Deceased November 27, 2014

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In Memory

Alexander Byron Hero, known as “Hero” to most, was one of the most influential figures on campus during his four years at Amherst College. A religion major and four-year starter on the baseball team, Hero was an active member of the Amherst community, both on the field and in the classroom. A staunch activist, Hero was committed to making Amherst a better place, whether the fight centered on the food at Val, the quality of the residential life or certain members of the Board of Trustees’ refusal to upgrade campus facilities. Yet Hero’s love of justice and equality extended far beyond Amherst, to deeper issues such as racial inequality, as anyone familiar with his Facebook statuses surely knows.

Many people will best remember Hero as wearing ripped sweatpants, some sort of sweatshirt (likely with no t-shirt underneath) and Ugg slippers around campus, even in the coldest and darkest months of winter. As some of his closest friends, we love to remember Hero in this way because it truly captures his unique personality. A genuinely fun-loving and compassionate individual, Hero did not spend his time lost in self-absorption or trying to impress others with his physical appearance (although he could). Rather, he preferred to make others laugh and smile or engage in heated intellectual debates. It is rare to find someone who cared so little about superficialities and who so honestly let his mind and heart shine to all those that knew him.

Anyone who ever took a class with him, sat with him at Val or read his essays or articles (his response to Prof. Dumm’s article in the Amherst Student is particularly memorable), would know that Hero was an incredibly eloquent and impassioned writer. Yet perhaps because of his constant antics, reading his latest piece was still enlightening, another unforgettable glimpse at the compassionate, articulate and charismatic mind beneath it all. Hero’s writing was consistently magnificent, and his application to the Columbia University School of Journalism, read aloud at his memorial service, floored everyone who was in attendance. Undoubtedly, he would have gotten in. In short, his essays described his desire to bring meaningful social change to the world using sports journalism as his vehicle, although this synopsis cannot ever give Hero’s writing the credit it deserves. His writing was powerful and compelling, and he surely would have succeeded in effecting great change.

Charismatic doesn’t begin to describe the type of person Alexander Hero was. He made us laugh harder, think deeper and stand truer than anyone else. He taught us far more than we could ever return and was poised to fight social injustice and enact great change in the world around him – what more can you ask of an Amherst graduate? He was a true Hero – a gifted mind, a genuine spirit and an unmatched ability to touch the lives of everyone around. We are all better off for knowing him; Amherst better off for having him.

Rob Cahill ’14, Taiki Kasuga ’14, Steven Volpert ’14 and Cam Windham ’14