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Joseph Frederic Rancourt ’05

A picture of Joseph Rancourt

Joe Rancourt ’05 with his mother, and his sister, Lichen, on the occasion of her graduation from Syracuse in 2006.

Joseph Frederic Rancourt ’05, January 19, 2011, at home in Etna, New Hampshire, from natural causes. Joe grew up in Madison, New Hampshire, and earned a BA in psychology from Reed. Steve Katz ’05, who informed us of Joe's death and helped us learn more about his life, wrote: “I expected to have another 60 years with Joe, and it breaks my heart how many more adventures we could have had together. However, I would never trade the time I had with Joe for anything. The memories of us hiking, going shooting, playing poker, cooking, going to the ski cabin, the coast, Kean's house, and more, will stay with me forever. He was a truly kind, loving person. When Joe died, I reconnected with old friends and got to know Joe's family. We sang songs, drank whiskey, told stories, and lit off fireworks. At the memorial, we saw the rural New Hampshire community as well as friends from around the country turn out in support of Joe and his family. As we all stood up to share our memories of Joe, the snow softly fell outside, and I knew some part of him would stay with all of us.” Friend Lindsey West Wallace ’05 wrote: “Joe was a gregarious friend who was always up for an adventure and looking out for others. Thinking back on our time in Portland, I have many happy memories of Joe from excursions camping, grilling, and exploring the great woods of the Pacific Northwest. Alex (Wallace ’06) and I are so saddened by his untimely passing. He was a very good man.” Friend Timothy Russell ’04 wrote: “Joe was an intelligent and kind person. He had all of the qualities that one looks for in a great friend. When I turned 21, Joe bought me my first legal beer at the Lutz tavern up on Woodstock. I remember he drove us up there after class and we listened to some great music that I had never heard before.” After college, Joe moved to Hanover, New Hampshire, where he was a research assistant in the psychology department at Dartmouth Medical School; colleagues continue to grieve for him. Joe joined the Psychopharmacology Research Group at the medical school in October 2007. Members of the group shared these thoughts: “From the first, he showed us the zest, enthusiasm, dedication, and collegiality that continued and even grew during his time with us. Initially, he worked on a number of research studies seeking better treatments for those suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia. He was a quick study and just terrific-organizing the studies, working with patients enrolled in the research. And he was very inquisitive: he quite quickly learned about the neurobiological theories underpinning the studies.” In April 2010, Joe was promoted to project coordinator, managing a highly complicated neuroimaging study that explored the effects of cannabis in people with schizophrenia-a study typically coordinated by someone with an advanced degree. “We just knew that Joe, with his quick mind and willingness to learn, could handle it, and handle it well.” Joe successfully led the group through the pilot phase of the study. “Recognizing what Joe did, our research group has dedicated this important study to his memory.” From Joe's public obituary, we read: “Joe was a kind and gentle soul, smart as a whip, with a wonderful sense of humor, beloved by everyone who knew him. He loved to travel, read, fish, snow machine with his dad, kayak with his mom, cook for his friends, hang out with his family, and he loved music. He will be sorely missed.” A memorial website, established by Joe's sister, Lichen, is at Survivors include his parents, sister, and grandparents.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2011

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