March 14, 2010

Campus Mourns Loss of Sinclair ’12: Engineering Student Enjoyed Jazz, Physics and Automobiles

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The body of William Anthony Sinclair ’12, a student in the College of Engineering, was recovered from Fall Creek Gorge on Thursday, March 11. He was 19 years old and a native of Chevy Chase, MD.

Sinclair, a passionate and gifted student, was known as a friend of many international students. Having come from a diverse household and grown up in various places, he recognized the value of fostering relationships with students from around the world.

“He spoke of wanting to be the first to reach out to international students in a classroom at Cornell, because he knew the value of a friend in a new country,” Interim Dean of the College of Engineering Chris Ober said. Sinclair was an avid automobile enthusiast, and his friends affectionately gave him the nickname “Axel,” according to Ober.

Ober said that in high school Sinclair’s passions were jazz and physics. When, one year, he had to decide between taking jazz band or AP Physics during a class period, rather than sacrifice one of his interests, “he found a way to do both.” He elected to take jazz band during the class period and taught AP physics to himself during a free period. He would go on to score the highest on the AP Physics exam.

Prof. Robert Thorne only had positive words to say of Sinclair, a student of his in Physics III: Oscillations, Waves and Quantum Physics, in an e-mail that Thorne sent to his class. “I knew William as a curious, warm and gentle person of great promise. This is a terrible loss”, he stated.

“It is tragic when a promising young life is cut short, and to hear of Will’s passion and dreams for the future is to truly understand what we’ve lost,” Ober added. “Together we share this grief and will find ways to honor his life.”

Original Author: Jon Weinberg