Otavio Fleury ’12 died Sept. 21 in a motorcycle accident in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He was 24.
Fleury was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and moved to Oswego, Ill., when he was in the sixth grade. He studied civil and environmental engineering during his time at the University and played on the football team. After graduation, he had been working in Vietnam for Tractus Asia as a business consultant.
Head coach of the football team Bob Surace ’90 said that Fleury was a crucial player: He was not only an exceptional punter, kicker and holder, he said, but also one of the best representatives of the team.
“The best representatives are usually by the fences,” Surace explained, saying that Fleury was perfect for the job. “Whenever a visitor, somebody from the media or alumni come by, they’re the ones to welcome them. He had a great personality and great sense of humor, always welcoming.”
When asked about other aspects of Fleury’s personality, Surace said he could easily imagine Fleury sitting in a dining hall with anybody, starting a conversation and making friends.
“We didn’t win a lot of games when I first got here,” he added, “but he always made [his teammates] laugh and put things in perspective, so we could move forward and work harder.”
At the end of the 2010 season, Fleury was ranked third among Ivy League punters, according to GoPrincetonTigers.com.
Brendan Sofen ’15, a member of the football team, said Fleury was passionate about helping others.
“When I was a freshman, just coming in, I was struggling with my kickoffs,” Sofen said. “He stayed after practice for a week straight and critiqued my form. He truly wanted me to succeed, so I could help the team.”
Sofen added that Fleury not only showed him how to thrive in football and academics, but also pushed him to go above and beyond and do his best.
Victor Prato ’15, also on the football team, described Fleury as a mentor who made an extremely positive impact during his first year at the University.
“I remember specifically as a freshman, I was an engineer and he was an engineer, and I was having trouble,” Prato said. “Every time I spoke with him, it made me feel better about what I was doing.”
Fleury was particularly interested in energy and conservation, and loved to travel, Sofen said.
Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sigrid Adriaenssens said that some of her conversations with Fleury stand out the most among the hundreds of conversations she has had with her students over the years.
“He was energetic and very action-oriented,” Adriaenssens said. “Then he explained to me the whole methodology behind [his positive energy]. He said that when you’re little, you should do an individual sport and learn focus, discipline and bravery. Once you’ve mastered that, you should move on to a group sport and learn about teamwork, integrity, leadership and compassion.”
What struck her the most about this conversation, she said, was that someone so young had insight as to why he did certain things.
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Mark Zondlo, Fleury’s senior thesis advisor, pointed to Fleury’s commitment to service as his biggest asset.
Fleury’s senior thesis was a representation of his compassion, Zondlo explained. He wanted to develop an inexpensive, sustainable recreational center for disadvantaged students in Brazil in hopes of helping them turn away from a life of crime, and energizing them toward a better life and future for themselves.
“He wanted to help others,” Zondlo explained. “He had the skill. He was articulate. He had the confidence. He believed in it. There was no mountain in front of him he couldn’t attack. He left a great impression on this department in terms of service to others.”
Zondlo, also mentioned Fleury’s entry into a national competition on sustainable design, which took place two days before Fleury graduated.
His family could not be reached for comment.
Fleury’s funeral mass is scheduled to take place on Oct. 2 at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Parish in Washington, Ill. Visitation will be on Oct. 1 from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. at Dieterle Memorial Home in Montgomery, Ill.