For some, he was the first person they met at TCU. For many others, he was a source of support and love.
For everyone, Clay Louis Alexander York was the epitome of what it meant to be a TCU student.
Mr. York, Class of 2013, double majored in modern dance and ballet. He died Dec. 22 at the age of 21.
He was pronounced dead at 11:30 p.m. A New York Police Department spokeswoman said Mr. York was found at an address in the 500 block of West 169th Street, which is located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan.
She said officials are waiting for further tests before declaring an official cause of death.
Mr. York was a resident assistant, and was named Mr. TCU his senior year. He minored in journalism, and had worked for TCU 360. He was also an honors student who graduated magna cum laude.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. York moved to New York City after graduation where he had a fellowship with the Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company.
“I think his end-goal was always just to be surrounded by fellow dancers,” said Kendall Aragon, junior marketing major and friend of Mr. York.
“I knew Clay was going to succeed, I wasn’t really worried about him.”
On his LinkedIn page, Mr. York stated that he was “very passionate about serving others” and hoped to become a lawyer following a career in dance.
Mr. York was not only an excellent dancer, Aragon said, but a strong, dependable partner.
“He was always that partner, that took you in life and took you by the hand,” she said.
Mr. York touched everybody in the TCU community that he met, from students to faculty to the chancellor.
“I loved it when [Clay] would be sitting or hanging out on the back steps of Lowe Hall (the dance building) – as he did all the time – because I’d always be walking by on way to my car or into my office after lunch and he’d generally yell out at me, run over like he hadn’t seen me in years and give a big hug,” Chancellor Victor Boschini wrote in an email. “Always made my day.”
Students shared memories on social media, creating the Facebook page “Best Memories of Clay York” hours after his father announced Mr. York’s death via a Facebook post.
Mr. York was remembered as someone who could always be counted on for support and a hug. Others reflected on ways to honor his memory by continuing to help others as he helped so many students.
Aragon made a tribute video in honor of Mr. York.
“It’s crazy how one person can impact so many people, and I think that’s why I’m so proud that I got to know him,” Aragon said.
All the social media posts showed that, even in death, Mr. York continued to impact others, she said. He made people think about the power of one person and how they could make a difference in so many different people’s lives.
Til York, Mr. York’s sister, said in a statement that he was her “absolute best friend.”
“I was blessed to have not only the greatest person I know for a brother but for a friend,” she said. “Clay would laugh with me, cry with me, give me a bear hug that would crack my back.”
Service details for Mr. York would be announced once they were confirmed, Til York said. At this time, arrangements were still under development.