Remembering Ryan Adams and Carey Depuy: Colgate Gathers to Honor the Lives of Former Students

On the anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of first-years Ryan Adams and Carey Depuy, the greater Colgate community gathered in the Colgate Memorial Chapel to pay tribute to their lives.

Jessica Jallen

On Tuesday, September 20, members of the Colgate community gathered in the Colgate Memorial Chapel to commemorate Ryan Adams ’19 and Cathryn (Carey) Depuy ’19.  

Last year, the two students died in a plane crash on September 20, 2015 after taking off from Hamilton Municipal Airport. The following evening, over 2,000 members of the Colgate community gathered on the Academic Quad for a candlelight vigil in their honor. Now, one year later, the community has shown that these students will not be forgotten.

On the anniversary of that tragic accident, the Konosioni senior honor society provided markers, felt and pens to those who wished to write thoughts and messages, which were put together to form a quilt. The messages ranged from words of comfort for the community to notes addressed directly to Adams and Depuy.

During the memorial service on the anniversary of the accident, the Chapel was lit by candles distributed to all the attendees. As students, faculty and members of the larger Colgate community filed into the pews, soft piano music allowed for quiet reflection among the audience.

Speakers who knew Depuy and Adams celebrated their lives, and also discussed how their memories still impact and inspire them every day.

The first students to approach the podium were some of Depuy’s close friends, who emphasized her contagious smile, fun spirit and endless energy. They spoke about the positive attitude she always maintained, even when faced with obstacles, whether during her participation on Colgate’s varsity track and field team or in everyday life. She had the ability to bring people together from different backgrounds, making everyone feel comfortable and at home. One friend said that although Depuy is gone, she still motivates her every day to live her life to the fullest.

A professor of Depuy’s also spoke of her remarkable ability to connect with people. He cited one afternoon when she came into his office to discuss a paper, the majority of which was spent having a genuine conversation. He said that her ability to truly forge connections with people inspires him today to put himself out there.

Another of Depuy’s friends read aloud John Gillespie Magee Jr.’s poem, “High Flight,” which was selected by the Depuy family. Colgate’s Chamber Singers then performed Stephen Paulus’ “The Road Home,” which the group also sang at the candlelight vigil one year earlier.

Next, Adams’ friends spoke of his determination, caring personality and infectious smile. The best way to honor Adams, they said, would be to adopt

his resilience.

One of his professors spoke as well, sharing the time Adams came into his office before classes even started. Describing him as a kid with a huge smile, Adams’ professor said he had come in simply to express his excitement for the class. Initially suspecting Adams of simply wanting to butter him up in hopes of better grades, his professor soon learned that this student’s enthusiasm remained constant, even four weeks into the year. 

The speakers were followed by a performance by members of the Colgate Thirteen, an a cappella group Adams had intended to audition for. They dedicated a rendition of Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to

Yesterday” to Adams.

Sophomore Lindsey Glass did not know Adams or Depuy personally, but has friends who did.

“I think that even without knowing them, they’ve had a huge impact on me and the campus as a whole,” Glass said. “Every time their name[s are] mentioned, or when I attended the memorial last year and the one today, it makes me think about my relationships with the people around me, and makes me want to be more present with my friends and family.” 

Associate University Chaplain and Protestant Campus Minister Corey MacPherson concluded the service with a benediction.

“And now, Colgate University, allow the beautiful lives of Carey and Ryan to forever remind us that life is precious and each day a gift. Go, with this gift that has been entrusted to you, and steward it well,” MacPherson said. “Be a community that loves, protects and cares for one another, not only in times of mourning, but in all our priceless days together.”