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Recent Grad Dies in Colorado Crash

Popular leader of Spectrum killed on dangerous highway


“Katie was one in a billion,” says her friend Justin Touchette (COM’11). “The countless people she reached will remember her forever.”

A 2009 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences, who planned to return to BU for graduate study this fall, was killed last week in a car crash on a northern Colorado highway.

Katherine Tyson, a popular student leader who worked as a tutor in the Educational Resource Center, served on the board of Spectrum (the University’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and allied cultural organization), and sang in the Symphonic Chorus, died on July 2 when her car was struck by an oncoming vehicle on a stretch of highway infamous for its danger. Tyson, who came from Alexandria, Va., was returning from the annual General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists, held in Salt Lake City, when she was killed.

Justin Touchette (COM’11), who worked with Tyson on the Spectrum executive board, says his friend spent much of her time trying to create a comfortable and happy environment for all students at BU. “Katie was one in a billion,” says Touchette. “She was really going to achieve something great. The countless people she reached will remember her forever.”

Eric Kolaczyk, a CAS associate professor of statistics, knew Tyson as an academic advisor and a teacher. He recalls a serious student and a kind person. “I was fascinated by her combination of technical interests in her statistics major and her minor in music,” Kolaczyk says. “That was a rare and wonderful mix. Katie had made it clear to me that she hoped to use her knowledge to do work that would benefit people broadly. To see the end of her dreams is tragic.”

Ashis Gangopadhyay, a CAS associate professor and associate chairman of mathematics and statistics, says Tyson’s death is a sad ending to a promising future.

“I could always count on her to raise her hand in class,” says Gangopadhyay. “She was an exceptionally sincere student. In the final class project, she took it upon herself to lead her group, and largely because of her leadership, everyone did well. I will always remember her smile.”

Tyson, active in Boston’s Arlington Street Church, had planned to join the staff of the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries later this month to work with its Interfaith Youth Initiative. She had enrolled in GRS, planning to pursue a graduate degree in statistics.

The Coloradoan.com reports that the head-on collision that killed Tyson occurred on a stretch of U.S. 287 near the Wyoming border. Between 1993 and 2005, according to the article, that section of highway had 300 crashes, resulting in 26 deaths.

Members of the BU community seeking counseling or discussion about Katherine Tyson’s death may contact Liz Douglass, Marsh Chapel associate for LGBTQ students, at 617-435-8742, Brother Larry Whitney, University chaplain for community life, at 617-358-3392, or Mitzi Kane, at Student Health Services, at 617-353-3569.

Spectrum will host a memorial dinner at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, in the Howard Thurman Center. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail Melissa Straz at mstraz@bu.edu. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on July 18 at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, 1909 Windmill Lane, Alexandria, Va.

A fund has been set up in Katherine’s honor to train and develop leaders among Unitarian Universalist youth and young adults. Click here for more information.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.


5 Comments on Recent Grad Dies in Colorado Crash

  • Anonymous on 07.11.2009 at 4:08 am

    This is so sad; Katie will be missed and remembered by many!

  • Jess Holroyd on 07.12.2009 at 10:48 pm

    So terrible.What a mournful

    So terrible. What mournful news.

  • Anonymous on 07.14.2009 at 1:11 am

    To all the people who read this I am the tow truck driver that responded.I am so sorry for the life that has been taken,we all have so much we never look back on but what I’ve read is she was a powerful person on everyone she touched.I’m sorry for everyones lost,and I’m sorry I never knew her spirit that you all knew. In my work I meet some people on there worst day,but on somedays like this it is good to see so many remember her life.to her famliy I wish the best and I’m sorry I didn’t meet you,I seen you all show up in support,I’m sorry I didn’t at least say something to you but all I can say is I took the best care of the of your lost that was in my power.I hope all a remembance of life,and support for the family……erich & tiff

  • Kurt Knower on 07.15.2009 at 10:18 am

    I was her teacher at Beddow HS She was one of the nicest and intelligent students I ever had the opportunity to teach. My Feelings go out to the family, I will miss her.

  • Elaine "Star" Anzevino on 08.19.2009 at 9:52 am

    Our Katie...............

    I was one of Katie’s Girl Scout leaders. She was quiet, lovable; a team player and a leader! She always had a smile on her face! Enjoyed Katie tremendously and her Dad, Herb and his guitar. Both Herb and Karen were always so supportive to Katie and our Girl Scout Troop and all of our adventures! When I joined FACEBOOK last winter, I was overjoyed to find out that Katie was attending BU- my alma mater for graduate school. I will miss her! I mourn her death. Her parents are in my daily thoughts and prayers.

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