The memory of former junior and Miami University band member Clifton Alexander will carry on for the members of Miami’s Sigma Nu chapter as they grapple with the death of their fraternity brother.
“Clif was just a great person, a loving friend and signified exactly what you would want your fraternity brother to be like,” said junior Joseph Smeltz, president of Sigma Nu. “You couldn’t have asked for a better person to have known than Clif Alexander.”
According to the police report, Clif was found dead in his room at the Sigma Nu fraternity house Monday night after his brothers noticed he was not present for the fraternity’s elections. Members stated it was unlike Clif to miss the fraternity meeting, specifically because he had intentions of running for chapter president.
“We were concerned where he was and we just began looking into the matter,” Smeltz said.
When Oxford police arrived on scene, they found several prescription medications for what members of the fraternity said aided Clif with migraines.
The police report states that Clif was last seen around 2:30 a.m. Monday morning in the fraternity’s kitchen, however he had been suffering from flu-like symptoms and as a result returned to his room.
That same morning, Clif’s alarm rang to awake him for his 10 a.m. class. However, the police report states the alarm rang for most of the morning.
The cause of death is currently unknown, according to Oxford Police Sgt. Jim Squance. As a result, the investigation has been turned over to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.
“The autopsy showed no results of foul play and no signs of trauma,” said Andy Willis, investigator for the Butler County Coroner’s Office. “Toxicology and microscopics are pending and should be back in a couple weeks.”
Although Oxford’s investigation has ended, Clif’s death renders feelings of sympathy from Squance toward Miami’s Sigma Nu chapter.
“This is very traumatic and devastating, especially to the men that live in the house,” Squance said. “From what I understand, he was truly loved by the fraternity, was an outstanding young man and I think the men of the fraternity are taking it very hard.”
Smeltz echoed Squance’s sentiments, explaining that different emotions have emerged within the Sigma Nu house.
“I personally think a lot of us are still in shock and the grieving process may not even start until after the funeral,” Smeltz said. “But we’ve really come together as a group to be here for each other and I think that’s what Clif would want.”
Alexander was part of the Farmer School of Business as an accountancy major, but his involvement in the Miami community extended far beyond academics, according to Smeltz.
During his three years at Miami, Clif engaged in several student organizations including Miami’s hip-hop dance team, the hockey and marching bands, Tau Beta Sigma-the Greek band sorority-the Interfraternity Council Conduct Board as well as his involvement with Sigma Nu as vice president. Because of Clif’s involvement in the Miami community, Smeltz said the loss creates a larger impact outside of the fraternity.
The loss of Clif is a sensitive subject for Miami junior Kyrsten Shrewsberry. As a student who performed in band with him, she emphasized the positive attitude he embodied each time she saw him.
“I never saw the kid without a smile on his face,” she said. “He’s probably one of the happiest people I had ever met. He always had such a good attitude.”
Clif’s death also echoes deep into the Greek community, as he was the descendent of his grandfather-also Clifton Alexander-who endowed the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Leadership.
“It’s a great loss to the university because you always look for kids who are involved and set an example for the rest of us to follow and that’s one thing we’re really going to miss about Clif,” Smeltz said. “You really don’t realize how great someone is until you don’t have them anymore.”
An announcement was posted on Blackboard for Miami community Tuesday morning from Claire Wager, university spokesperson on behalf of Susan Mosley-Howard, dean of students, indicating the death of Clif. She also said his death will filter through the student body, affecting many people outside the fraternity.
“Clif was reportedly an active student and also in extracurriculars, so there are so many people affected by this personally,” Wagner said. “So whether you knew him or not, you feel the effect of a young adult who is now gone.”
After Clif was found Monday night, the brothers of Sigma Nu constructed a memorial on the chapter rock outside of the fraternity house, where members gathered around by candlelight. On the memorial, the brothers placed items that represented him. Next to the rock, several members placed a case of Mountain Dew to represent Clif’s enjoyment of the beverage.
Since then, Smeltz said the memorial has received many visits throughout the week.
“For the chapter in many ways, (the memorial service) was therapeutic to come together as a group and put something together in his honor,” he said.
Clif’s death has triggered reactions from family and friends both far and near. Yet, all messages sent reveal a similar thought-his warmth, friendship and pleasant nature toward all he encountered.
In an online guest book, Clif’s uncle, Jim Schweisthal, said his goodbye with a memory from the past.
“Although your life was cut far too short, the time you were on this earth has impacted many people in a positive way,” he wrote. “What everyone has written about you and the warmth you created for everyone echoes in my feelings. I thoroughly enjoyed when you came to Arizona to visit us during the Ohio State Games. Your sense of humor and wit was something I will always remember. The future visits your family may make to Arizona will not be the same without you.”
Since Clif’s death Monday, two Facebook.com groups-“RIP Clif Alexander … You will be deeply missed” and “In remembrance of the Clifton Alexander”-were formed and have attracted more than 450 members, many of which touch on Alexander’s impact on them.
Miami’s loss has also grabbed the attention of members of the Oxford administration. For recently appointed Mayor Prue Dana, the incident after the holidays is an unfortunate one.
“We are deeply saddened that a student who had just been home for the holidays came back and this happened to him,” Dana said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family as they try to find answers. It’s a terrible loss when someone is so young and has their whole life ahead of them.”
Although the Sigma Nu fraternity continues to struggle with their loss, Smeltz said the brotherhood within the fraternity has never been stronger. And while he’ll miss what he called his “partner in crime,” Smeltz said he deeply cherishes the bond he had with Clif.
“(Clif) was truly loving and caring in everything he did,” he said. “The way the chapter has reacted signifies just how much he meant to us.”
The visitation for Clif will be held from 3-8 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Jamieson-Yannucci Funeral Home in Piqua, Ohio. The following day, the funeral mass will take place at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Piqua.
Clif is survived by his parents, John and Kathleen Alexander, and two siblings.