College alumnus Alexander Wilks Bethurem (A.B. ’07) committed suicide December 15 in his Chicago home. He was 22 years old.
A long-time employee at Hallowed Grounds, a manager at the Starbucks on East 53rd Street, and a tireless concert-goer, Bethurem was a highly visible presence on campus.
Close friend and fellow Hallowed Grounds employee, third-year Bailey Scott, described one memorable stunt of Bethurem’s in which he “climbed the scaffolding of the Reynolds Club in a Santa suit the day he graduated” to peer into windows and wave at customers.
Scott highlighted Bethurem’s love of road trips, bad movies, and above all, the centrality of friends and friendship in his life. He also noted Bethurem’s distinctive owl tattoos, as well as his accompanying collection of owl figurines and love of owl imagery.
“It started with him getting a picture frame with owls on it on a road trip,” Scott said. “By the time Alex and I became friends, he had maybe five owl figurines in his room. Then he got the tattoos, two on his back, both of which he named.”
Scott described Bethurem’s love of owls as a fitting and descriptive symbol of his personality.
“I always thought it was appropriate,” he said. “He was the sweetest and most tender person ever, but loved how the owls were kind of ferocious and metal.”
A memorial service was held at Bond Chapel on January 26. Friends and Bethuren’s family from his hometown of Springfield, MO, spoke about their memories of Bethurem.
In addition to his University friends and loved ones, Bethurem is survived by his parents, Jerald and Cathy; his grandparents, Donald and Viola Stewart and Dorothy Bethurem; his brother, Jerald Jr.; his brother and sister-in-law, Doug and Sandra; and his sister and brother-in-law, Sheryl and Bert Asher.