The #BaylorFamily bond: BU profs honor peers’ son’s passing with musical tribute
Two Baylor professors are living with the unimaginable — the passing of their 16-month-old son.
But they are not alone.
Felix Donovan Flavin was born Feb. 18, 2019, to Drs. Pat and Rebecca Flavin, who have each taught political science at Baylor since 2010. Sadly, Felix was born with a complex heart defect (tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia) and trisomy 21 (Down syndrome). Before he reached 6 months old, Felix had already braved two heart surgeries — the first when he was just 9 days old.
“He was such a sweet, strong baby, who fought so hard through all of his battles and hospitalizations,” says Rebecca. “Through it all, our Baylor Family was among Felix’s biggest cheerleaders.”
Students would frequently email to check on him, even after COVID-19 shifted classes online. Colleagues generously stepped in last-minute to cover their courses when needed.
In February, Felix was hospitalized for the flu, which later turned into severe pneumonia. He passed away in June.
Around the same time, Pat was participating in Baylor’s Summer Faculty Institute (SFI), a BU program that helps professors become better teachers and researchers. Like many other programs in 2020, instruction was exclusively conducted online — but that didn’t inhibit the strong bond that manifests within the Baylor Family.
Upon hearing of Felix’s passing, SFI faculty from the School of Music and Department of Theatre Arts came together to honor their colleagues’ son with a special performance of “Amazing Grace”:
Dr. Sandor Ostlund, professor of double bass, helped organize the tribute. “Though we had not had the opportunity to meet Pat or his family in person, the SFI fellows had all developed a strong bond during our weeks together,” he says. “We all felt this loss very deeply. The arrangement was intended to be a reflection of the struggle we all experience finding understanding and reason in trials where our faith is tested.”
Parts of other hymns, including “How Great Thou Art,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “All Creatures of Our God and King,” are embedded in this piece, pointing to where our ultimate comfort is found. Vocals were performed by Drs. Kimberly Monzón and Amy Petrongelli (vocal studies) and Lauren Weber (musical theatre); Dr. Samuel Parler (music history) played piano; Brent Phillips (trombone) played trombone; and Ostlund played double bass.
“The musicians put this together in a matter of days, which is a testament not only to their dedication to supporting the Flavins, but also to their immense talent,” says Dr. Craig Clarkson, PhD ’15, manager of operations for SFI.
“We are so touched by this beautiful tribute,” says Rebecca, “and we will always cherish the love and support faculty, staff and students felt for our son.”
Sic ’em, SFI fellows — and Flavins, we are with you.