Ask anyone who knew John Thumel, and they’d tell you he always had a smile on his face. The rising fifth-year senior often went out of his way to make others happy, and was always the first to initiate a conversation with strangers.
Friends remember the chemical engineering major from Libertyville, IL, as an optimistic, energetic person who put as much effort into his academics as he put into his social life. Soon after learning of his passing, several friends changed their profile pictures to photos of Thumel and themselves to reflect the presence he had in their lives.
A summer intern at at The Dow Chemical Company in Texas, Thumel was involved in a car accident early Friday, July 24 and passed away in hospital two days later. His mother told The Daily Northwestern that he was surrounded by family at the time.
“You gave me a family and offered my heart a home in a scary new college environment, and acted as one of the truest friends I have ever known,” wrote recent McCormick graduate Claire McCloskey in a note she shared with NBN.
McCloskey and Thumel lived in the same Elder hallway their freshman year and took several engineering classes together. The two met on the first day of Elder LEAD, a discontinued pre-Wildcat Welcome leadership program, and built their friendship on a shared love for Chipotle, Marvel and Mean Girls.
“You have been the most steadfast, true, and dependable friend to us all,” she wrote. “There are very few people as brilliant, kind, dedicated, loyal, and genuinely good.”
Thumel’s classmates and companions will remember him as someone who constantly looked for ways to help and encourage those around him.
“Its going to be incredibly tough not having him in our lives,” said Drew D’Alelio, a rising Weinberg senior and a member of Thumel’s fraternity. “Sigma Chi was better because of him.”
Thumel’s wake took place Friday, July 31 at the McMurrough Funeral Chapel in Libertyville, IL, and his funeral was held the following day at the same location.