Alex Levy, who attended Kenyon from fall 2016 through fall 2018, died on Monday, Aug. 3 while residing with his aunt in northern California. Though Levy had struggled with probable schizophrenia for several years, it came as a shock to loved ones when he took his own life.
Levy spent the earlier part of his childhood in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, before moving with his family to the greater Philadelphia area at the age of 13. Because of his social nature, he made many friends while attending Lower Merion High School and Camp Galil, a Jewish summer camp in Philadelphia.
“He had the ability of making you feel like you were the most special person,” his mother, Sonia Levy, said. “He was sincerely interested in you when he talked to you, and wanted to hear about you before he talked about himself.”
During his time at Kenyon, Levy was an anthropology student with particular interests in human evolution and sustainable farming. He was an active member of Serf, Kenyon’s men’s frisbee team and Hillel. He also served as president of the Archon Society from spring 2018 through fall 2018.
“[Alex] started out every [Archons] meeting in a unique way, whether that was introducing a new pledge, doing a headstand, or saying words backwards,” said Alli Beard ’20, who served as an Archons officer with Levy. “His passion and commitment to service was truly admirable, and he made sure every member in our organization felt accepted and included.”
Levy withdrew from Kenyon halfway through his junior year to pursue sustainable farming in French Guiana, a dream which he accomplished for the three months prior to the pandemic.
Lucas Kreuzer ’20 attended both high school and college with Levy. “I will always remember Alex for his large and caring heart for all living things,” Kreuzer said. “Many of us are kinder, more accepting and gentler people as a result of knowing him.”
Levy’s passion for life translated beyond his relationships with peers and into the classroom. “Alex was one of those rare students with a genuine thirst for knowledge [and] saw connections in seemingly disparate ideas,” said Professor of Anthropology Bruce Hardy, who taught Levy in several classes. “Talking passionately about alternative farming methods with such conviction in his voice that you knew he was going to change the world — that was Alex.”
Students and recent alumni will remember Levy for his outgoing and goofy personality and his energetic dance moves, which he brought to Archon parties, the Horn Gallery and unexpected daytime settings.
Isaiah Stavchansky ’18, who knew Alex from Serf, organized a fundraiser last week to purchase and plant a tree at the Brown Family Environmental Center in his honor. Initially, he had raised funds from fellow Serfs to provide a meal for the Levy family, a custom in Jewish mourning rituals. Levy’s mother, however, told Stavchansky that they had already received an over-abundance of food and suggested that they use the money for a tree at Kenyon instead.
Stavchansky said, “Alex once told some Serf friends that if he passed away he wanted his funeral to be a dance party. Unfortunately, we can’t have the all-campus Old Kenyon bash in his memory at this moment. Given the circumstances, we’re hoping this is a close second.”
Stavchansky plans to plant the tree some time next month and is grateful that members of the Kenyon community who knew Alex now have a way to commemorate him.
“The generosity of 70-plus folk really made this all possible,” Stavchansky said. “It only goes to show all the people Alex befriended at Kenyon.”
Levy was buried in the Nature Sanctuary section of West Laurel Hill Cemetery near his home outside of Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 7. A four-part memorial service was held the following week. Members of the Kenyon community and beyond will continue to remember the impact he left over the years.
“His time was all too brief,” Hardy said, “but he brought light and joy to many lives.”
In addition to his mother, Levy is survived by his father Dan Levy, brother Nicolas Levy and twin sister Dakota Levy.