Whether College of Engineering freshman Tony Barksdale II was making friends on the basketball court or working toward achieving his pilot’s license, he always smiled, said School of Management freshman Jacob Rettig.
“Whether you knew him [at all] or whether you’ve known him forever, he was a very extroverted human being and he was always warm and friendly,” Rettig said. “Every memory I have with him is always a happy memory.”
Barksdale died early Saturday morning at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton. Boston Police Department officers are investigating the circumstances of the death.
Rettig said he attended school in New Hampshire with Barksdale from when they began eighth grade to when they graduated high school, and the two came to Boston University together.
“To put it simply, Tony was probably one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known,” Rettig said. “He was there to help someone who was in need … He was just really an exemplary human being.”
Barksdale was always upbeat, and was involved in a variety of activities, ranging from athletics to academics, Rettig said.
“His personality type allowed him to hang out with a multitude of people,” Rettig said. “He was not your typical introverted engineering student.”
Rettig said Barksdale was interested in acquiring his pilot’s license.
“He was very fascinated with aeronautical engineering,” Rettig said. “He had a huge fascination with planes and how they flew and worked. He wanted to get his pilot’s license.”
BU President Robert Brown said in an email to students that Barksdale’s death is a tragedy.
“The thoughts and prayers of all of us go out to the family and friends who are experiencing this heartbreaking loss,” Brown said in his email. “… When we learn more about the wishes of the family we will communicate about memorial events.”
Barksdale was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. Sigma Alpha Mu members declined to comments at this time.
Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said the entire BU community is saddened by the loss.
“It’s always tragic when we lose someone that we know and that we consider part of our family or our group, particularly when they’re young,” he said in an interview. “I hope I can speak for all of us at the university — and certainly for the students at the university — when I say we wish his family real peace. We want to make sure they know this affects us all.”
Elmore said students are encouraged to seek grief counseling during this difficult time.
“We always have services available for people, be it religious, counseling or just having someone to talk to,” he said. “… It’s helpful just to check in with someone and make sure you’re going to be all right.”
Counselors are available for students through Marsh Chapel and Student Health Services, Elmore said. Residence Life officials are also available to offer support for students.
SMG sophomore Ben Kvisler said while he did not know Barksdale for an extended period of time, he always enjoyed their time together.
“People around him would always be having a good time because he had a pleasant personality,” Kvisler said in an email. “After his passing, I would want people to celebrate the life he lived and remember his friendly and warm personality.”
Chris Lisinski contributed to the reporting of this article.