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Destler Dodge

On August 29, the annual AppleFest was held outside the Student Development Center. A time of festivities and celebration for NTID students, it continued until 7 p.m. when the crowd of nearly 100 students and faculty filled the M-lot circle for a special ceremony. Candles were passed out and lit, posters with farewell messages were shown and laughter lingered in the air for deceased 24-year-old Timothy Holmes.

Timothy, originally from Stockbridge, Georgia, was an RIT graduate student who received his associate’s degree in Administrative Support Technology back in 2012, a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences and was striving for a master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies. He was announced dead on August 27 of currently unknown causes. A candle vigil was held on August 29, which was streamed live on NTID’s website.

Described as expressive and kind-hearted, Timothy was active in every part of the RIT community. He was very involved in his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, and easily recognized by the entire Greek community. At NTID, he was an active member of the NTID Drama Club who defined many roles as his own, and he was also one of the founding members of the performance poetry group Dangerous Signs. Many freshmen students can also remember him as one of the actors during the signing of RIT’s alma mater during convocation.

“It was clear in his life, and now in our mourning of his death, that Tim was a one-man 'community-creator.’” said Karey Pine, Senior Director, Center for Campus Life. For that, I am grateful."

Luane Haggerty, professor of performing arts at NTID, first met Timothy when he tried to audition for the play “Othello” during his freshman year. “He didn’t get the part, but that didn’t stop him from being involved in every single production afterwards,” said Haggerty. Whether it was helping out backstage, passing out programs or promoting the events, he was a part of everything.

Joseph Fox, theater production assistant for the department of culture and creative studies at NTID, is an alumni advisor for the NTID Drama Club.  He and many other students remember Timothy on stage and the way he made his characters his own. Tim’s notable roles included Teddy in “Arsenic and Old Lace” and Black Santa during one of the holiday shows.

Fox compares Timothy to Robert F. Panara, RIT’s first deaf professor, who also died this past summer. The legacies they have left behind, their love of theater and willingness to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf cultures are just some of many similarities.  There will be a ceremony commemorating the two on September 12 in the Panara Theater.  As candles of the vigil started to dwindle and the crowd was getting smaller, a dedicated few stayed around to share stories and memories of Timothy under the late night sky with fireworks courtesy of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. Timothy’s name and member number of his fraternity are duct-taped on the circle of the quad. Messages written in chalk can be seen in the M-lot circle, and many mourned his death on social media.

Timothy’s likeness and memory will live on in the people he interacted with, the organizations he influenced and the contagious laughter that infected everyone he met. “It’s a tradition in theater that every stage has its ghost,” said Haggerty. “Now we have a special name for Panara’s ghost.”