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.
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