burial service and luncheon before returning to Cornell early this morning.

Two bus drivers were hired to help complete the more than 20 hour trip.

“Cornell has been very very helpful and accommodating with this tragedy,” said Charlie Ernst ’03, president of Phi Kappa Psi.

Last Wednesday night the fraternity held a formal dinner in Paavola’s honor at which the brothers voiced the idea of attending the funeral as a group. Susan Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services attended the ceremony and agreed to arrange for a bus.

“Often when an athlete on a team dies, it’s not uncommon for a whole team to want to go to the funeral to support the family. We just wanted to make sure they got there safely,” said Murphy.

A week after Paavola’s death, Ernst says fraternity brothers are slowly recovering. “In the house it’s becoming more upbeat, there’s lots more laughter. But a lot of guys are still in shock. It’s tough because we’ll be doing something and someone will say, Scott, or Shaq [Paavola’s nickname], would have done this or said this.”

Members of the swim team are also adjusting. Ernst, also a member of the team, said “Thursday we had our first practice and it was tough, but we’re slowly getting back into things.”

Joe Lucia, coach of the men’s swim team, said as a freshman Paavola showed stellar performance. “He was a wonderful kid who we’re all going to miss,” he said.

A date has not yet been set for an on-campus memorial service for Paavola, although brothers of the fraternity anticipate it will take place about three weeks from now so that Paavola’s family can attend.

Any student in need of support can go to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Gannett: Cornell University Health Services, or can call (607) 255-5208 during the day or (607) 255-5155 during evenings and weekends. If students mention they are calling in response to the death, counselors may be able to help more quickly.

Archived article by Stacey Delikat