Grieving Wall

I write on behalf of my son-in-law Tayo Akinbiyi. There are many things for me to mourn here, but what strikes me most forcibly is how little time I had with him. He and my daughter Hilary were together for what now looks like only a brief interval--and much of that time was overshadowed by a pandemic whose reach and duration was all but unimaginable. We would have all seen each other much more frequently had there been no pandemic.
When someone dies as young as Tayo was, and as full of promise, it seems especially important to recall what was best about the person--to hold onto it and to celebrate it. I will always remember his smile; his playful use of nicknames; his physical grace. I recall one unpleasantly hot afternoon when he and I were loading up a moving van. The staircase was narrow; the loads were cumbersome; the air was too close. And he was such a cheerful presence beside me, taking on more than his half of the work, as we maneuvered bulky furniture into the back of a truck. It's appropriate, I suppose, that I settle on the image of a moving van--since he has moved on. May his smile continue to radiate our days.

-Brad Leithauser

Tayo Akinbiyi was my son-in-law. I mourn his loss while I celebrate his many accomplishments in his short life. He would have turned 39 years old today, December 15, 2021.

-Mary Jo Salter

Tayo was our beloved son and brother. He was the epitome of kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion and generosity. His academic prowess was a source of pride for him and us. We were in awe of his statistical abilities. He always felt it a privilege to have lived in Nigeria, where he was born, England, Canada and the US where he spent his last years.

Tayo had many passions which he pursued heartily. He was well known in the Hyde Park community in Chicago where he performed improvisational theatre both at the Revival and on the University of Chicago campus. He was a founding member of two improvisational theatre troupes in that city- The Hutchins Plan (2016), and The Excited State (2018). Unfortunately, this art form was also a casualty of Covid-19 and he was unable to sustain it after moving to New Haven, CT. He played amateur soccer throughout his adolescence and teens. Such was his love for the sport that he once travelled to London, England just to see his favorite team in action. Sadly, having torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) twice, he had to bow out of playing the game himself. Tayo also had a great love for music and enjoyed many happy hours playing his bass guitar. At the time of his passing, Tayo was pursing his interest in sound production and was developing a “Groovebox” for the production of live, looped-based electronic music.

In addition to his friends and colleagues, Tayo leaves behind his parents, Dr. Takintope and Norma Akinbiyi; his wife, Hilary Akinbiyi, née Leithauser; his brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Takintope Akinbiyi, Jr., and Dr. Rachel Hadler; his two nephews, Malcolm and Nathaniel; his extended family; and his beloved pets, Pi, Louie, and Humphrey.

-Tope Akinbiyi

This is a note of deep appreciation for the life and work of the Reverend John Vannorsdall the 4th Chaplain to serve Yale University. He was a man of abundant grace and authentic humility who touched many lives through his powerful preaching and gentle pastoral care. May God bless his family with the comfort of loving memories during this time of loss.

-Sharon Kugler

Reverend John Vannorsdall lifted me up when I was laid low by grief, and taught me to be community-minded when I was isolated by sorrow. I am forever grateful for Reverend Vannorsdall’s wisdom and generosity. Truly, to be in his presence was to know kindness and compassion are with us.

-Camille Thomasson

Rita Cropley was my mother in law. She was the nicest, most thoughtful and caring person I knew. I felt honored and loved by her and feel so very grateful I had her in my life.

Always in my heart and forever missed, Love your daughter in law, Donna