Reflections on Loss

Yesterday I sent the following message to all who have a Wesleyan email address:

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that Chase Parr of the Class of 2010 was killed Saturday in a car accident in Wyoming that also claimed the lives of her parents, John Parr and Sandra Widener. The family, who lived in Denver, was en route to a family holiday celebration. Chase’s younger sister, Katy Parr, was seriously injured in the crash, though she is expected to recuperate fully.

This is a devastating loss. Our thoughts go out to Katy and to her extended family. As we receive information about ways members of the campus community can reach out in support of the family, we will keep you posted. We will plan a campus memorial service early in the spring term.

Throughout Colorado there have been commemorations of the Parr-Widener family and their many contributions to their community. Chase’s parents were civic leaders who had a long history of working to improve the Denver area. Chase, a student with a passion for social justice as well as for music and theater, was described by a friend as having “an attitude that whatever she was going to do she was going to change the world for the better.” The newspapers report that Katy is improving, and that it is hoped that she will be released from the hospital by the end of the week.

Wesleyan students and professors have already contacted me about contributing to the memorial for Chase. The Dean of the College’s Office will be communicating more information about this in the New Year.

These are holidays when we often bring our families close, and sometimes it is a time when we recollect those we have lost. May Chase’s memory and the memory of her parents be a blessing to Katy and to all who knew them.

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4 thoughts on “Reflections on Loss

  1. On behalf of the 70+ members of History 240: Chase was a valued member of our group — many condolences to the family and to her friends. She was a wonderful presence, a great critical thinker, and a really nice person. She will be missed.

    Claire Potter
    Professor of History and American Studies

  2. Chase was one of the stars of a fabulous FYI, the City in American Fiction, last year. Her comments, her enthusiasm and her generosity of spirit to her classmates and professor will always be remembered. What a loss to Wesleyan and to our world. Gayle Pemberton

  3. My husband, daughter Nomi (’11) and I were in a head-on collision on Sunday, Dec. 23. It all happened too fast to really comprehend it, but no one was seriously injured despite both cars being totaled. We could hardly believe we could all walk away and leave two wrecked cars. (It was wet and slippery – some one hit our rear fender hard enough to send us into a skid and out of control.)
    Nomi and I were taken quickly to a trauma center, but only had a few cuts and bruises; my husband walked away without even that. While we were in the hospital ER, Nomi’s Wes friend called to tell her about the Parr-Wideners tragic death. I still get trembly when I think about all this. I am a person of deep faith, but not one who thinks God picks and chooses. What I got was a very clear picture of our own demise – without actually dying – since our story would have been more or less identical. (Except we have an older child who wasn’t in the car….) I couldn’t bring myself to learn more about this wonderful family until now. Thanks for posting the information. Wesleyan’s response has been, in a word, menschlich. That’s Yiddish for humanly compassionate.

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