A Letter from Tad's Brother
Brothers Just Know These Things About Each Other
Who is Tad DuPriest and why is there a foundation in his name? The answer to “Who is Tad” is quite complex, so let me begin with how we started a foundation in Tad’s honor. Before I continue though, you may be wondering why I said “Who IS Tad” rather than “Who WAS Tad”? Is Tad still alive you ask? Well, yes and no. Unfortunately, Tad departed the physical world on July 20th, 1992; however, his spirit very much lives and breathes in many of us today. I will elaborate in a minute. Let me get back to the origin of the foundation. Several years ago I was with my wife Melanie and six year old daughter Sydney at St. Catherine’s Daisy Days, when a strangely familiar woman approached me. She reintroduced herself to me as Bentley Keso, a best friend of Tad’s in high school. After telling each other about our families, Bentley wasted no time in relaying to me how much she still missed and loved Tad. She went on to say that a real passion had been tugging at her heart to start a foundation in Tad’s name in order to raise money for a children’s charity. I was so moved, as I always am whenever I run into Tad’s friends (they are my best friends now too) who talk to me as if Tad was physically still alive. She said that she had spoken to a few other friends of Tad’s and that they were fully behind starting the foundation. Without further hesitation, I committed myself to helping start a foundation that would raise as much money as possible for a worthy cause.
Who is Tad?” Tad was born on May 9th, 1973. He and I grew up in Ashland, VA with our parents Rob and Barclay. We both attended Hanover Academy from Kindergarten through Seventh Grade. After that, we had the privilege of attending St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, VA from Eighth to Twelfth Grade. As I was three years older than Tad, I finished my four years at Hampden-Sydney College in 1992 as Tad was finishing up his freshman year at Randolph-Macon College. That summer was high with expectations, as it had been planned that the DuPriest family would take Cancun by storm at the end of July. I was especially excited about the trip, because it was going to be the first time in so many years that Tad and I would just have each other to buddy around with. Most of you know what happened next, but for those who don’t, here’s the bad part. It was July 20th, 1992, and Tad and I were working at St. Christopher’s Summer Experience Camp. Tad was driving a van load of campers back from putt-putt. He was coming down River Road when the van edged off the shoulder and flipped several times. Luckily no children were killed in the accident, but Tad was not as fortunate. He was buried at age nineteen. I was twenty-two.
I do not think we often recognize or appreciate true beauty until it is gone, or at least appears to be gone. Now don’t get me wrong in assuming I am saying Tad represented true beauty. If you knew him like I did, you definitely knew there were many characteristics of him that did not come remotely close to true beauty. In fact, many were just the opposite. However, when Tad DuPriest was on his “game,” I always felt like I was witnessing something special, something resembling “true beauty.” Tad was graced with outstanding athletic ability and excelled much faster than the other Ashland kids his age. I always liked to relate his rapid athletic development to the fact that I allowed him to play sports with me and the older boys in the neighborhood, but this argument quickly went by the wayside as his athletic accomplishments kept piling up at a tremendous speed. Now I must mention that one advantage (or disadvantage) Tad did have growing up was his weight. He definitely was a little larger than your normal kid. In fact, the only real way I could get back at him if he ever made me mad was to hold up his old baseball team photo (all the kids were seven years old in the photo) and say, “Hey, who is that assistant coach standing on the end next to all the little kids?” This would immediately lead to rapid tears from Tad followed by a swift beating on me. In high school and for one year in college, Tad grew more and more into his body and became a real force to be reckoned with on the football and baseball fields and earned several honors in each. He actually was a hell of a basketball player too. I distinctly remember one particular time in which he was on the court and I was in the stands, and we made eye contact for several seconds. He was looking for advice from me. I gave it, and without a second’s thought, he executed it to perfection. As he ran back down the court, we made eye contact again and just smiled. This was definitely one of my many beautiful Tad moments. While Tad was more times than not on his “game” athletically, it was really Tad’s quick wit and humor with his friends that also defined him as being on his “game.”
If St. Christopher’s High School teaches us anything, it teaches us that sarcastic humor is alive and well with the boys in attendance, as well as those who graduated. And, no one could dish it out better and funnier than Tad. Always quick to jokingly throw a verbal knife at someone, Tad was always the first to apologize if he thought he may have truly offended that person. As it mostly turned out though, everyone just loved being with Tad. What most people didn’t know though is that Tad really loved being with them even more. Tad was as loyal to his friends and teammates as anyone I have ever known. He had a bond with his high school and fraternity brothers that most people dream of having. His true love of what was right on this earth far outweighed any of his shortcomings. As much as I admired Tad for being the boisterous and funny guy, I also greatly admired and loved Tad for having the confidence to openly cry about things that mattered to him. And I can assure you, family and friends mattered to him the most.
I would be amiss in this description of “Who is Tad” to not mention that the death of Brad Parrish did play a major role in shaping Tad as a person. Almost two years to the day before Tad was killed, one of Tad’s dearest high school friends, Brad Parrish, was killed in a car accident. The entire St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s community was devastated but no one took it any harder than Tad. Tad and Brad had previously decided that after high school they were going to attend Hampden-Sydney College and be roommates. While Tad finally came to grips with Brad’s passing, the idea of attending HSC without Brad suddenly didn’t sound as inviting. Still holding on to everyday memories of his good friend Brad, Tad decided to go in a new direction and attend Randolph-Macon College. Things have never been the same.
At first I was a little disappointed that Tad wouldn’t be a freshman at HSC while I was a senior; however, it didn’t take me long to realize that Tad had found his perfect home at Randolph-Macon. Tad was killed the summer after his one year at Macon, but what a glorious and wonderful year he had! I knew that Tad had left his mark on his college friends and that they had done the same on him, when after his death, I was basically made an honorary member of Tad’s fraternity by the brothers of Kappa Alpha. I had previously met a few of Tad’s good friends before his death, but I had never experienced the outpouring of love and acceptance by so many complete strangers as I did by Tad’s fraternity brothers. It is hard to believe that it has been almost 24 years since Tad was killed, and I say ‘killed” only as it relates to Tad in a physical way. As I work with my friends (Tad’s friends) to make this foundation a reality, to provide ASK with extra funds to help children with cancer, and to keep Tad’s “true beauty” always glowing around us, I have never felt Tad alive in me any more than right now. Tad loves children and you better believe he was the one fueling Bentley’s fire to get this foundation under way. Tad loves his friends and family and rejoices every time we all get together. Tad loves sports and the thrill of competition. Tad loves laughter and encourages it as much as possible. And most importantly, Tad loves God and desires us to do goodwill whenever we can. Tad and I both want to personally thank every one of you who participates in this foundation to raise money for such a worthy cause. My “thank you” may seem a little more obvious, as I will come right out and say the words to you, or say it with a hug, or a handshake, but just take a moment and give Tad a chance, and I promise he will, in his own special way, thank you too. I know this, because Tad is still my hero, still my best friend, and, most of all, still my brother, and well, brothers just know these things about each other.
PS – I must give a big thanks to my mom and dad, Rob and Barclay DuPriest. They are the best parents Tad and I could ever have. Tad and I love you so very much!