Mark Palmarella, a senior economics major at the University of Maryland, died in his hometown of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, on May 15. He was 21 years old.
Palmarella, who was born Aug. 18, 1995, began attending this university in 2014. In 2015, he became a brother of this university's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity chapter, said senior physiology and neurobiology major Ryan Mortman, who is also in the fraternity.
"I was fortunate enough to have met him the first day of freshman year and shared these past three years of college memories with him," Mortman said. "After he joined Sigma Phi Epsilon during his sophomore year, he would constantly remind me that I was his reason for joining, and I am so glad I nagged him enough about how he would be a great fit with the brothers."
Palmarella was known among his friends for his personable nature and how easy it was to have a conversation with him, Mortman said.
"While I did have unforgettable experiences with him going out to parties and the bar and stuffing our faces at 251 [North]," he said, "being able to talk to Mark about anything at any given time of the day is something I will really miss about him."
John Burns, a senior mechanical engineering major, lived on Palmarella's floor in Easton Hall their freshman year. Palmarella was "the kind of person who could light up a room when he walked in," he said.
"He was the type of person that was there for you, especially when it seemed like your life was falling apart," Burns said. "He talked my friends and I through some of the most difficult times during college, and he was always a person that I relied on heavily."
Before attending this university, Palmarella graduated from Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, Pennsylvania. He played lacrosse for the school and was awarded the Saint Augustine Christian Service Award, which he received after completing a service trip to Peru, Malvern Patch reported in 2014.
"Mark was one of the most genuine, down-to-earth guys I became friends with," Mortman said. "That's the kind of guy Mark was; that's how he stood out in a crowd. He was able to touch the heart of anyone that he talked to."
Easttown Police Department officers assigned to Palmarella's case said the cause of death has not yet been made public.
"For family privacy, I'm not going to get into details, but there's no foul play suspected," said Detective Andrew Tritz.
Palmarella is survived by his parents, Ernie and Norma, and his three siblings, Dan, Kate and Graceann. Members of Palmarella's immediate family said while they wanted to celebrate his life and personality, they needed time to grieve privately.
Memorial contributions can be made in Palmarella's honor to the Malvern Preparatory School's Peru Programming, a cause that "he was truly passionate about," the obituary read.
No memorial or viewing is scheduled at this time, according to a spokesperson for the Alleva Funeral Home in Paoli, Pennsylvania.
"I am damn proud to have called Mark Palmarella my brother and best friend, and we are going to miss him terribly," Mortman said. "We love you, Mark."
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story misidentified Ryan Mortman as Ryan Morton. This story has been updated.