Remembering Seth Rich

On Sunday, July 10, 2016, we lost a beloved member of our community, when Seth Rich was tragically shot outside his home in Bloomingdale DC. Many people reading this were friends and colleagues of Seth, and our hearts go out to you and his family. Below are some thoughts from the community. If you would like to add your own, email Josh Rosmarin. Those wishing to honor Seth’s memory can make a donation in his name to his summer camp or the Washington Humane Society.

Seth had a habit of showing up at my desk looking lost, as if he had meant to go somewhere else and was surprised to find himself standing there. This happened regularly enough that I would tease him for it, but that moment of seeming confusion was really just a sign that he was about to ask a question that he knew would not have an easy answer. When he’d pop his head over the cube wall, I often chuckled and leaned back in my chair, knowing that I’d be stuck there for a while. But I loved those conversations, when we would talk at length about all sorts of topics—experiments, data collection, research design, modeling, field programs, and lots more. Across both politics and academia, I’ve never known anyone as eager to learn as Seth was. And so while we’ll all remember his fun, gregarious, and sometimes just-plain-goofy public side, I’ll also remember someone who cared so deeply about our work that he was always fighting to improve and grow and do more. We’ve lost one hell of a friend, brother, colleague, teammate, and patriot, but I hope his legacy will serve as an example to others who might step in to take his place.

– Andrew Therriault

We went for daily Starbucks walks and would get matching drinks — a grande (sometimes venti) iced soy latte. He got soy because he was allergic to dairy.

He was excited when the Starbucks near the DNC on Penn was one of the pilot Starbucks to serve alcohol. We never did go though because we couldn’t figure out what time they started serving.

He always wanted me to start watching Silicon Valley so we could talk about it. I told him it was a little too real, and he respected that, but still wanted a buddy to talk about it with.

He had some goofy looking coozies that we used at a Superbowl party at his house last year. He was excited that he was invited to the White House 4th of July picnic, one reason being so he could bring the America-inspired one with him.

He was terrible at Twitter. He had only ever used it to complain to companies, but after something like two years of never getting a response, I had to inform him that his account was set to private so no one could see him. He also always joked about how he wanted to have reign of the Democrats’ twitter account (I’m on the social media team at the DNC). That was the worst idea of course, but we did tweet a puppy once that he sent me who was “on the phone” talking about protecting the vote. Something about how “life is ruff.”

He loved pandas. There was a tiny stuffed panda named Bamboo that Pratt (his boss) would always try to hide around my desk and other places in the office. Seth would often come over just to chat, but sometimes he would be looking around a little more purposefully, knowing that Bamboo had disappeared recently.

I worked with Seth at GQR, and then at the DNC. We had always joked (somewhat joked) that he better choose his next place of employment with my blessing because I’m going to have to follow him there.

He loved dogs. He was the godfather of one of our close mutual friends’ cockapoo puppy, Archie. He’d watch him when they went away and needed a sitter. And would take tons of photos.

Seth liked to be with friends. One time I hosted a brunch that lasted until 11pm, with Seth staying the entire time. He’d always show at barbecues and parties and gatherings — it didn’t matter the occasion. He was friends in DC with a lot of Michigan State graduates, so he’d often come watch football games with us, wearing his Nebraska jersey of course.
He liked giving high fives and calling people “buddy” and “friend.” When I worked with him at GQR, he’d give a row of people morning high fives everyday.

He liked to talk, but he was always very considerate of when other people needed to talk. I remember we’d have conversations where he’d stop in the middle of talking, say “I’m sorry, I just took your story and turned it into mine. Go ahead.” He was so thoughtful and kind.

– Sonja Trierweiler

I met Seth a little over two years ago while interviewing him in a bakery on Capitol Hill. From the first time we spoke, he was passionate about politics and civic engagement, and he spoke of his interest in voter expansion being about his desire to be part of something meaningful, powerful, and so important. We worked on a small but mighty team of four, spending countless hours together during the 2014 election cycle and after. My best memories of Seth will always be the numerous lighthearted moments we had during those long days at work, whether teasing him by hiding his beloved panda or being the recipient of his experiments in sci-fi themed cookies. Seth had such a good heart and the best of intentions, making it even harder to say goodbye. In the months since I left the DNC, we stayed in touch, but now I can only wish I saw him one last time to be sure he knew how important he was to everyone around him. Rest in peace, Sethery – we’ll carry your memories forever.

– Zara Haq

I worked with Seth for a couple of years at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner from 2012 to 2013. He was a funny person who somehow was still able to make other people laugh when working extremely long hours programming surveys; which as anyone who has worked at a polling firm knows, is truly thankless work.

GQR had an excellent lunch culture where most staffers would sit around the lunch table and shoot the breeze almost every day, so I have many fond memories of Seth. Seth was a regular at that table, and there was never a dull moment when he was around. He had a knack for pushing people’s buttons in a way only low stakes lunchtime debates can (for example one day he made a passionate case for why it makes sense to root for all NFC North teams in football) It makes me so happy that Seth’s goofy American flag outfit is all over the the Washington Post, because the one of him in my mind is a fabulous picture of him sitting at his desk with a unicorn mask he had purchased and a cup of coffee in his hand. That’s the Seth I want to remember. May your memory be a blessing Seth.

– Jonathan Robinson

Seth was goofy and gentle and funny and kind. He was joyful and silly. He was the first person to volunteer himself for every humiliating office stunt. This often involved a panda suit, but it could just as easily require a bizarre mask, an ugly sweater, or his now-famous Fourth of July ensemble. He had the most strangely decorated cube at GQR…while others hung calendars and white boards, visiting Seth’s cube was like visiting a little kid’s playroom.

When we threw a birthday party for GQR’s quirky panda-loving office manager, Seth came to work dressed as a panda (of course.) Any other self-respecting adult would not have agreed to do it in the first place—or at the very least would have worn normal clothes to work that day and just changed into the panda garb for the party. Not Seth! He was a panda all day.

In early 2014, I was working on a massive project about education policy. It was a cumbersome, tedious, and decidedly unglamorous project. No one else wanted to touch it. But Seth eagerly volunteered like the kid in class waving his hand yelling “Pick me! Pick me!” There was no competition—but he acted like he had won the lottery when I “picked” him. He ran down to my office and delivered a freshly-printed copy of his senior thesis from Creighton University. It was about education policy. He wanted me to know that he was all in.

He really was all in. He came and met with me daily to discuss his ideas about how to mitigate inequities in American public education. It was completely outside his job description. Hell, it was completely outside mine. He could talk about it for hours. I had to throw him out of my office several times when the cleaning crew came through. I probably hid under my desk more than once when I saw him coming… he really could talk about education policy for hours.

More than anything, Seth wanted to make a difference in the world. He boyishly, almost naively, never had the idealism beaten out of him like so many other jaded and cynical DC Millennials who came here to advance progress.

Here are some snippets from a job recommendation I wrote for him:

Many data analysts see people as numbers. Seth sees numbers and never forgets that there are people behind them…

He is funny, kind, and eager to do well. More importantly, he is eager to do good…

Seth approaches even the most mundane tasks with surprising enthusiasm and joy. I am better for working with him.

– Erica Seifert

I worked with Seth when we were both at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and he was always hilarious and goofy and entertaining. He was an incredible friend and protector, with a really, really, really good heart, all the way through.

1. Every morning he would come down our row of cubicles and high five everyone. It was a great morning ritual.

2. He LOVED any reason to get dressed up or in costume, most especially for International Talk Like a Pirate Day and 4th of July.

3. He had great sock game, forever and always.

– Hannah Ricketts