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Sad News on an Undergraduate Student

On the passing of Langston Wesley.

Dear students, faculty and staff, 

I am saddened to share news of the passing of Langston Wesley on April 4, 2020. My deep condolences go out to all who knew and loved him. Langston was an undergraduate majoring in Art Practice. He started at Stanford in 2006, and then took several leaves of absence. Most recently, he returned in 2017, and had been living off-campus. Throughout this time, Langston pursued with great determination both his education and creative endeavors. He was a Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity member, and he was looking forward to resuming his studies this spring.

No cause of death has been disclosed. Let us focus on how he was cherished by those who knew him. Although I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Langston, he was known by many on our campus. My understanding is he was always up for a good conversation about art, life, and hot topics, and that he had a very funny side. This was also reflected in the stories Langston’s friends and family contributed to the program for his memorial service held April 22 in Chicago, where he grew up. We connected with Langston’s family shortly after the service, and they graciously agreed to share their memories with us.

His family wrote, “Early in his life, Langston exhibited a love for life and learning. He was a sweet and kind spirit. He loved his family dearly and enjoyed spending time with them. He was quite a personality and would light up a room when he entered. With an infectious smile and unyielding energy, he embarked on a path of many accomplishments in science, art, writing, and music.”

Before arriving at Stanford, Langston was the first African American male valedictorian in his high school’s 90-year history. In the memorial service program, Langston’s Stanford friends recall how their lives were enriched by his presence, how they cherished conversations with him about music and art, and how they will miss his intense loyalty and booming, carefree laugh.

Many of Langston’s works of art were created using acrylic on canvas and multimedia, and they contain autobiographical information along with text and images, codes, numbers, symbols, historical references and reflections on current social, political, religious or cultural trends. They often draw upon graffiti art, fused with evocative images in beautiful colors.

In addition to reaching out to Langston's family to offer support, the university is reaching out to and supporting anyone impacted by this deeply felt loss. Counseling and Psychological Services and the Faculty Staff Help Center are available virtually for students and faculty and staff, respectively. Other resources include our Office for Religious Life and The Bridge Peer Counseling Center. You’ll find more information here.

Once again, to all who knew and loved Langston, please accept my condolences. He seemed to enjoy above all else connecting with friends and family through conversation and art. We were fortunate he chose Stanford and his presence is greatly missed. 


Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs