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Hugh Bradley Dornan ’94

A picture of Hugh Dornan

Hugh Bradley Dornan ’94, June 18, 2010, in Darwin, California. Hugh, who died at 39, had a great passion for life and saw himself as a jack-of-all-trades and a Renaissance man. When notifying the college of Hugh's death, Ben Salzberg ’94 wrote, “He had long dreads and cowboy boots when he first came to Reed, and was totally straightedge. He had a radio show on KRRC, when it was in the Doyle basement, and played only roots reggae from a whole milk crate of CDs he brought in. He was also the guy who got me started brewing beer.” Michele Jonsson Funk ’94 wrote: “Hugh and I went to Reed together. My most vivid memory of Hugh is from there. One day when the cherry trees were blooming, he climbed one and hung from an upper branch shouting 'Beauty! Truth! Joy! Love!' in reference to a scene from A Room with a View.” Hugh studied classics at Reed and earned a BA in classics from University of California, Irvine. Professor Walter Englert [classics, 1981–] said, “I remember Hugh as an incredibly bright, generous, and kind person, and an enthusiastic student of Greek and Latin.” Anna Billstrom ’94 recalled Hugh in his role as a dorm dad at Reed: “I remember Hugh telling us freshmen/women at Reed: bring something from home; despite how cool you think college is, you will get homesick. Aw. He wrote a sweet letter as a prospy, and he was equally sweet as a dorm dad.” Hugh began work on a PhD at the University of Virginia in classics and considered teaching writing. From there, he recounted to Michele, he had a miserable experience in legal publishing—"not that legal publishing was bad, but the cubicle life could not have made me unhappier." For three years, he worked as a cabinetmaker, a skill he maintained in later years on behalf of his friends. Three years ago, he was still in a period of transition, but happily reevaluating his priorities, he told Michele. “I've never really been successful by society's standards, and at least I have reached some sort of peace with that. I have fantastic friends here in Charlottesville, and great people from my past whom I long to reestablish contact with.” Friends gathered in Charlottesville to remember him on the occasion of his 40th birthday in September 2010. Hugh's Facebook page carries many pictures and remembrances, including one from friend Winston Barham, who shared this stanza from the Roman poet Catullus commemorating the death of his brother: Accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu, atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale. “Accept these offerings flowing with a brother's tears, and forever, brother, hail and farewell.” [Translation by Walter Englert.]

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2011

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