WATERVILLE — Colby College students and professors walked silently into a dim Lorimer Chapel on Thursday and then spoke, one by one, about their friend and student, Derrik Flahive.
Those in the crowd of more than 150 wrapped their arms around one another, wiped away tears, sat in silence. Some recalled clearly their memories of Flahive, a junior who drowned Tuesday while studying abroad in Chile.
Some were shaking. Others spoke while crying. They read letters, lyrics and told stories.
Flahive was “someone who served as a model for so many values we hold close at Colby College,” said Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, who opened the memorial service.
She was followed by a couple dozen people, who described Flahive, 20, of Littleton, Colo., as spontaneous, loving, outgoing, athletic and excited about exploring the world.
Garth Franklin, 20, of Worcester, Mass., played varsity lacrosse with Flahive and is also a junior. “He was just a person with such great passion,” he said. “There was just a strong drive and determination that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.”
He described a time when they walked around Times Square in New York City. Flahive wanted to stop and appreciate every street performer, Franklin said. He even stopped to talk with a stranger who was wearing an interesting necklace.
“He would give his full self,” he said. “It’s so ironic and terrible that a person like that would have his life taken from him.”
Flahive was a global studies major and philosophy minor who spoke Spanish. He traveled to Zambia and Tanzania to help build schools, wells and stoves and was a mentor in the Colby Cares About Kids program. He loved to drum.
“Everyone that knew him knew what such a great spirit he had,” Franklin said. “Everyone who knew him can embody a little bit of that.”
On Tuesday, Flahive jumped about 30 feet into the Petrohué waterfall in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park with fellow exchange student Samuel Edward, according to Chilean news reports.
Flahive and Edward were both injured by the dive because of the impact of entry and the rocky terrain at the bottom of the chute-like falls, according to the Santiago Times. Flahive was unable to fight the rough water, and his body was recovered by the Carabinero police, the National Forest Corporation of Chile that administers the park and the Chilean navy.
Edward was picked up by a tourist boat and taken to the nearby Clínica Alemana in Puerto Varas in a state of shock, the Times reported.
Nick Hunnewell, of Chestnut Hill, Mass., a senior on the men’s lacrosse team, said Thursday, “Derrik was a free spirit who did what he wanted.
“In my opinion his spontaneity was his most admirable quality because he did not let others dictate who he was in the classroom, on the lacrosse field or in music,” Hunnewell said. “He will be dearly missed by the lacrosse family and beyond. His spontaneity, creativity and love of life will never be forgotten.”
Mark Macksoud used to teach Flahive drumming and spoke about his kindness, strength and intelligence. He remembered a night when he, Flahive and several well-known drummers ate dinner at the Last Unicorn restaurant in Waterville.
“Derrik volunteered to get up and play in front of all these great drummers,” Macksoud said. “I was very proud of him.”
“He made an impression on me, and a very favorable one,” said Nancy Downey, director of Off Campus Study. “He seemed to be someone who lived in the moment.”
Scott Margolis, 22, of New York City, spoke on behalf of the Colby men’s lacrosse team. “He was a teammate of 40 of ours and more importantly he was one of our very, very dear friends. He was just one of the most caring, generous loving young men that I think probably all of us have ever met,” he said.
“If anyone was having a bad day, he was always able to put a smile on everyone’s face. During a real difficult time, I think that’s how we all need to remember him, as someone who just loved life, had no regrets, and he really seized every day as if it were his last,” he said, adding that the team’s “thoughts and prayers are with Derrik’s family and friends.”
One student read the lyrics to the song “Box of Rain” by the Grateful Dead.
“What do you want me to do, to do for you to see you through? It’s all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago…Walk into splintered sunlight. Inch your way through dead dreams to another land.”
Erin Rhoda — 612-2368