Devin Kelly, a Santa Clara senior who passed away last month, is remembered for being creative and contemplative
The Santa Clara
April 19, 2017
On March 11, Santa Clara lost a valued member of its campus community. Senior Devin Kelly, who passed away unexpectedly, will be remembered for his kind, loving and philosophical personality as well as his affinity and aptitude for reading, writing and poetry.
Born on July 9, 1995, Kelly was raised in Ventura, California where he graduated from Foothill Technology High School in 2013. He was expected to graduate from Santa Clara in June with a degree in English. He held an on-campus job at Media Services and lived in off-campus with five close friends.
Senior Anthony Chirban, Kelly’s roommate and one of his best friends since the two met during their first year at Santa Clara, spoke at his memorial in Ventura. There, Chirban eloquently described his companion, capturing Kelly’s contemplative and warmhearted spirit in his speech.
“Devin, enchanted by nature, a disciple of divine creativity and imagination, a burgeoning artist of mind and heart,” Chirban said at the service. “(He was) a poet, a screenwriter, a philosopher, a musician, a comedian, a lover and a world-class wingman.”
Chirban also shared the deeper aspects of Kelly’s personality.
“Mused by the essence of Life itself, Devin was an oracular artificer of the Absolute; cultivating inseparable love, relationship and radical openness in a world of exponentially increasing multiplicity and diversity,” Chirban said. “Devin was a man whose center of gravity lied deep within his heart, effortlessly exuding unconditional warmth, love and acceptance.”
Kelly loved to engage in philosophical debates, to travel, to spend time in forests and on the beach, to swim, play guitar and watch movies, according to his friends and housemates.
“His favorite trilogy was Lord of the Rings,” said senior Clarissa Nguyen, one of Kelly’s housemates.
He also loved to read and write, and was a talented poet.
“He had a way with words,” Nguyen said. “He was poetic, endearing, loving and always knew what to say to make his friends feel better.”
Kelly was a huge science fiction fan as well—author Ray Bradbury was one of his idols. He enjoyed incorporating social, spiritual and ontological themes into his science fiction writing, Chirban said.
Professor Claudia McIsaac taught Kelly in two of her classes, Poetry Writing and Advanced Poetry Writing. She said she got to know the senior because he often stayed after class or visited her during office hours to discuss his writing.
“I remember him as being kind and curious (and) intense—and very creative,” McIsaac said. “He was a gifted poet with a keen appreciation of the natural world and an ability to create memorable images.”
According to Chirban, Kelly was in the process of writing an epic science fiction story, which he dreamed of turning into an anime graphic novel. Prior to his passing, he was planning to both write and illustrate the work.
On a larger scale, Kelly sought to make spiritual, philosophical and moral ideas more accessible to the public through stories—primarily science fiction. Nguyen added that Kelly considered joining the Peace Corps, and eventually wanted to work as a screenwriter.
Love, family and friends were extremely important to Kelly throughout his lifetime.
“He was a lover and romantic,” Chirban said. “His relationships with family, friends and previous girlfriends were incredibly important to him.”
His housemates said that their favorite memories of Kelly are centered around his mannerisms and day-to-day habits. He often lounged in a large green robe, and was famous for making grilled cheese sandwiches.
“He just loved the little moments in life and cherished his loved ones,” Nguyen said.
Senior Sanika Lakka, another one of Kelly’s housemates, said one of her dearest memories of Kelly was from just a week before his passing. The two found themselves at Lakka’s former high school in the Santa Cruz mountains where Kelly insisted on climbing a large tree he had found, despite Lakka’s concern about the risky outdoor endeavour.
“Once he reached the top he looked so peaceful up there,” Lakka said. “It was a good sight to see.”
According to his hometown obituary, Kelly is survived by his parents Michael O’Kelly and Gisele Tryon-Kelly, grandmother Virginia Goena Tryon and many aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family members and close friends from both Ventura and Santa Clara.
A candlelight vigil was held in Kelly’s honor in front of the Mission Church on March 11, and a memorial mass was held on April 8 in his hometown of Ventura. The Devin Kelly Memorial Fund was established to facilitate a memorial scholarship and educational program. Contributions to the fund can be sent to: “Devin Kelly Memorial Fund” c/o Rabobank, 304 E. Main St., Ventura, CA 93001.
Contact Krista Clawson at email@example.com.