Honoring a student, athlete and friend

Paul Englert Jr. is remembered as positive, fun-loving brother


Paul Englert Jr., though an only child, was part of a brotherhood.

He graduated from St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in 2012 alongside his brothers. He went on to attend UB, where he was a sophomore civil engineering major this fall.

On Sept. 19, Paul passed away. He suffered from a pulmonary embolism while waiting for his Engineering Computations lecture to start in Knox Hall on North Campus.

"This is an uncommon occurrence in an otherwise healthy, active 19-year-old male," said Denise Englert, Paul's mother. "This is why we are still in shock. He was our only child."

Jessica Henry, a nursing major, was sitting in the upstairs area of Knox when she noticed Paul hunched over and making strange noises. Emily Ippolito, a freshman undecided major, also noticed Paul as she was walking past and asked him several times if he was OK. When the two girls realized something was wrong, they got two other students to come over and help. While someone called University Police, the girls took Paul's phone and called his mom.

"I was able to reach her at work and explained to her who I was and what was happening," Henry said. "I stayed on the phone with her to calm her down and help her get to the Flint Loop, where [Ippolito] and I met up with her and brought her to [Paul]."

By the time they returned to Knox, Paul was having a seizure and an officer was using a defibrillator on him. The building's sirens for medical help echoed through Knox.

Paul was rushed to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, where he passed away.

Paul's friends and family describe him as genuine and wholehearted with a positive spirit. He was an avid athlete and diligent worker. His high school community has banded together in support of his family and in remembrance of Paul - creating a fund that will benefit students who display his exemplary academic and personal characteristics.

Paul experienced a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that traveled to his lungs, leading to an abrupt respiratory failure and cardiac arrest, according to his mother.

"We are so very grateful that members of the UB student body stepped in so quickly to try to help him and that he was not alone," Denise said.

Pulmonary embolism is diagnosed in about 500,000 persons each year in the United States, resulting in about 200,000 deaths, according to HealthCentral, an online medical encyclopedia. Studies show that for every case of a diagnosed, non-fatal pulmonary embolism, there are 2.5 cases of fatal pulmonary embolism diagnosed only after death, according to the American Thoracic Society.

Blood clotting is uncommon among young adults, according to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Only 1 in 20,000 young adults will have a blood clot.

The university has been in contact with Paul's family and classmates, as well as the students who came to Paul's aid, to provide whatever assistance it can offer since the incident.

Paul was excited to be studying civil engineering and looked forward to graduating from UB, according to his mom.

"Paul was an easy-going young man, always smiling," Denise said. "He loved to play lacrosse, water ski and fly in his uncle's small plane. He enjoyed just hanging out with friends or going to the gym to work out with them."

Paul played varsity lacrosse for all four years at St. Joseph's. John Maher, a sophomore chemical engineering major and a member of Paul's graduating class at St. Joseph's, played football with Paul during his first two years of high school, though he described lacrosse as Paul's "thing."

"He was the best goalie we had, especially our junior and senior years," Maher said.

While at St. Joseph's, Paul was also a member of the food pantry and recycling clubs, the National Honor Society and the Donate Life club. Paul's involvement in the Donate Life club sparked conversation with his parents about organ donation. Paul was an organ donor and helped 50-70 people, according to his mother.

Paul's family was very small, and his grandfather, with whom he shared a birthday, passed away a few days prior to Paul.

Maher first heard of Paul's passing through social media.

"I didn't think it was true. I didn't want to believe it," Maher said. "I took it with a grain of salt."

Paul's graduating class was relatively small - around 165 kids - and as a result, the class was close knit.

"Everyone at St. Joe's [was] like brothers, so we got to know everyone pretty well," Maher said.

This brotherhood continues after graduation, according to Maher. As St. Joseph's students became aware of Paul's passing, many alumni began expressing their condolences on Facebook and Twitter. The day after Paul's passing, St. Joseph's tweeted: "Mourning our brother Paul Englert '12, whose life was taken too soon. We pray for his family, friends and teammates." Paul's senior picture was attached. One hundred and fifty five people retweeted it.

Because Paul commuted from Clarence and Maher lives on campus, he didn't see Paul often. St. Joseph's students emphasized that being part of the brotherhood, however, is a tie for life. Even if they drift apart from each other, they will always stop to say hello and reconnect.

"I just saw him last week, a week before he passed," Maher said. "Just walking through the halls you'd expect to see him."

Ryan O'Hara, a sophomore biomedical engineering major and 2012 graduate of St. Joseph's, also frequently greeted Paul around campus.

"If I ever saw [Paul] in the halls or on the Spine, I would say hello and see how things were going, just as the members in our graduating class do on a daily basis to each other," O'Hara said.

Maher recalled Paul as relatively quiet in class but as someone who constantly contributed to conversation and bettered the discussion.

"He was a kid who would always laugh, even at corny jokes," Maher said. "He had a real hearty laugh and could laugh at anything, anytime something was sort of funny."

After Paul's passing, Maher wanted to show support for Paul and his family. The Englert family had gratefully declined flowers and asked instead that, if desired, contributions be made in his memory to St. Joseph's.

Maher decided to set up a memorial fund in Paul's name to show support for Paul's family; the money was donated to the school. He said he spread the word about the fund through social media, and a lot of students Paul's age and older, as well as their families and friends, donated.

"Paul was a wonderful young man who cared deeply for his fellow students - no matter who they were or what age they were or where they may have come from - and for St. Joe's," said Robert Scott, president of St. Joseph's, in an email. "The outpouring of support for his family and in his name [is] indicative of the way our community felt about Paul."

Maher's memorial fund for Paul, set up through youcaring.org, received an overwhelming response. Maher met his original goal of $250 within a couple hours, and he kept increasing the threshold of the donation goal, eventually reaching $1,250.

Maher collected $1,255 in about eight days to be donated to St. Joseph's in Paul's memory.

"In [the spirit of brotherhood], Paul's classmates are making a significant donation to St. Joe's in his name," Scott said. "Their donation, together with other donations made at the time of Paul's death, will be added to a donation from an anonymous donor so as to create the Paul Englert '12 Memorial Endowment Fund at St. Joe's."

The specifics of the endowment fund are still being finalized, according to Scott.

The fund will annually support an underclassman who will be chosen in the spring, according to Scott. The student will be "identified as having the characteristics Paul consistently displayed while a student at St. Joe's - a serious academician, leadership, concern for others, passion for his school, and a lacrosse player," Scott said.

Paul's legacy will live on at St. Joseph's, and his impact on the brotherhood will never be forgotten.

email: features@ubspectrum.com