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Friends celebrate energetic senior's generosity, beauty

When Una Kim '00 remembers Mary McConville '00, her roommate of four years, she recalls a "beautiful, extremely caring and giving person" who always had plenty of Echinacea on-hand to distribute when one of her friends had a cold.

Last night, Kim and other friends gathered to share memories of McConville, who died early New Year's Day in Paris. They described her as a person whose formal activities were numerous and selfless, and whose time and attention devoted to her friends made her truly special to them.

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"She was a little ball of energy, a little angel," friend Tim Howe '00 recalled. "She had these revelations you could see in her eyes."

One of McConville's various interests at Princeton was languages. A Romance languages major, she spent last spring in Paris, where, according to friend and former roommate Lily Anthony-Brown '00, she "found things that she really loved and excited her and made her very happy."

"She really loved Paris and had a deep appreciation for art," Kim said. "She was very cultured. She was just extremely classy, in a cool, hip way. She was very European in that way."

Perspective

Many of McConville's friends agreed that her time in Paris changed her view of Princeton.

"Mary had this otherworldliness about her. She was American, but wasn't. She was from California, but wasn't," said Nicholas Matfus '00, who has known McConville since the beginning of their freshman year. "Getting Mary to say she was American was like pulling teeth."

During a summer high school program in Paris, McConville met her future boyfriend Brian Garvey, now a senior at the University of Pennsylvania and someone with whom she was very close, friends said.

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"It wasn't like a fairy tale, but the best thing about it was they kept growing with each other," Kim said, explaining that after more than four years of dating, they were different people than when they had first met. "They pushed each other to be better people and really challenged each other."

McConville's relationship with her parents was also an important part of her life.

"We were the best of friends," said Judith Miller, McConville's mother. Though they lived on different coasts, her mother said they remained close spiritually.

"I can tell you that if Mary was sick, I knew and I would call," Miller said. "There was an inner sense there that I always knew with Mary."

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According to Kim, McConville was also very close to her father, who lives in Ireland. "She was always daddy's little girl. They were really close since day one."

Another friend added, "He lived for her, and she lived for him."

Deep connections

At the heart of McConville's character was her ability to make connections with so many people and to help them discover qualities about themselves, according to friends.

"She really made me feel flattered that she wanted me in her life, that I could add something to it and she showed me that I was important to her, and I really felt honored," Jeremy Fischbach '00 said.

"People might think of her as a person out to change the world. I don't think that's what she was after," Matfus added. "She was really going to enjoy life through relationships and not with actions."

McConville preferred writing letters to emails, her friends said. She searched to "really find little treasures and shared them with others," Matfus said.

"As far as I can remember, she never wrote a paper more than a few hours before it was due – and she never got anything less than an A, " Fischbach said, explaining that McConville devoted much of her time to other people.

"She wasn't the photographer. She wasn't the literature major," roommate Sarah Garcia '00 recalled, naming a few of McConville's hobbies. "She was just my friend who crawled into bed with me and scratched my head. She was the girl who sat in my lap and said, 'Pet me.' "

"I think everyone would agree that the one word that described her was 'beautiful,' " Garcia said. "She was beautiful in every sense of the word."

Fischbach added, "She was beautiful to me – beautifully honest, beautifully stubborn, beautifully loyal. Just beautiful."

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