Friends shed tears, share laughs for late Duke sophomore

DURHAM, N.C. (U-WIRE) – With a large bouquet of flowers and quiet music playing in the background, a crowded Goodson Chapel set the stage for sophomore Claire Crowley’s memorial service Saturday morning.

During the service, more than a dozen of Crowley’s close friends shared somber, and at times, humorous remembrances of “Claire Bear” – including sophomore Katie Noto, who read Claire’s self-description as it appeared on the women’s ultimate Frisbee team’s Web site.

“Claire is a subtraction major at the Duke engineering school. She enjoys drinking Mello Yello, listening to Bob Dylan and solving ethnic conflict,” Crowley wrote about herself. “When she’s not playing ultimate, Claire spends her free time looking up long words in the dictionary and cultivating borderline offensive sarcastic tendencies.”

Crowley passed away Dec. 23 after she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle in her hometown of Clemmons, N.C.

“She always had a continuous roaring of laughter and a snarky sarcasm,” said sophomore Samantha Fahrbach, the first one to speak at the memorial. “When I was with Claire, I felt at home.”

Fahrbach’s sentiments were carried through the service by many of the other speakers, who ranged from Crowley’s hallmates and teaching assistants to her teammates and best friends. Each speaker highlighted a different characteristic of her personality.

“She would point out the good things in anyone else, sometimes missing the good things about herself,” sophomore Catherine Nelson said.

Sophomore Laura Cannon noted that Crowley never seemed to be intimidated and was able to challenge Cannon in a way few other people ever had.

“She reminded me each time we met and saw each other what life is supposed to be like,” said sophomore Virginia Crowder. “She always helped us all calm our stressed-out souls.”

And while her friends described Crowley’s personality quirks and traits, junior Andy Cunningham, a TA in the class AIDS and Other Emerging Diseases: Focus on Kenya, spoke about her extensive work with the Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research.

Crowley had plans to travel to Muhuru Bay, Kenya, this summer to help with the creation of the first girls’ boarding school and research center in the region.

Cunningham read several e-mails he and Crowley had exchanged throughout one day in the semester, which highlighted her enthusiasm and dedication for the project.

Despite Crowley’s many accomplishments, sophomore Dana Stefanczyk said that last semester Crowley had confidently admitted that she had no idea what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

Rev. Canon Samuel Wells, dean of the Duke Chapel, said that although Crowley’s life was cut horribly short, the service Saturday celebrated the beauty of her life and of her impact at Duke and around the world.

“She does and will forever live in my present memory,” sophomore Kathy Choi said.