Jerry (Bei) Sun, a Duke University biology student, passed away Wednesday, March 4, from a rare form of cancer. Jerry was scheduled to graduate from Duke in 2016.
Duke flags were lowered to half-mast in his honor.
"Jerry loves every one of you," said Jerry's mother, Cathy Liu. "He appreciated all the help the Duke community gave him. Although he may not have been in contact with you during the past few months, I know Jerry missed all of you very much!"
Jerry first came to Duke as a high school student at North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham to do an independent study project in the Center for Biomedical and Tissue Engineering. The lab became an important part of his life at Duke.
"Jerry came to us as a talented student with a deep interest in science. He was curious and bright, and learned complex materials quickly," said Jun Chen, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, who oversaw his work both as a high school student, and subsequently as a Duke student beginning in the fall of 2012. "Jerry worked and thought creatively, and his contributions were equivalent to those of a junior graduate student."
Jerry was diagnosed with a germ cell tumor this past spring. During his treatment, he expressed great thanks and wonder at the support he received from his friends and family.
"You guys... I don't know even know where to begin," he wrote in a recent Facebook post. "I left my inbox alone for a day and it completely exploded. Thank you for the overwhelming support. Thank you for sharing my story. Thank you for your kind words. I've been humbled every step of the way by the kindness and support of the community around me."
"Jerry was the type of guy that you could trust your deepest secrets with and he would never tell a soul," said Lucy Ma, a close friend. "We talked about classes, friends, lab work, relationships. He was great at giving advice and maintaining an objective perspective. He was dedicated to his friends, academics, and family. I miss him dearly."
Jerry is survived by his parents, Jingli Sun and Chunying Liu; a younger sister, Lily May Sun; paternal grandmother, Sulan Xia; maternal grandmother, Zhilan Cui and maternal grandfather, Yixun Liu. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Huaide Sun.
Services will be held Saturday, March 14. at 2 p.m. at Chinese Christian Mission Church, 4528 Bennett Memorial Road in Durham.
Memorial contributions may be made online to Duke Cancer Institute through https://www.gifts.duke.edu (in memory of Jerry Bei Sun).