Video vignettes from the Colas’ memorial service are available here.
Thank you to News Channel 5 in Nashville for providing this footage.
Click on any of the images below to see a high-resolution version. Photos by Steve Green, Vanderbilt University.
Colleagues, family members and former students remembered Pierre Colas’ love for good chocolate, a competitive game of Stratego and the frequent company of friends during a memorial service at Benton Chapel. His sister Marie Colas, killed by assailants with Pierre during a robbery at his home, was also mourned.
The memorial service Oct. 29 was held at Benton Chapel. Gay Welch, director of religious life, officiated.
“We gather to grieve an unspeakable loss,” Welch said. “We will not let the fire of their spirits go out.”
Pierre Colas, 32, assistant professor of anthropology, died Aug. 26 of injuries sustained in the robbery that day. Marie Colas, 26, died on Aug. 31 from injuries from the same attack. Four suspects have been arrested and are awaiting trial.
Colleagues, students and family members who traveled from Europe to attend spoke about the energy and vibrancy of Pierre and Marie Colas. Graduate student Mike Tidwell remembered the graceful way Pierre Colas constantly defeated him at Stratego and chess. Another student admitted taking courses she didn’t need and couldn’t easily schedule because Pierre Colas was the instructor.
Hans Colas, father of Pierre and Marie Colas, spoke of Marie’s drive to keep up with both her brothers as a child and her insistence on being “always full of plans for her own life and those around her.”
Former students of Pierre Colas who could not attend sent letters of remembrance which were read by other students.
Pierre Colas was already a noted scholar early in his career, said Tom Dillehay, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, who hired Pierre Colas three years ago.
“His contribution … to archeology will continue to challenge us,” he said.
Pierre Colas was an expert on Maya epigraphy. His work focused on the effects of Pentecostal theologies and local community norms in a Yucatec Maya town in Belize. Two books in progress at the time of his death are expected to be finished and published.
Collegues remembered his small office in Garland Hall as the social hub of his department, where people would gather for afternoon talks over espresso and M&M’s.
“Pierre was fun, too, a serious scholar but fun to be with,” Dillehay said.
Hans Colas recalled that both Pierre and Marie were happy with their lives last summer before the robbery.
“Remembering (Pierre) and Marie is the only way to keep them alive in our hearts,” he said.
Video of the memorial service for Pierre today at Vanderbilt University’s Benton Chapel at 4 p.m. CT will be streamed live from the Vanderbilt Web site, www.vanderbilt.edu/news. A link to an archived copy of the video, as well as photos, will be posted here tomorrow.
In memory of Pierre and his sister Marie, Anthropology students, colleagues and the Colas family gathered last weekend to make OFRENDAS, whimsical decorated boxes in the spirit of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). These ofrendas will be present at the reception in Tillett Lounge (following the memorial service) where, as in Latin American tradition, food, drink, and music will honor those we have lost in gratitude and celebration of the gifts their lives brought into the world.
The memorial service planned for Pierre Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. has been moved to Benton Chapel, located on the Vanderbilt University campus. All are welcome.
From Gay Welch, Director of Religious Life at Vanderbilt University:
A memorial service for Pierre Colas, Vanderbilt anthropologist who died
earlier in the semester, will be held on October 29 at 4pm in the All Faith
chapel. Members of Professor Colas’s family will be present.
To read a tribute to Pierre Colas’s life at
Pierre’s colleague Frauke Sachse has posted a moving biography of Pierre and tribute to him, including photos, at:
An update on the investigation of Pierre and Marie’s murders and the four suspects in custody is in the The Tennessean today. Read it here.