Mourning Kathryn CurrierGAMBIER, Ohio (December 12, 2011)
Kathryn E. Currier lived to learn. Kathryn '15 was known for her intelligent grace in the classroom, her optimism, and her sense of compassion.
She died on Thursday at age eighteen while embraced by her family at Riverside Hospital in Columbus. She had become ill on Wednesday.
Kathryn was a remarkable student, absorbed in a quest for knowledge and perhaps most at ease in the company of books. While a student at the Charlotte Country Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina, she was given a list of 100 best books to read in a lifetime; scanning the list, Kathryn checked off seventy-seven of the titles.
"She loved books. She loved reading - and I mean loved it," her father, David C. Currier, said. "Kathryn loved academics. She just had a passion for learning. It was incredible," he said. "Not succeeding 100 percent was not an option. And that was for her own satisfaction. She didn't want to be No. 1. She just wanted to get the most out of her learning."
An early reader, her interest ignited with the Harry Potter series, which Kathryn read more than ten times. Kathryn's admissions essay is a paean to literature and learning, noting that the first book she read by herself was The Velveteen Rabbit, at age five. "I distinctly remember feeling as if I had unlocked a hidden door and discovered a secret."
Her academic interests at Kenyon, which her father said she loved, included English, history, and, recently, psychology. A budding interest in art history also took root this semester.
Professor of Art History Eugene Dwyer was Kathryn's advisor and teacher in Greek art. "She was an ideal student, a natural student," Dwyer said. "She loved learning. She was so excited at the prospect of studying here. She wanted to study everything.
"She was constantly upbeat," he added. "She just brought something new and wonderful to the College. People are devastated."
Among those coping with a sense of loss is English instructor Ellen Mankoff, who taught Kathryn in her course "All About Eve." "She lit up the room," Mankoff said of Kathryn, who took a seat at Mankoff's right hand at the seminar table.
"It was not simply that she was brilliant, but that she was genuinely interested in what all of her classmates had to say. She was generous," Mankoff said. "We mourned her on Friday, and one of her classmates pointed out that she was one of the kindest, most generous and optimistic people they had met.
"One student said she could lead a classroom discussion herself, but she had the sensitivity to step back when someone else wanted to speak," Mankoff said. "She was full of the joy of learning and she was able to communicate that in a way that was inspirational and didn't cause envy. She was wonderful."
Her friend Johanna Klinman '15 of Potomac, Maryland, described her as "incredibly kind" with a sympathetic ear. She shared her knowledge but did not boast. Her heavy class load did not appear to weigh on her, Klinman said. Kathryn was known to bounce cheerfully down a Lewis Hall corridor at 3:00 a.m. during a study break. "She was a happy person, a very happy person."
Kathryn found time to throw herself into Kenyon activities, joining the Equestrian Team, Fencing Club, and Quiz Bowl. At the Charlotte Country Day School, she was part of Model United Nations and Academic WorldQuest. She was the fiction editor for the Opus literary magazine, played soccer, and spent time working in the school office.
In a statement, Mark Reed, head of school at Charlotte Country Day, said, "Kathryn distinguished herself as a young woman of integrity, an advocate for those who needed help, and a trustworthy friend." She was honored there for "exemplifying passion for literature" and for her contributions to the study of history. Faculty references for Kathryn noted her maturity, her writing skills, and her sense of honor. She was described as "one of the best students" and a "literature connoisseur."
Kathryn could be awkward socially, her father said, but that, in turn, tuned her sense of empathy. "She helped others who might be considered disadvantaged," he said. Mankoff noted that Kathryn "always had a compliment for someone when they were feeling down. She was the one who would say something to make them smile."
Kathryn wrote, "I believe written words are the ultimate source of comfort in my life, reading the ultimate pleasure. There is a freedom in reading or writing literature that cannot be found anywhere else." Only the discussion of literature rivaled her love of reading. "I love inhabiting the worlds inside books, and talking about them keeps these worlds alive longer, and even, if you are lucky, illuminates meaning and introduces new ideas."
Although Kathryn eschewed Facebook, a page In Loving Memory of Kathryn Currier can be reached via this link: http://www.facebook.com/groups/112017038915180/
Kathryn is survived by her father; mother, Libby Currier; brothers Clark and John; maternal grandparents Susan and John Wetzel; and grandmother Nancee Currier. A gathering in remembrance is planned for Thursday at Charlotte Country Day School at 4:00 p.m. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Charlotte Country Day School General Scholarship Funds, 1440 Carmel Rd., Charlotte, North Carolina, 28226.
December 12, 2011