Tuesday, November 18, 1997

At Bookstaber service, a genius is remembered

By Kara Miller

YDN Staff Reporter

Yesterday, more than 50 students, faculty, and staff members gathered to remember the life of Saybrook College student Joseph Bookstaber '00.

Bookstaber, who attended Yale last year, was killed on Nov. 7 in an automobile accident while riding his bike in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

The memorial service was held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Trumbull Street.

Joseph Bookstaber had completed almost three months of his two-year Mormon mission when his life ended. He planned to double major in math and physics and pursue a Ph.D., friends said.

David Bookstaber '99 said his brother's freshman year at Yale was "the happiest year of his life."

During the memorial service, David Bookstaber spoke about his brother's uncanny intellect and dedication, showing maps of the United States and the Solar System that Joseph had drawn when he was eight and nine years old.

"These are the sorts of details that Joseph prided himself on," David Bookstaber said.

David Bookstaber also talked about his brother's proficiency on the piano.

"He had a strict musical regimen," David Bookstaber said. "He began practicing three hours a day six years ago. On some days, every free moment that he wasn't eating or sleeping he would spend on the piano."

Close friend David Cook '98 recalled how he spent his last day with Joseph Bookstaber in Utah before Bookstaber began his mission. He said they spent almost the entire day at the Mormon temple. Cook said Joseph Bookstaber was excited about the mission, and that he genuinely wanted to go and share his faith.

Joseph Bookstaber learned the Thai language in the less than 70 days he was in the country. Bookstaber impressed his missionary partner so much that his partner wrote in his journal, "it appears that Elder Bookstaber is quite a genius."

On his last day in Thailand, Joseph Bookstaber uncovered a piano in a local building and played for an audience of a few Thai workers and his missionary partner.

Cook also recalled his friend's piano playing.

"There was an ethereal grace that settled over Joseph when he played," he said.

Last Thursday, some friends of Bookstaber's attended his funeral in Short Hills, New Jersey.

"I was really glad I went on Thursday," Eden Kahle '00 said. "I learned a lot about Joe I didn't know before."

Kahle said Bookstaber was "modest and unassuming. He was really a fun person to be around."

Antonio Lasaga, Geology and Geophysics professor and Master of Saybrook College, where both Bookstabers were affiliated, said "we will sorely miss Joe and his wonderful place in his Yale class."

His parents, Richard and Pamela, were both present at yesterday's service.

Copyright 1997, The Yale Daily News