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Recent alumna remembered for her love of nature

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 08:01

Lily Glidden (LA ‘12), known for her passion for outdoor adventures and remembered by friends for her kindness and outgoing spirit, died two weeks ago in rural Thailand where she was killed by elephants. She was 24.

Glidden, a Class of 2012 graduate and biology major, was passionate about her studies. Her enthusiastic personality rubbed off on other students, according to Professor of Biology Colin Orians, who knew her well from a two week trip he took with her Tropical Ecology/Conservation class to Costa Rica.

“She was just an amazing student,” Orians said. “She had this smile that was contagious. She took her work really seriously
 and made everyone else want to enjoy the trip as much as she did.”

Glidden’s appreciation for the outdoors began at an early age as a sixth grader enrolled in Primitive Pursuits, an Ithaca, N.Y., program that offers courses in outdoor skills and survival, according to Tim Drake, the director of Primitive Pursuits.

“She came once a week every year up until high school,” Drake said. “Then she started working for us and teaching programs for us.”

Glidden was a freshman participant in Tufts Wilderness Orientation (TWO) and served as a trip leader for her sophomore, junior and senior years, according to Eloise Libre and Thea Mink, the current TWO coordinators.

Professor of Biology George Ellmore, who served as a TWO faculty advisor, recalled Glidden’s expertise and character. She led freshman on one of the most difficult wilderness trips in the Mahoosuc Mountains, Ellmore said.

“That hike is famous for its rigor,” Ellmore said. “It includes remote roads, difficult-to-find transport spots, and the steepest section along the entire 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail. We could assign our most trusted leaders to that trip, and Lily was the Senior Leader for both of those years.”

Dan Kim (LA ‘13) served as Glidden’s co-leader during the 2011 hike and remembers her openness with those around her.

“We retreated into the TMC van to escape the pouring rain, wrapped ourselves in [a] heap of sleeping bags, lit a candle and organically fell into a rhythm of sharing secrets,” Kim said in an email the Daily received from the current coordinators of TWO. “Lily was perfectly balanced: fearless, spirited and adventurous, yet so delicate, humble and whole hearted. She not only shared herself with me, but with all of those around her — her TWO freshmen, peers and beyond. 

Glidden also served as president of the Tufts Mountain Club (TMC) in 2010. Members of 2010 TMC Executive Board recalled her constantly seeking new challenges.

“Among her friends at Tufts, Lily was constantly badgered about the best way to make a snow cave or skin road kill,” representatives of the 2010 TMC Executive Board said in a statement. “She loved to challenge herself, for example, living alone in the Fells during one spring break with nothing but the clothes on her back.”

Her friends emphasized, however, that she was an ordinary person with her own share of worries. 

“She worried about her leadership capabilities, why she wasn’t more forceful and outspoken,” 2010 TMC Executive Board members said in their statement. “She worried about finding a job as a wildlife biologist that would pay a living wage. She worried, yet if the stories now pouring in are any indication, she still managed this balance better than most of us.”

According to TMC and TWO, Glidden pursued her dreams after graduation, from “trapping coyotes in Nevada to tracking venomous pit vipers in Hong Kong.”

Drake described her life as one from a “story book.”

“I feel like Lily was one of those very rare souls who followed her heart and really fell into the zone of living a good life,” Drake said. “She really followed her passion
 and probably lived more in her very short life than most of us can hope to do in a long life.”

University officials are working with Glidden’s friends and family to commemorate her through a memorial event. The Daily will publish this information when it is available.

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