UNC senior Harris Pharr remembered for his passion

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Friends and family of Harris Pharr gather Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil at the Old Well. 

After meeting Harris Pharr in April, Percy, a UNC junior, said they spoke everyday and began dating.

“It happened so fast,” Percy said. “We just both knew that we were each other’s, and we didn’t need anyone else.”

Pharr, a UNC senior, died Thursday at the age of 21. The cause of death is yet to be determined as police await the autopsy and toxicology reports.

“I only got him for three months, and I got to know myself better in that time than I have in my entire life,” Percy said. “My biggest regret is that I didn’t get enough time with him. To have someone who I loved so much ripped away from me was awful — you just feel like your whole world is cracking, that you’ll never be happy again.”

Pharr, who graduated from Raleigh’s Needham B. Broughton High School in 2011, was majoring in biomedical engineering at UNC with minors in physics and Spanish. He was also a member of Chi Phi fraternity.

Chi Phi President Angus Robertson said the fraternity was deeply saddened when they learned of Pharr’s death. Pharr had been the rush chairman for the fraternity.

“Harris was an intelligent, caring and genuine young man and an irreplaceable presence in our house,” Robertson said. “He was a steadfast friend to all who knew him, and he will be dearly missed.”

Pharr’s mother, Jodi Pharr, described him as a motivated person who was always interested in learning.

“He was so curious about anything and everything,” Jodi Pharr said.

Percy echoed her sentiment.

“I’m never going to meet someone like him again,” she said. “He always knew he was heading for something greater ... he was brilliant.”

Despite moving from Florida and living in North Carolina for less than a year before attending UNC, Jodi Pharr said her son loved UNC.

“He loved the professors, he loved the challenges that UNC presented, he loved the sports,” she said.

Percy said Harris Pharr was one of the best things about UNC and said he was incredibly motivated in his studies.

“That boy, once he set his mind on something, he was damn determined to do it,” she said. “I mean that boy never left campus — he took classes every summer session he could.”

Jodi Pharr said he had talked about going to the West Coast with ambitions to work for a big company, like Boeing. She said he planned to continue his education after he graduated.

“An undergraduate degree would not have been enough for him — he definitely wanted to continue on with a master’s, or even a doctorate,” she said.

At a candlelight vigil held at the Old Well by the Interfraternity Council, IFC president Kenan Lee Drum said while everyone gathered to mourn and support the Pharr family, he wanted to also celebrate his life.

“Harris always found time to smile,” Drum said. “He always found time to laugh and to make you smile.”

Junior Emily Wheeler said Harris Pharr had an infectious smile and rarely saw him unhappy. She said when they took a math class together, he was always there to help her.

“He’d stay up to till 4 a.m. studying with me,” she said. “He was really caring and just a nice guy. He was one of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met.”

Percy said he spoke about everything with a passion unique to him. She and Drum both emphasized what a genuine person Pharr was.

“He was one of the happiest persons I’ve known,” Percy said. “He changed the life of everyone he touched. I honestly cannot remember anything bad about him.”

Contact the desk editor at  university@dailytarheel.com.

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