The issue of PAW you’re holding in your hands — or seeing on your screen — includes our annual “Lives Lived and Lost” section, with short profiles of alumni who died last year. (Because of our printing deadlines, we include one alum who died in December 2017.) It’s published each February in advance of the Service of Remembrance on Alumni Day, this year Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. in the University Chapel.
When it comes to PAW’s regular memorials section, our philosophy is simple: All are equal in death, each memorial limited to 200 words. The memorials belong to the alumni classes: They’re written by class-designated memorialists — classmates or, for older classes, family members — and often include facts you won’t find in a standard obituary, such as a graduate’s sophomore-year roommates, secrets of stealing the bell clapper from Nassau Hall, or the title of a senior thesis. We publish all memorials sent in by the class memorialists and edit them lightly, because each one is a farewell to a friend. (This issue includes an expanded memorials section, so that the queue of those waiting to run does not grow too long.)
The “Lives” section, however, is different: It represents the editors’ effort to tell the stories of notable alumni and what they did with their lives after graduation. This year’s section includes names you’re likely to recognize — people like architect Robert Venturi ’47 *50 and pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton ’40, for example. But there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of others, such as Dana Harrison ’81, who became a force in the Burning Man arts community after a successful career in finance; or William Dohrmann III ’57, whose love of fun turned into a career developing toys; or Clara Meek *77, her elite law firm’s first African American global partner.
In Obit, a 2016 documentary about obituary writers at The New York Times, one of the writers explained: “Obits have next to nothing to do with death, and, in fact, absolutely everything to do with life.” And so in selecting the alumni profiled for this section, we look for interesting stories — people whose life lessons may hold something for the rest of us. Everyone has a story. The challenge is finding them.
We ask class memorialists to suggest classmates for inclusion. And because the memorialists can’t possibly know the stories in each classmate’s life, we’re asking you, too: If, in 2019, you lose a Princeton friend who had something important to teach us, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org