Alex Moll honored at College Green memorial
Moll was remembered through musical performances and an essay by a friend
September 29, 2013, 9:31 pm · Updated September 29, 2013, 10:40 pm·
Imran Cronk | DP
Through song and through speech, friends, classmates and family celebrated the life of the late College sophomore Alex Moll on Sunday afternoon.
“We knew the best way to honor him and the way that I think he’d appreciate the most is by performing, and by offering him something that he always gave to us, which was an incredibly sweet heart and incredible musical talent,” said Engineering sophomore Josef Hoenzsch, a close friend of Moll’s who helped organize the service on College Green.
Moll died in August after an eight-year battle with bone cancer.
In addition to performances by Counterparts and the Penn Glee Club, Hoenzsch and another friend of Moll’s, College sophomore Jack Laviolette, performed “Casimir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens — a song Moll and Hoenzsch had played together. During PennArts, a pre-orientation program where they met, “I approached him and asked him whether he would be willing to play cello for it,” Hoenzsch said.
“This song is about someone dying of bone cancer, and at the time I had no idea he was even sick.”
With Laviolette on the guitar and Hoenzsch on lead vocals, the duo performed the melancholy acoustic song to a strong round of applause.
College sophomore Saraf Ahmed — who also had a hand in organizing the service — read an essay she wrote about Moll called “Thank You, Alex.”
Ahmed recounted a rainy day in April when, on her way to a chemistry class, a conversation with Moll changed her career path.
“You saw me first, and greeted me with a wave and an ear-to-ear grin that I didn’t realize was for me until we were barely two yards apart,” Ahmed, a pre-medical student at the time, said. “‘You’re a writer, Saraf,’ you observed. ‘What are you doing in chemistry?’”
Ahmed said the conversation opened her eyes to what she really wanted to do in life.
“With a simple 10-word question, you gave me the audacity to stop trying to fulfill the expectations that others had for me,” Ahmed said. “I never got a chance to say thank you, but I’d like to think that someday I will.”
Sandy Schwartz, the faculty master in Fisher Hassenfeld College House, who became close with Moll during last school year, spoke about a side of Moll that he let few see.
“He had to think about things that most of us never have to think about,” said Schwartz, a professor with appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School. “He left the little bit of money he had … to a friend of his in high school who was less fortunate economically and often couldn’t do things with the other kids.”
Moll also left money to a local student to whom he gave cello lessons so that he could continue to learn music after he died, Schwartz said.
Schwartz added that a brick, reading “Alex Moll, Class of 2016,” would be placed on Locust Walk on the bridge over 38th Street, at Moll’s request.
“When I go over that bridge and I see the brick for Alex,” Schwartz said, “I’m going to remember the enormous footprints he left for us follow.”
In lieu of flowers, Moll’s family requested that donations be made to the Eastern Youth Orchestra in Greenville, N.C., or to George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, Calif.