A Joyous Life

May 3rd, 2007

Casey Shearer '00 was the kind of person who read Shakespeare as easily as a box score, who sent Valentines to his grandmother, and who danced with his fiance in the produce aisle of supermarkets. It was no surprise, then, that after he died of heart failure on May 23 - less than a week before he was to graduate magna cum laude - friends and VIPs eagerly celebrated his life at a service in Sayles Hall.

An economics concentrator and a budding sportscaster, Shearer collapsed on a basketball court in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center at the end of his regular pick-up game on May 19. Without any warning or pain, said his father, Derek Shearer, a former U.S. ambassador to Finland, a virus had invaded the twenty-one-year-old's body and eventually stopped his heart. "It's not fair, that's for sure," said his father. "But in the end it really doesn't help to dwell on the why. We all have a kind of infinite sadness in us, but we want to celebrate what was a truly joyous life."

About 600 friends and relatives - including Shearer's father and his mother, Ruth Goldway, a former mayor of Santa Monica, Calif. - gathered in Sayles on May 25 to celebrate Shearer's strength of character. Also among the guests were President and Mrs. Clinton, who are longtime family friends. Standing at the podium with his wife, Hillary, the president remembered when Shearer tutored him in rap music prior to a 1992 appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show. "Casey was horrified that I was going to embarrass myself on national television and blow the election," the president recalled. He continued: "It doesn't take long to live a life, and Mr. Wordsworth was right - the best portions of it are the little unremembered acts of kindness and love. Casey Shearer had a great life."

There was more cheering than crying as mourners - many dressed in sports jerseys - remembered such schoolboy antics as the time Casey Shearer went skinny-dipping in the pool at the ambassador's house in Rome. He loved to bestow nicknames on his friends and, thanks to his warmth, thoughtfulness, and dedication, many students considered themselves his friend. "He taught me how to be a better man," said Abe Chernin '00.

Shearer started sportscasting at age four, when he announced the results of imaginary games among his stuffed animals. He refined his talents as a play-by-play broadcaster and color commentator for Brown Student Radio and as a summer intern at ESPN. Although Shearer's dream job was to be a commentator for his favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers, his immediate goal after graduation was to find work as a minor-league-baseball sportscaster.

At Brown, Shearer was a member of the economics honor society and the author of a weekly sports column in the College Hill Independent. "He wrote with an ease and confidence," said English lecturer Beth Taylor. It was in Taylor's writing class that Shearer met Alyson Grant '99, who became his fiance. "We were playmates," Grant said in Sayles Hall, recalling first kisses, roller-coaster rides, and dances in the supermarket. "Casey and I were always finding different ways - different silly ways - to love each other... I think together we never would have grown up, and we probably always would have been really in love."

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Related Issue
July / August 2000