Deceased June 7, 2023
With his infectious laugh and winning smile, Joe Rachiele was a force of nature. He could connect with anyone and fit in everywhere, traits that are difficult to find in the world, let alone in a physics major and philosophy Ph.D.
When we arrived on campus freshman year, I hadn’t had the chance to talk to him yet because he had already begun the cross-country drive from Seattle. We quickly made up for lost time over marathon duels of FIFA 2000. He told me that the world of Amherst was foreign to him, but you wouldn’t know that from the sheer number of people he knew by the end of orientation. Living on the first floor of Stearns, he knew all the athletes; through philosophy, math and physics, the more academically oriented; and through endless hours at the dining hall, virtually everyone else.
Joe thrived at Amherst: he won the physics prize; participated in seven productions, including Voices of the Class and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; and won a Watson Fellowship to examine cultural imperialism through pickup basketball. Joe was the epitome of the liberal arts student, trying anything and succeeding at everything. He went on to Princeton, where he studied the philosophy of physics in a doctorate program. Joe Rock-ed New Jersey, spreading his love and laughter there, too.
After college, Joe suffered a series of concussions that hindered his ability to participate in the world. He made the best of his condition, making a life with Alissa Figueroa ’06 even though he suffered migraines from all stimulus. He learned sign language and how to cook elaborate meals and found happiness, despite his hardship.
Joe, we love you and miss you, and we have no doubt that you’re doing your Joe thing, wherever you are.
Blake Sparrow ’04 and Daniel Altschuler ’04