Service-Oriented Harvard Grad Succumbs to Cancer

Navin Narayan, an Adams House resident who received his A.B summa cum laude in Social Studies this month, died Monday of cancer.

He was 23.

Narayan was a Rhodes scholar and had hoped to be a doctor. He worked throughout high school and college with the American Red Cross, becoming in 1998 the organization's youngest national committee chair ever.

But Narayan is remembered by those close to him less for his accomplishments than for his gentle way with people.

"He was easily the most humble and unassuming person I have ever met," said Otto Coontz, the assistant to the Adams House senior tutor. "Wherever he was and whoever he was with, he was in that moment."


Coontz said Narayan placed a premium on spending time with friends, although he was often very busy.

"He went out of his way to just sort of touch base with everyone in his life," Coontz said.

Narayan's life's work was in the field of international health. Having volunteered with his local chapter of the Red Cross since eighth grade, Narayan was asked to speak before the national organization when he was 17.

Just months before, he had been diagnosed with facial cancer.

When the disease went into remission, Narayan increased his participation in the Red Cross, a process that culminated with his appointment to the Red Cross National Committee on Resolutions, where he directly advised then Red Cross President Elizabeth H. Dole.

Recently, Narayan spent time in India where his grandparents live, collecting data on the adverse health effects of child labor for the

advocacy group Physicians For Human Rights.

According to former Adams House Master Robert J. Kiely '60, when a relapse of his cancer forced Narayan to take a term off last spring, Narayan confronted the possibility of death with serenity.

"He didn't seem frightened. He didn't seem angry," Kiely said. "[Narayan] was someone who had incredible maturity. He had a tremendous inner strength and peace about him."

Friends said Narayan's memory would continue to inspire them.

Recommended Articles