Family, friends gather to remember senior’s humor and ‘giving’ personality

Media Credit: Sam Johnson | Hatchet Photographer
Julieta Machado, Carlos Pacanins’ mother, said her son was “full of energy from day one” at a Newman Center vigil on Tuesday.

Friends and family remembered 23-year-old Carlos Pacanins for his warm and welcoming personality Tuesday – sharing stories of his adventures with friends and passion for politics.

More than 100 family members, close friends and fraternity brothers in Tau Kappa Epsilon packed the Newman Center chapel to honor the senior, who died Sunday after being struck by a car on a four-lane road in College Park, Md. on Friday.

They crowded into the 2210 F St. townhouse for nearly two hours late Tuesday night, with some spilling over into two rooms that led into the chapel. Hands slapped on backs as friends and family hugged each other after the service, and small groups broke into laughter as they told stories about Pacanins.

Gonzalo Pacanins, his father who lives in Chevy Chase, Md., said he saw his son almost every day while he was in school. He described him as a “giving” person and said Carlos was always looking out for younger brothers in his fraternity who seemed shy or uncomfortable as they got used to being part of the group.

“He’d go out of his way to make him not shy or at least open up a little bit more. That was Carlos,” his father said. “I don’t know anyone who’s changed so many lives.”

Gonzalo Pacanins said since his son died, their family house has been full of his high school friends, who have shared stories about how Pacanins touched their lives.

“He had that skill of moving the crowds, of getting a smile out of you and telling you the right thing at the right time,” Gonzalo Pacanins said.

Carlos’ organs were donated to “help save more lives,” his father said. The family will hold a memorial service on Monday, April 21 at 10 a.m. at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, in Bethesda, Md.

Since Carlos Pacanins’ death, which marks the fourth undergraduate death of the semester, members of Greek organizations have made cards for his fraternity brothers, and the University has sent top administrators to his classes to remind students about available counseling services.

Gonzalo Pacanins Jr., Carlos’ 18-year-old brother, said every time he saw his older brother, Carlos would ask him when he was going to join a fraternity.

“He’d say it was a brotherhood – these guys will be important to you for the rest of your life. I really want to thank you for being my brother’s brothers,” he said.

Pacanins, who was about to graduate with a degree in political science, was an active member of TKE, mentoring younger members and looking to help his friends with their school work, personal problems or by offering an invitation to his house for Thanksgiving dinner to share his family’s homemade stuffing.

“I’ve realized this guy had a tremendous impact on an innumerable amount of people and I’m really sorry he had to go so early,” his fraternity brother Danny Won said. “I don’t think we’ll get to meet someone like that for a very long time.”

Won said Pacanins once called him at 9 a.m. after a party, offering to help Won clean up.

“People would just come over and trash your place. They wouldn’t even think twice. He was Carlos, ready to help me out on a Saturday morning,” Won said.

For almost two hours after the service, friends and brothers in TKE told stories of spring break trips to Panama City, FL., and remembered Carlos’ enthusiastic personality as he cracked jokes, shared silly nicknames with his friends and captivated rooms full of people with his stories.

“He’s one of those guys that if you only meet him once, you’ll never forget him,” said his former roommate Brendan Dorsey. “He always made everyone laugh, and there was never a dull moment around him.”

He was also passionate and driven, his friends said, remembering his firm handshake and dreams of working on Wall Street and making a six-figure salary by the time he would turn 30.

Julieta Machado, Carlos’ mother, said he was “full of energy from day one.” She thanked the fraternity members for the way they helped her son find his place at GW.

“I want to thank all of you for loving my son so much. I am very grateful,” she said. “He will be watching and taking care of us.”

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