November 21, 2008

C.U. Remembers Evan D. Wade ’08

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The University community gave a final goodbye to Evan Dowland Wade ’08 yesterday at a memorial service in the Anabel Taylor Hall Chapel. Wade, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major who died in a car crash Oct. 24, was lauded for his faith, humility and talent.
After a brief opening prayer by Reverend Kenneth I. Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work, mourners were welcomed by Dr. Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president of Student and Academic Services. Murphy remarked on a recent reading of Wade’s archived admissions application, saying that the personal beliefs he expressed in his admissions essay were manifested in his everyday life.
One of Wade’s essays dealt with his view on success, which he said were based on the three tenets of personal benefits, public benefits and the extent to which success can be shared.
“For Evan, if success couldn’t be shared, it was pointless,” Murphy said.
Murphy also noted Wade’s humility, a quality which nearly all speakers regarded him for. Despite being a multi-instrument talent, hard-working student and Naval ROTC cadet, Wade never got caught up in his achievements.
“The most important thing a person can cultivate in himself or herself is humility,” Murphy said, quoting Wade’s admission essay.[img_assist|nid=33794|title=In memoriam|desc=A memorial service was held for Evan Wade ’08 yesterday in the Anabel Taylor Hall Chapel.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Prof. Elizabeth M. Fisher, mechanical and aerospace engineering, orated her memories of Wade as his faculty advisor after a melancholy jazz piece performed by The Cornell Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Prof. Paul Merrill, music.
Fisher noted Wade’s diverse interests, another quality for which Wade was widely regarded. In addition to being an enthusiastic member of the residential house Just About Music and a leader in the Naval ROTC, Wade always made time for his church. He pushed back graduation for at least a year by traveling to Finland, where he became proficient in the recondite language of Finnish.
“Two things struck me about Evan in the time that I knew him — his positive attitude and his wide range of interests,” said Fisher. “He was persistent and he was always positive.”
In one particularly poignant moment, Fisher recalled Wade coming to her office in September, and saying he “was on top of the world.” Engaged to be married in January and looking forward to a commission in the Navy following graduation, Wade was emphatic about the direction his life was taking. Fisher ended her reflections by noting that Wade had indeed qualified for a Cornell degree. Though several classes short in certain required subjects, he had taken enough music classes to obtain credit for his major in mechanical and aerospace engineering with a minor in music.
In one of the more eloquent speeches of the afternoon, Naushad Kabir ’10, a fellow Naval ROTC member and close friend of Wade’s, reflected on Wade’s unequivocal purity and goodness. Kabir related his memories as a freshman cadet, feeling ambivalent about his faith and his life’s path. Wade, who was Kabir’s squad leader, made a point to take the freshman under his wing.
“For Evan, nothing was ever a job. He made my success a personal responsibility,” said Kabir.
Following a bittersweet rendition of the U.S. Navy Anthem “Anchors Aweigh” by the Cornell Navy ROTC midshipmen, Reverend Janet Shortall read the reflections of Nora Harrison ’06, another close friend of Wade’s and a fellow member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
Harrison was Wade’s lab partner in their chemistry class freshman year, and recalled his “diligence and determination to succeed” and his love of music. A talented tenor saxophonist, Wade was also proficient on the piano, violin and bassoon.
“For Evan, music was a part of his soul,” Shortall said, reading the words of Harrison. “Evan had so much love, he brought so many people to a higher level of kindness.”
Shortall then invited mourners to come forward with their own memories of Wade. After several friends and acquaintances recollected, Marica E. Smith Wade, Evan’s mother, came forward to share her memories of her son.
Reminiscing on the life of her talented, beloved son, the elder Wade stayed true to his memory with humble but fervent praise. Wade thanked the University community for its fulsome support to her family.
“Evan was so blessed to come to Cornell,” Wade said. “Evan absolutely adored it, and he still does.”
After closing reflections by Prof. Alexander Deyhim, mechanical and aerospace engineering, who read a poem entitled “I’m Free,” the Naval ROTC midshipmen concluded the ceremony with a sepulchral rendition of “Amazing Grace.”