By Alice Phillips
A sea of students dressed in white filled East Chalmers for the memorial service for Ishan Bose-Pyne ’12 Monday afternoon.
Bose-Pyne was in the bathroom in his home Sept. 2 when he reportedly ran out, his shirt in flames. He was treated at the LAC-USC burn unit for third degree burns over more than half of his body before he died Sept. 13 of an infection, a complication from the third degree burns.
“He was born in 1994 with the Northridge quake,” father Bedebrata Pain said at the funeral at Hollywood Forever cemetery Sept. 16. “On Sept. 13, he created an earthquake of his own in our lives.”
“This is a kid who lived life to the fullest,” mother Shonali Bose said at Bose-Pyne’s funeral service last Thursday. “Ishan has left at the peak of his life with excitement and happiness.”
At the memorial service Monday, speakers remembered Bose-Pyne for his “curiosity of mind,” “beaming grin” and ubiquitous brown leather jacket. His friends spoke volumes about his ability to light up a room with his “contagious laughter” even when they were down after tough test or a bad day.
Student musicians played Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to commence the memorial service. Bose, Pain, teachers and friends spoke in pairs in between sets from members of the jazz program. The Jazz Explorers, accompanied by four singers, ended the memorial with James Taylor’s “Shower the people you love with love,” in honor of Bose-Pyne’s passion for music.
The chapel at Hollywood Forever cemetery overflowed with family, friends and members of the Harvard-Westlake community to commemorate Bose-Pyne’s “zest for life,” Pain said.
“If he was into something, wild horses wouldn’t hold him back,” Pain said. “I would spend hours with him, chatting about stuff. Our drives to school and evening sessions. Our Sundays when we would go to IHOP and talk about politics, physics, philosophy, chemistry and history.”
“Coming to school for Ishan was like letting a kid go in a candy store,” Upper School Dean Tamar Adegbile said.
Bose-Pyne’s teachers remembered his passion for learning and ability to energize a classroom. He “gave 3,000 percent to anything,” his father said, including Chess Club, the fencing team, the jazz program and the Science Bowl team at Harvard-Westlake, where he transferred as a sophomore from North Hollywood High School Gifted Magnet.
Bose-Pyne’s mastery of chess was noticed immediately by all who dared to play with him, but his friends said that even though Bose-Pyne won nearly every game with sharp concentration, his “goofy” personality was never far away.
Matt Heartney ’12 said that Bose-Pyne was always several moves ahead during one of their chess games and easily bested Heartney.
“I couldn’t stay mad for long because when I looked up from the board Ishan was belting out a full body laugh,” Heartney said.
Bose-Pyne’s passion for academics was evident to all of his teachers, including his Choices and Challenges teacher President Thomas Hudnut.
Hudnut said that “resident in this one boy” were all of the qualities teachers admire in their students, including curiosity of mind and a fervent interest in learning.
“He had not just a twinkle in his eye,” Hudnut said. “He had a real sparkle.”
School Psychologist Luba Bek, who team taught Bose-Pyne’s Choices and Challenges classes with Hudnut, said Bose-Pyne fit in from the first day, even as a new sophomore.
“Peer pressure wasn’t for him,” Bek said. “He knew who he was and who he valued and what choices you needed to make in life.”
“A good teacher is supposed to keep track of all the new kids at Harvard-Westlake,” Bose-Pyne’s Honors Chemistry teacher Chris Dartt said. “Mrs. Adegbile called and asked if Ishan was fitting in and I thought, ‘This lady’s crazy. She’s got the wrong name.’”
Bose-Pyne’s effusive smile permeated throughout the memories of Bose-Pyne from family, friends and teachers alike.
“Even the days that were nothing special, Ishan was always there, laughing,” Colin Campbell ’12 said. “He did what he did simply because he loved to do it.”
While Bose-Pyne was reading Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” last year, English teacher Ariana Kelly had her students act out various scenes. When it came time to act out a scene between Olivia and Viola, the class insisted that Bose-Pyne play Olivia. After initially resisting the request to play a Shakespearean female, Bose-Pyne gave in.
“He did it with gusto because he knew it would make us laugh,” Kelly said. “He knew it would make us happy. I was consciously thankful every day last year that he was a member of my English class.”
Another student in the class video-taped the scene in question and it was played at the memorial service in Chalmers.
“There are some people in this world that are such evolved souls,” Bose said. “Ishan was one of them. We can’t have them on this earth for long.”
“He’s thrilled right now,” Bose said at the memorial service. “He’s like, ‘This has been the most kick-ass service.’”