In Memory of Eric Wu
- October 9, 2020
- Posted by: phil
- Category: Uncategorized
Dear iRecover community,
iRecover founder Frederic Whitney “Eric” Wu was killed in a tragic automobile accident on September 23. He swerved to avoid hitting a deer and was killed by ongoing traffic in the aftermath. Eric was born on October 8, 1999 in Manhattan and resided in New York City and Manchester, Vermont. He was a graduate of Saint David’s School in Manhattan, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and was a junior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island at the time of his death. Eric was a dedicated honor roll student throughout his career. He received the following commendation from Saint David’s at his graduation: “Finally, the Scholastic Excellence Award honors the student whose intellect and application have made him a beacon to his classmates. Throughout his years at Saint David’s, he has consistently earned the highest honors in the most challenging and maximum number of subjects. He is the scholar of the house.” He was known to friends and family as”extra mile Eric” as he went the extra mile in everything he did though he would never talk about his accomplishments. One of his dean’s at Andover recalled that “Eric was a quiet leader who always thought of others. He was a kind, gentle giant whom the younger boys looked up to when he was Prefect”.
Eric was a great athlete who played squash and ran cross country and track and field at Andover. He spent many summers working on his golf game and was a five handicap player who earned his first hole in one at Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester when he was fifteen years old. This year, Eric was training for an ironman triathlon in France. Eric was studying computer science, philosophy and comparative religion at Brown and was interested in public service. He was considering joining the Peace Corps. Eric had a summer job helping underprivileged teenagers learn about finance. He founded a not for profit called iRecover.education, which provided peer to peer education about substance abuse for high school kids. He shared his online substance abuse education curriculum with several not for profits including Dr Oz’s HealthCorps.
Foremost, Eric was an explorer who was always striving to push boundaries both physically and intellectually. He loved the great outdoors and was a seasoned long distance runner, mountaineer and motorcyclist. Eric was interested in travel, adventure and spiritualism. He traveled last summer to Tibet and Nepal, visited monasteries and trekked across the Himalayas and to the base of Mt. Everest. His religion teacher recalled that “Eric was a young man who was always searching. He had a keen, inquisitive mind and was seeking the difficult answers beyond the obvious”.
Eric was never one to toot his own horn. The President of Brown was so nice to recall a breakfast she had with ROTC students. She met Eric and was wondering to herself who this young man was who got up at 5 am on weekdays to go to Providence College to shadow ROTC drills and who spent weekends training in the mud without being formally enrolled in ROTC. Vintage Eric: he received no stipend, no commission, no scholarship, no recognition, but went the extra mile anyway.
Eric loved riding his bicycle and his Harley Davidson in the Green Mountains. This tragic accident of a young man in the prime of his youth has left a void in his family and his communities. He is survived by his parents, Hope and Douglas, his brother, Philip, his grandmothers and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private, family memorial service will be held at the Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester, Vermont at 1:30 pm on October 8, 2020. A memorial service in New York will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Frederic Whitney “Eric” Wu Memorial Fund at Saint David’s School, 12 East 89th Street, New York, New York 10128 would be welcome.
Here are some additional quotes from friends and teachers:
“Eric Wu was an eloquent, distinguished young man who could use adverbs with the natural flair of an Elizabethan writer. He was a walking thesaurus competing with classmates on every quiz and would jump up to greet every visitor to a classroom. His passion for language and commitment to learning penetrated all academic interests. Disciplined, witty, focused and funny, Eric was a treasured friend to his classmates and a valued member of his Saint David’s School community. He will be missed and remembered as a boy who embraced and cherished the mission of his school ut viri boni sint.”
~Headmaster of Saint David’s School
“The Andover community is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Eric Wu, Class of 2018. Eric was a determined and successful student-athlete, a devoted friend, and a beloved community member. Our hearts are with Eric’s family and dear friends.”
~Jennifer K. Elliott, Dean of Students, Phillips Academy
“Eric was special in many ways. I’m grateful that I had the chance to get to know him well throughout his time at PA. He has touched everyone who got to know him with his kindness and the smile on his face. I treasure the moments I’ve shared with him. I will always remember him dearly. “
~Khiem, Andover dorm master and teacher
“I used to see Eric in the gym, and in my four years at PA, I’ve never, ever, seen anyone work as hard and be as dedicated as your son. We would all watch in awe as he would continue doing pushups, pullups – or any exercise – to the point where his whole body was shaking and each repetition took 10 seconds or more. I remember the admiration I had for him and how it changed the way I looked at grit, and I’m sure he took this approach in other areas of his life as well. I’m so sorry for your loss and can’t imagine what your family is going through.”
~Teymour, a friend from Saint David’s and Andover
“Eric always strived for perfection, no matter how long it took. You will be loved and remembered forever, goodbye my friend.”
~Tyler, a childhood friend and classmate
“I always loved watching him out on the range for hours and then grabbing his bag and heading out to play with you. Such a great young man! And, with such a bright future ahead of him.”
~Tony, a friend from the golf course
“As we raise our young children, please know that a small part of your son’s life will forever become a part of their lives as a result of our having been touched by Eric’s story. We hope that Eric’s legacy, through all the lives he reached, gives you comfort knowing his spirit will live on.”
~Matt and Courtney, neighbors
“I am so sorry. Eric was one of my first and most precious friends. I’m going to miss him a lot. I already do.
I feel like most people don’t have this relationship to their middle school, but I cherish my memories at Saint David’s as much, if not more, than any other phase of my youth. And that was the simple result of the relationships we formed there, which we knew would last us our entire lives.
Eric was studious – he could be reserved some times. If you hadn’t grown up with him for the first 14 years of your life, you might’ve missed the acerbic wit, the dry humor, the easy willingness to, once you got to know him, break out into gut-busting laughter. But what you probably wouldn’t miss, no matter how subtle it was, or how little gratitude he expected for it, was his gentleness.
He was the consummate friend, always focused on you and pathologically incapable of bragging or any kind of self-centered behavior. I still remember the day that Eric got into basically every high school he applied to. We were on the Italy trip and, even in that no-privacy environment, we had to wheedle him to fess up. The most self-congratulatory he would ever get was a small smile, if you paid close enough attention, whenever something he worked hard for paid off. I loved those smiles.
He was quietly exceptional. Everyone knew it, so we didn’t feel like we needed to say it. I’m saying it now. And I will say it for the rest of my life. Thank you for raising such a wonderful friend to me.”
~Alexander, a childhood friend
“I just want to express my deepest gratitude for raising Eric. We entered the world within a couple of weeks of each other, and came of age together. Even if I would go a year without seeing him, our rapport would immediately resume where it left off, years after Saint David’s. He was a compassionate and loyal friend, and a testament to a happy home.
Every year, on Eric’s birthday, I plan to run through our shared photos and videos, read this obituary, and speak of him with friends. But more importantly, I know we as a Saint David’s class will try our very hardest to honor him with the lives we lead. For me, that is a call to practice quiet integrity, humor, and – above all – humility. “
~more from Alexander
“ Eric will always be a reminder to us of what is most important in our lives – modesty, caring about and for others, in little and big ways, every single day.”
~Lisa and Stephen, parents of Eric’s childhood friend
“I am completely distraught, at a loss for words, and cannot begin to express what a sad time this is. I am shell shocked, there isn’t a better phrase for it. Eric was an exemplary human, and an even stronger, determined, and hard working man than anyone I knew while at St. David’s. He was constantly pushing himself, elevating his peers, and working until he was satisfied. I will never forget walking into his hotel room in Rome, to find him with sweat running down his eyebrows as he finished his set of 100 pushups and sit-ups, and here I was a chubby, undisciplined little middle schooler trying to convince him to be my reinforcements in the hallway water wars that were taking place. (Ha, not sure if you had heard about that one). I couldn’t tell you exactly how it happened next, but I do know Eric did not stop his training to help me with my futile mischief, because that’s who Eric was, he didn’t have time for pointless distractions, he was focused and resolute, and I, along with my whole class, knew he was going to accomplish so much in life. If I remember correctly, he was studying intensely while also training in the ROTC program, further demonstrating his heart and the gold standard he held for himself.
Yet, despite his determination and the genuine genius that Eric embodied, I will always remember the times after graduation when he would lose his facade of resolution and, damn, could we have a good time, laughing and dancing. I am more than thankful for the times my class has come together following our days terrorizing the halls of Saint David’s, and most of all the friendships that I continue to hold dearest to me.
I write this with tears in my eyes and a deep sense of loss I cannot express. I will always regret not spending more time with him following graduation, having his stoic voice of reason there to help guide us or his unwavering personality rub off on me just one more time.
Eric was an exemplary leader, a wise-beyond his years class-mate, and most importantly, one of the most reliable, genius, and wise friends I and we as a class, will ever have.
It’s almost too terrible to say, but we all expected Eric to do big things. Whether we took it on ourselves or not, I know we were all inspired by his work ethic. We knew he had big things planned for this world, and he had the determination to make it happen. I lack the words to contain my sadness in knowing I will never be able to witness the great accomplishments of Eric.
I don’t really know how to close this out Dr. O’Halloran, you were always much better at finding the moral of the story. We all love Eric and I know my classmates and myself cannot believe it is true, even today. But I truly hope we can honor Eric appropriately, such as a fund for future students in his name or something else, I don’t really know, but something. Thank you for your time again, Dr. O Halloran, please stay in touch and let me, as well as my class, know how we can help”
~Davis, a childhood friend
“I am writing you regarding the death of Eric, and to hopefully put forth a few words about him that might convey the start of what he meant to me and all of us at Saint David’s.
The class of 2014 was incredibly close. Some 40 boys beginning school with each other at only four years old, unsurprisingly, created a fraternity amongst us from the very beginning. Very different from one you’d find at college campuses, our fraternity was a true family for 10 years, and remained so post-graduation. Eric was our brother, and one of the most exceptional men I had the honor of being friends with. From the very start of our Saint David’s life, Eric and I were very close friends; he was highly intelligent, incredibly capable, and extraordinarily motivated. Eric was the first in study hall and the last to leave. A consistent go-getter, Eric would never settle for anything short of excellence, achieving near perfect grades throughout his time at Saint David’s and becoming the de facto go-to man for struggling students in our class since as long as I can remember. Eric’s incredible intellect and unmatched ambition lifted us all with him to higher standards of success, and caused us all to believe he was truly capable of great things in his special life. One such memory I will never forget was in 7th grade Latin class with Dr. King. Everyday we would have a 2-question quiz on last night’s reading homework. One afternoon, Eric scored a 1/2 having made a simple mistake. He approaches Dr. King before class and asks him if he can do extra credit to make up for the point lost, to which Dr. King explained that individually, each quiz is hardly worth much in the long run and that his stellar record so far would not be impacted. This was unsatisfactory to Eric, which we soon realized as he continued to press Dr. King for extra work. Given a final no, Eric returned to his seat disappointed, which we all naturally assumed was the end of his battle. Needless to say, this was not the case. Eric returns the next morning, greets Alex Karr and I on the way in, and approaches Dr. King with a stack of papers in his hand. “What is this, Eric?”, Dr. King says, to which Eric replies, “This is an essay on the Roman Presence in Britannia”. Dr. King, with the most bewildered, shocked, and astounded look on his face, asks Eric how many pages this essay was and how long it took him. “10 pages, 8 hours. Can I please have the extra point back from my quiz yesterday?” Alex and I, in equal shock, begin to laugh at a lack of any other reaction, for Eric had just produced a University-level writing assessment solely to regain an irrelevant point on a quiz. Dr. King, recognizing Eric’s supreme determination and abnormal capacity for achievement, hands the essay back to Eric and says “You can have the point back, only if you never spend all night on an unassigned essay again.” Eric replied, “Thank you, no promises.” This was the essence of who he was, how he acted, and what he believed in. Even the littlest things meant the world to Eric, as he always wanted to make his parents and Philip proud.
Aside from his vigorous work ethic, Eric was a true friend and one of the closest I’ve ever had in my life. It seems like yesterday we were in Ms. Hopkins’ 1st grade homeroom as I was distractingly throwing paper airplanes across the room while Eric was honed in on an immaculate and detailed drawing of a ship he had seen earlier. Eric transformed a regular sheet of copy paper into art, which was hung on the wall for years to come. I remember Eric and I, and our other friends, playing video games at home together during the 5th and 6th grade years, where online team games became the fad of the century. Somehow, Eric managed to find time to beat us all in video games while still maintaining his academic excellence. With the countless hours, days, and years I spent with Eric, I could write a novel, but one in particular will always stay with me. In the summer going into our 8th grade, Eric and our friend Tyler Holder came to visit me in our family’s Long Island home for the weekend. I am not sure if you remember this, Dr. O’Halloran, but on that weekend we were biking in town when I was hit by a car, thrown across the concrete street, and left badly injured and terrified of what had just happened. Eric was there to hold my head up off the pavement and tell me that I was going to be okay. Eric was in the ambulance making sure the paramedics were aware of the extent of my injuries. Eric was in the emergency room for hours, waiting for news to deliver to my family. Eric was there to push me in my wheelchair, help me get settled at home, and talk me through the deep sadness I felt for my mangled body. Eric was there to entertain me, to keep me in high spirits and to never let me feel alone. And when school finally began, Eric was there to carry my books as I took the elevator. Eric was there waiting for me so I wasn’t the last one to arrive every time. And Eric was there when I could finally walk on my own again. Eric was always there for me, when I needed it most and when I didn’t realize I needed it at all. He always was, still is, and always will be the exemplification of what “that they be good men” strives to instill in us all. Somehow, Eric was with me in my darkest hour following my car accident, yet I cannot begin to comprehend how I was not there for him during his. I have spent every night since I received the news sitting up in bed with tears in my eyes wondering how he must have felt being alone in such a tragedy. I have gone to church everyday to say a prayer for him and his soul, to hopefully find any source of solace, but I have come back empty handed. I don’t believe I have processed even the start of grievance or mourning, for I can barely do the simplest task without conjuring a fond memory of him or thinking of the awfulness that occurred that fateful night. I have lost a true brother, Dr. O’Halloran, as have the rest of the Class of 2014 and all who knew him. I keep scrolling through our messages only a few weeks ago, where he seemed excited to hopefully see his friends soon and resume ROTC, yet another enormous and honorable undertaking Eric managed with dignity and success. Somehow, and unsurprisingly, I do not expect my grief to wither away anytime soon. He was true family to me, and his death has left a hole in my heart. I’ve run out of tears, I can only stare at the wall hoping to see Eric one more time, before the haunting reality of his passing creeps back into my mind. It is an unimaginable tragedy that has left me devastated for the loss of someone I considered family.
I did not mean to write this long a message to you, Dr. O’Halloran, for which I apologize. I guess I just hoped to put together a few words about Eric that can hopefully convey what he means to me and to our family at Saint David’s. Eric was truly a good man, better than most, and was taken from us far, far too soon. His incredible personality, intelligence, and determination were destined to take him to great places. It is my sincere hope that with your support, we can organize a fund or a dedication to Eric at the school that does him justice and thanks him for what he gave all of us throughout his life. Saint David’s was a home for Eric as it was to all of us, he was our brother and a role model, and I know he would smile and appreciate us memorializing his great life. If it is at all appropriate, please extend my and my family’s deepest condolences to Douglas, Hope, and Philip. If my pain is this unbearable to me, I cannot imagine the incomprehensible grief they are experiencing. I am praying for them that they find light and hope in this tragic time.”
~Nicholas, a childhood friend