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Deans ’78 , RIP

Stuart Deans ’78 died two weeks ago.

Stuart Deans swam as a boy, became an All-American swimmer in college and turned laps almost every day as an adult. As an official, he helped referee swim meets at the Family Y in Wilton and across the state. Last week, the 48-year-old Redding attorney, who specialized in environmental law, was back in the water in Hawaii.

As Deans finished his day with one last set of laps in a pool near the family’s hotel in Maui, he suffered heart failure and died in the water.

Younger Ephs should read the whole article to get a sense of what it means to live a well-rounded life.

Connie Deans [his wife], a Spanish teacher at John Read Middle School in Redding, produced one of her own memories — an e-mail sent by her husband to his office in Stamford on Earth Day last year.

“Stuart was in Naples, Florida, and he was out swimming in the Gulf with our two sons,” Connie Deans told one visitor. “It was their birthday. While they were out, they were joined by four adult and one young bottlenose dolphins.”

In his e-mail, Deans wrote: “They never got closer than about five feet but it was pretty cool.”

Deans, who said it was a reminder of the environment people needed to protect, signed off: “Try to find a couple of minutes today to watch the sunset or notice a bird that has returned from winter’s migration, or whatever other symbol of the interconnected nature of things you choose.

“Enjoy the day!”

Carpe diem is a recurring theme among Ephs of all ages. Connie Deans is class of 1979. My wife is also one class younger than I. We are just a ten years younger than Stuart and Connie. If I knew today that my number would come up in just a decade, would I spend my time any differently? Would you?

As family and friends gathered Thursday to share their memories of Stuart Deans, his daughter, Emily, expressed her own. She recalled when she had friends sleep over, they often awoke to find her father left them doughnuts for breakfast.

“We always looked up to our dad because he was something we all aspired to be,” she said. “I think a lot of our friends felt the same way because he was also a friend to them.”

Emily started at Williams yesterday as a member of the class of 2009. She and her mother will be on the same reunion cycle for decades to come, reunited every five years in a place that can’t but help to remind them of Stuart.

Life is often too bittersweet for words.

Condolences to all.