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Campus mourns loss of Phi Mu Alpha brother

By Julia Duggan
Staff Writer

No one could miss the smile on Isaac Ashton’s face. He was one of the two principal trumpets in the College’s last Concert Band performance before the pandemic. Shortly after this concert, students went home and the era of online learning began. There was a promise made that the band would return to perform another concert on campus.

Photo courtesy of Phi Mu Alpha

“Although my time spent with Isaac was short, the memories of his kindness, his humor, and the life he brought to any room and happiness he brought to those around him will truly never leave me nor will it leave my brothers,” said Terence Odonkor, a junior music education major.

Ashton was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and was set to graduate in the spring with a Mathematics degree. Ashton passed away on Jan. 26 from a non-Covid-19 related illness, as notified to the College in an email from President Foster.

“Isaac was the most humble person you could meet,” said Keith So, a junior music education major. “We were in the same pledge class and his voice was beautiful whenever we forced him to sing solos, because he liked to give others the spotlight. From the start, Ashton embodied our ideals, striving to better the world with his music and radiant personality. He left every place better than he found it and may he live on forever in our hearts.”

Giovanni Delgado, a junior elementary education major with a specialization in music, recalled his favorite memories with Isaac on a Phi Mu Alpha camping trip. 

“He brought this tiny axe, and we spent the day gathering this giant piece of wood and then taking turns chopping it up,” Delgado said. “It was such a fun time because he brought us all together and helped create a bonding experience for the frat.”

Joe Reo, a senior music education major, recalls good times in the band room at the College during finals week of the fall 2019 semester. 

“The funniest memory I can recall may not seem like much but in that moment it was fantastic,” Reo said. 

“We were all stressed and to break the monotony, Isaac started stacking chairs by putting one upside down and then the other right side up on top of it. Soon we joined in and we had three towers of chairs going up the ceiling. We were laughing and goofing around like idiots but it was that pure joy that Isaac was able to bring to any atmosphere,” he continued. 

Ashton’s mathematics research group project was featured in the 2020 Celebration of Student Achievement. The project was titled “Inner Minkowski Dimension of Products of Fractal Strings.”

On stage at the last Concert Band performance, “Amazing Grace” by Frank Ticheli was performed. While no lyrics were sung by a voice, the main melody of the lyrics played through the hall. “Through many dangers, toils and snares/We have already come. ‘Twas grace has brought us safe thus far/And grace will lead us home.”

“Isaac was a special guy who cared about everyone.” said Jacob Ford, a friend and junior music education major. “(He) always looked for the good moments.”

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