image of Alvaro Ugalde climbing hill

In Others’ Words

Suphal Agrawal

May 5, 2015

It is with deep sorrow and a sense of great personal loss that I received the news of Alvaro’s passing.

I last saw Alvaro about three years ago, sitting on the front steps ‎of Nectandra with Evelyne, waiting for my wife and me to arrive from Arenal, our last vacation spot in Costa Rica before traveling to Panama for the wedding of a close friend’s son. I remember how excited Alvaro was about Nectandra, the expansion plans he and Evelyne had for it, their work on water treatment, and how he gave us a very enthusiastic and information-filled tour of the grounds and the flora. And, then he took us all to his house on top of the hill, with a beautiful 360-degree view of the whole area for miles around, for a beer and to meet his friends and roomies. We later rode together to San Jose, where he had another house, and my wife and I had a flight to catch next morning.

Alvaro was my roommate in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was pursuing a Masters program in Park Planning and I was a postdoctoral fellow on the faculty of Materials Science and Engineering. We spent a year together in a small apartment in the Ecumenical Community Center, hosted many social events, some with my friends and some with Alvaro’s. I remember how Saturday mornings used to be a ‘riot’ time. It seemed that all of Alvaro’s class would assemble in our little apartment that one weekend morning and do their week’s worth of assignments and creative planning all at that time, just when I was trying to sleep in after a frigid, snowy Ann Arbor winter night! When Alvaro’s term ended about May of the following year, and it was time for him to go home, there were many earnest promises from friends to get back together soon; the goodbyes left several heavy hearts in that little ECC community. He was a very amicable and sincere person, who had touched many people and many hearts.

People like Alvaro are extraordinarily sensitive and caring, and have the gift to be able to rise high above their self interests to give of themselves, so others may have a better life, and the world may be a better place as a whole. Alvaro, my dear friend, I will miss you and always think of you as a superior human being, who gave more to those around him than he took. May you rest in peace forever!

Suphal Agrawal
Los Angeles