More than 500 Dartmouth community members gathered in Rollins Chapel on February 5 to celebrate the life of Torin Tucker ’15, who died four days earlier from a rare heart anomaly while competing for the College in a cross country skiing event.
There weren’t enough chairs in the chapel to seat the crowd, who heard speakers remember Tucker as their loyal friend, curious student, and hard-working athlete, always with an unfailingly cheerful disposition.
“It’s clear that Torin embodied the ideals that every parent hopes for in a child, that every teacher hopes for in a student, that we all hope for in a friend,” President Phil Hanlon ’77 told mourners. He said that many at Dartmouth have been grieving the loss of one of their own. “In times of joy, in times of great sorrow, we are reminded that Dartmouth is, at its core, a community, an amazingly close-knit community.”
Read more:Tucker, 20, died on February 1 while taking part in the 50K TD Bank Craftsbury Marathon, in Craftsbury, Vt. Thursday, his ski team comrades returned to the spot where Tucker fell and completed the race for him.
Medical tests have indicated that Tucker’s death was caused by a previously undiagnosed, rare arrangement of his coronary arteries, which became squeezed and unable to adequately supply blood to his heart due to the extreme strenuousness of Saturday’s ski race. The resulting oxygen deprivation caused Tucker’s collapse and death on the race course despite repeated attempts at resuscitation by bystanders, as well as physicians, who were also competing in the race.
Tucker’s skiing coach, Ruff Patterson, recalling Tucker’s home base in Sun Valley, Idaho, called the athlete a “mountain boy from a mountain town.”
“He came to Dartmouth with an inquisitive mind,” said Patterson, describing Tucker’s untiring and steadfast commitment to give his all for the team. “I can think of very few who tried as hard.”
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson read Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” After the service, mourners filed outdoors to Baker Lawn and stood in a large circle, each holding a lit candle as the library’s bell tolled 20 times, and a light snow fell over the scene.
Earlier Wednesday, Tucker’s parents, Kathryn Tucker and Scott Tucker, talked about their only son, who leaves a younger sister, Montana. They said they hope Torin’s Dartmouth friends will leave memories and stories of Tucker on a web page that has been set up to honor him.
“Torin loved everything about being at Dartmouth and he was very proud of this community,” said his mother. Tucker’s maternal grandfather, the late Robert Sisk, graduated from Dartmouth in 1950.
The Tuckers said they’ve found solace in spending time with their son’s ski team mates, Chi Heorot fraternity brothers, and other friends who told them how Tucker never failed to phone them on their birthdays, was always seeking a tennis partner, and had compiled a detailed reading list for his friends, complete with symbols to denote genres. The Dartmouth students remembered that their friend tutored his pals, and also those he didn’t know, before exams.
“He was very self-effacing and open with people. And he called that out of others as well, and that does form bonds,” Scott Tucker said. “He found a way to make the time for his friends, and that endeared people to him.”
Torin Tucker was an accomplished back-woodsman and a consummate athlete who took what his mother called “epic trips” around the globe to ski, sail, and row. During the summer, he was a guide with the Sawtooth Mountain Guides in Stanley, Idaho. He was a rock-climber, and was certified in first-responder wilderness training.
“He treated everyone well and that’s how he moved through the world,” said Kathryn Tucker. “He almost never had a day when he wasn’t smiling.”