Cancer Takes Life of Harvard Pianist
Family and friends remember him as someone who lived life fully, despite being diagnosed with cancer at age 17.
Fuchs, who studied German in high school and in his first year at Harvard, spent a summer playing jazz piano in Berlin before his sophomore year.
Although he found the jazz scene difficult to break into, he was eventually able to perform frequently as part of Lunar, an acid jazz group he formed with other musicians he met there.
“Their sound did cater to a hip crowd. They played in small bars and clubs, but the bars were always full,” said his wife of four months, Nina E. Fuchs, whom he met while in Berlin.
Fuchs lived off-campus in Watertown after returning to the U.S., maintaining a long distance relationship with his future wife, who had been posted to Washington, D.C. by the German foreign service. They tried to see each other every week, she said.
“They maintained a relationship supporting the telecommunications and airline companies,” joked Fuchs’ father, Peter H. Fuchs.
Fuchs had to take time off from Harvard after his sophomore year, because of a recurrence of the melanoma that had not manifested itself since its first appearance when he was 17.
He returned to Harvard last spring at the end of the cancer treatment cycle, taking a lighter course load while still receiving radiation treatment. He had living in Peabody Terrace with his wife, whom he married on March 30.
Fuchs had begun taking the course “The Rome of Augustus” at the Harvard Summer School in June, but found it increasingly difficult to keep up, as his illness worsened towards the end of the summer.
Friends knew that Fuchs had to get check-ups twice a year in New York to make sure his cancer was not recurring.
But they said the former swimmer and water-polo player stayed in peak athletic condition in college despite his sickness.
“He was fit. He had been a star swimmer in high school, and he kept in shape basically out of habit,” said his Dunster blockmate, R. Aram Marks ‘02-‘04, with whom he used to run along the Charles River.
Marks said he and Fuchs were drawn together very early freshman year by a common interest in jazz and by similarly outrageous hairstyles.
“We both had strange hair,” he said. “I had long dreadlocks, and his were puffy.”
By accident, the two improvised on a jazz tune on the piano together for the first year talent show.
“We walked into a lounge with pianos, and started jamming together,” Marks said. “And we didn’t know it, but the talent show people were right next door. They said, ‘You need to play together for the show.’ So we did.”
According to Marks, Fuchs was the “mellow” type who eschewed the partying scene, but often spent time with friends drinking espresso at Café Pamplona on Bow Street.
“The best time a lot of people spent with him was one on one,” Marks said.
—Staff writer Eugenia B. Schraa can be reached at email@example.com.