Friends remember Nick Klawes


Photo contributed.

Nick Klawes ’13 was the kind of friend to go out of his way for others. This past summer, while working on research with friend Willie Perreault ’13, Nick got a call from friend and fellow band-member Joel Coats ’13 about playing an impromptu show in Ames.

“I called Nick and told him that he needed to find a car and drive to Ames and to be there in two hours,” Coats said.

“I was there when Nick got this phone call, and he gets this look on his face,” Perreault said. “15 seconds later he’s like, ‘Yeah, okay, no. I’m gonna go here, and I have a new plan. Can I borrow your van to go play this show with Joel?’ And I said, ‘I’ll do you one better. I’ll drive you there.’”

After an hour drive in silence, during which Nick was finishing up a song for them to play, he and Coats played a beautiful acoustic set.

“I love their band because it was so emblematic of both Joel and Nick. It was this whole seat-of-the-pants but really intensely involved with the project. That was Nick. All the way,” Perreault said.


Photo contributed.

Nick died December 11, 2012. He was 22, a Philosophy major and a resident of Madison, Wisconsin. Although he passed away, his friendship, talent and profound intellectualism remain in the Grinnell community.

One of Perreault’s many memories is from Waltz second year. Nick convinced Perreault to put on a suit and head to the dance.

“I wasn’t gonna go to Waltz,” Perreault said. “But Nick showed up to my room and he was all studded-out in his suit and said, ‘Come on, you have a suit, you can put it on, right?’ And I said, ‘yeah I have a suit, I can put it on, but I don’t want to go to Waltz, that doesn’t sound appealing to me at all.’ And Nick said, ‘No. We gotta go.’ So I said, ‘I can’t dance, Nick. I don’t know how to dance.’ And Nick said, ‘Dancing is easy! Dancing is so easy.’ And so he grabs me, and Nick is a big guy, and he just starts spinning me around. He picks me up off the floor and just spins me. And I’m like, ‘This is fun. If this is dancing for Nick, then this is great.’ So I put on my suit and we went.”

Nick was a true thinker.

“We used to take long aimless walks around town,” Coats said.

“The walk and talk was a signature Nick philosophical move,” Perreault added.

“I’ve never felt like I was more figuring things out than when we would do that. I think we both did.” Coats said. “As far as figuring out broader questions about what to do with philosophy and what the author wants and why they’re writing it, that’s what we talked about.”

While a deep thinker, Nick was always down to earth and eager to trade ideas with people. Nick was continually supportive.

“He was just so warm all the time: physically warm, emotionally warm as well, but I remember always being able to count on Nick to give me a big, comfy hug and giving me some body heat,” Perreault said.

While these memories only scratch the surface of who Nick was, it gives a small sense of the many ways he will be missed throughout campus.

“It seems to be the pattern,” Perreault said. “All of these people’s lives were only slightly touched by Nick, but they all remember him as being this totally positive and awesome dude, which is how I remember him as well. I’m amazed by how many people around campus he knew, was nice to and was cool around.”

—Written by Emma Sinai-Yunker