In the back of the recent W&M alumni magazine was a heartbreaking obituary that I stumbled upon when eating breakfast with my two boys last Saturday morning. Joseph C. Marotta, W&M Class of 1996, passed away suddenly in June. He left behind his wife, who graduated W&M the same year, as well as five children, including nine year-old triplets. He was 38 years old.
Joe was the president of Sigma Pi and very active in the Catholic Campus Ministry. When we used to joke about more students going to the library than the football game on a Saturday, or about how there were folks who went to dining halls at 8 AM on weekends, it was guys like Joe. We were in the undergraduate business program together and shared some classes. He was wildly more focused than me at the the time (no hard feat) and was an all-around nice guy. Not somebody any of us would likely cross paths with socially, but a quality guy who went on to do great things professionally and personally in his brief time.
The news hits me hard because I recently suffered my own loss. In the weeks since, I found myself thinking I'm back to normal, then being jolted harder than usual when hearing about tragic events like this, even when I have little/no connection to the parties involved.
Let's hope this news emboldens us to have the passion and inspiration to pursue our interests as avidly as Joe did, even if they are wildly different.
The obituary for Joe's too short, yet very accomplished life can be found here.