‘I always think of him now as sunshine’: Connor Tiffany ’24 remembered fondly by loved ones

The freshman from Virginia died in Boston on March 14 at the age of 19.

by Mike Hanrahan | 3/29/21 2:10am

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Source: Courtesy of Rachel Zhang ’24

Described by those closest to him as kind, compassionate, warm and motivated, Connor Tiffany ’24 brightened the lives of those around him and brought passion to his diverse interests in medicine, travel, aviation and art.

“I think that if I had to pick just one word to describe Connor, it would be selfless,” Rujuta Pandit ’24, one of Tiffany’s friends and classmates, said. “He was truly just a person who cared about everyone around him, who wanted to make everyone’s day and … make the world a better place.”

“Whenever he was in a room, I noticed because he was just so unbelievably warm,” Omala Snyder ’24, another friend and classmate, said. “I always think of him now as sunshine. He was just such a warm and friendly and kind human being.”

Tiffany, a freshman from Virginia, died in Boston on March 14 at the age of 19. The Dartmouth has not confirmed Tiffany’s cause of death at this time. He is survived by his parents, Ken Tiffany and Julie Trainer Tiffany, as well as his younger brother Parker Tiffany. 

Born in Norfolk and raised in Virginia Beach, Tiffany attended The Williams School until sixth grade. In seventh grade, he transferred to Norfolk Academy, where he stayed through high school and went on to captain the varsity crew and swim teams, in addition to serving as a Batten Leadership Program Global Health Fellow and as a member of the Honor Council. 

At the livestream of Tiffany’s funeral service in Virginia Beach Friday, Norfolk Academy headmaster Dennis Manning said Tiffany’s middle school teachers described him as a “shining star” with an “inquisitive mind,” and a student who was “always there to help without the need for recognition.” 

Tiffany’s high school classmates remember him not only as an exemplary student but as a kindhearted and outgoing friend to many. 

“He always congratulated people on college acceptances and celebrated individual wins,” Tiffany’s high school classmate JR Herman wrote in an emailed statement. “He was one of the most unselfish and caring people I ever met and probably will ever meet.”

From his freshman year of high school until he graduated last June, Tiffany worked with the San Antonio United Pentecostal School in Belize to develop a curriculum aimed at improving the quality of education for underprivileged students, Manning said. 

“[Connor] wasn’t a tourist in Belize,” Manning said. “From the moment he landed … he went house to house in [a] rural and impoverished village conducting a needs assessment and collecting data.” 

In addition to volunteering abroad, Tiffany pursued his interest in medicine by conducting research on neonatal ventilators, ultimately presenting his research paper on mechanical ventilation management at the 2019 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, an annual conference bringing together children’s health researchers and providers. At Dartmouth, Tiffany planned to study anthropology, global health and art history before following in his parents’ footsteps to attend medical school. His friends said that Tiffany’s goal was to eventually become a plastic surgeon. 

Tiffany also had a passion for aviation, writing in the Class of 2024 Facebook group before his freshman fall that he planned on working towards a private pilot’s license someday. 

Amid the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, Tiffany organized a fundraiser in partnership with BLM757 — a local wing of the advocacy organization — to fly an aerial banner over the city of Virginia Beach. He wrote that he hoped the banner would “spread a much-needed message to the city, calling attention to BLM’s demands.” 

During his time at Dartmouth, Tiffany had a meaningful impact on those around him. Pandit described Connor as “the kind of person who wanted to make you feel really good about yourself,” and a friend who was present even in difficult times. One of her fondest memories with Tiffany, she said, was last Halloween, when they “put on some terrible music and danced the night away to old Britney Spears.”

Jessica Li ’24 and Snyder  recalled theme nights where Tiffany and his friends assigned each other characters and held competitions to see who could stay in character the longest. 

“It was so ridiculous because it’s so childish, but we were all so into it,” Li said.

Eleanor Schifino ’24 and Jack Heaphy ’24, who lived in Boston with Tiffany this winter, remembered Tiffany’s eagerness to help and passion for art. 

“He was always so sweet and eager to help in any way he [could],” Schifino said, adding that he would start every morning by coming upstairs to help fix her fitted bed sheet that would always come off overnight.

Schifino also recalls Tiffany’s eagerness to help her prepare meals. She added that Tiffany had recently begun studying street art and graffiti more intensely, making stencils as a pastime and completing a computer science final project on Banksy, a globally renowned street artist. 

Heaphy said that some of his favorite memories were when Tiffany and Schifino would make him judge their computer science projects to determine which was better. 

“I’d be doing work in my room and I’d hear a soft little knock on my door, and they’d peek their heads in [to] show me a traffic light or a dot moving across the screen,” Heaphy said. “They thought it was like the coolest thing ever, and their excitement about it made me so happy.”

Tiffany’s funeral service was held at St. Gregory the Great Church in Virginia Beach and streamed online on Friday, with a private burial taking place the following day. According to Heaphy, some of Tiffany’s friends have also come together to plan an additional commemoration to be held sometime this spring. 

For students, counseling services are available at (603) 646-9442 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and at (603) 646-9440 outside of regular hours. Students can also reach out to the College chaplain to set up a confidential pastoral counseling session. The Student Wellness Center and Undergraduate Deans Office remain available resources for undergraduate students. 

Donations are currently being accepted for the Connor Tiffany Memorial Global Health Endowment Fund, designed to support resident physicians at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, who share Connor’s passions for medicine and global health. Gifts can be sent by mail to CHKD 601 Children’s Lane, Norfolk, VA 23507, by calling (757) 668-7070 or by visiting www.chkd.org and specifying “The Connor Tiffany Endowment Fund.”

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