Pforzheimer House Student Emily Crockett Dies at 26

Courtesy of the Crockett Family

Pforzheimer House resident Emily K. Crockett swims with a dolphin at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys in May 2011. Crockett died on Sunday after a longtime struggle with cancer.

Pforzheimer House resident Emily K. Crockett will be remembered by friends and family for her love of music, mischievous humor, and unbelievable optimism.

Crockett died on Sunday night at the Rose Monahan Hospice Home in Worcester, Mass. after struggling with cancer for 20 years. She was 26.

Originally from Worcester, Crockett was diagnosed with cancer at age 6—what started as a malignant brain tumor would later leave her blind and physically handicapped. At the time, her family was told that she had six months to live.

But Crockett lived longer than six months, persevering through high school and eventually enrolling at Harvard with the Class of 2008.

Pforzheimer House quickly became her home, said her father, Walter H. Crockett. She became close with the House administration and befriended many of the dining hall staff.

But Crockett’s time at Harvard did not come easily, as her studies were frequently interrupted with recurring illnesses and diagnoses of more tumors.

“I’ve beaten it before; I’ll beat it again,” said Crockett, as Pforzheimer House Allston Burr Resident Dean Lisa Boes recalled.

“She just felt lucky that she had made it this far, and she was surrounded by people who cared about her,” said Gabriel A. Katsh ’04, who was once Crockett’s floor tutor. “She was really an example of someone who knew how to keep a positive attitude.”

Crockett and her parents, all musicians, shared a coping mechanism of viewing illness through a lens of humor. Before her mother died of cancer two years ago, the family decided that laughter was the best medicine.

The last sign that Crockett gave her father was a middle finger that she gradually pulled out from beneath her blanket while lying in her hospice bed on Saturday.

“You’re ugly today,” her father had said to her in their mutually-understood joking way, which prompted the appropriate reaction.

Nenita P. Elphick, a former Pforzheimer resident tutor, recalled that Crockett was a fan of practical jokes. On one occasion, Crockett ordered whoopie cushions to play pranks on the Pforzheimer dining hall staff, according to Elphick.

On Monday night, Pforzheimer resident Chelsea S. Link ’12 shared the “Best of Emily Crockett” emails with the House open list.

“I once tried to give my Pforzheimer Mail Center address over the phone,” Crockett had written, “and the woman I was talking to had virtually no trouble with the ‘pforzheimer’ aspect, but she thought I was trying to have my package shipped to a strip club called ‘Pforzheimer Male Center.’”

Crockett became involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation at a young age, and as a teenager she met her celebrity mentor, country singer Garth Brooks. Brooks continued to stay in touch with Crockett and even called her while she was in the hospice.