In Memoriam: Hans Horst-Martz ’17 and Major Van Winkle ’12

Hans Horst-Martz ’17

It is we great sadness that we report the tragic death of Hans Horst-Martz ’17, who died by suicide on December 30, 2020. He was a fully engaged and integral part of the Friends Select community and will be deeply missed.
A senior at Connecticut College, Hans was a Friends Select lifer who started as a pre-kindergarten student, joining his sister Emma ’14 and his father Galen, who taught at the school. Hans took pride in being a member of and leader in the community; he had many friends in his close-knit class and was involved in student government, the Diversity club, and the Black Student Union, and he served as an admission ambassador welcoming prospective students and their families to Friends Select. “Hans was responsible for bringing forward new initiatives in the upper school and could often be found meeting with teachers and administrators to share his ideas and to move an idea forward into action,” said Erin Pratt, associate director of upper school and Hans’s 9th grade advisor. “Hans was a good friend to many students in his class, in the upper school, and on the teams for which he played. He knew Friends Select inside and out.” 

“When Hans entered the middle school art studio, the bright light within him shined on everyone else in the room, adding delightful energy to the creative space. Hans brought intelligence and humor to the art room and beyond. His art was witty, whimsical, and animated,” said Fred Kogan, middle school art teacher. “He was a good friend to students and adults in the wider Friends Select community, always checking in to see how folks were feeling, and always there to help others through difficult times. We will really miss the joy, humor, kindness and light that Hans brought to everyone in his life.”

Major Van Winkle ’12

It is with great sadness that we report the tragic death of Major Van Winkle ’12, who died by suicide on September 15, 2020.
Major attended Friends Select School from 7th through 12th grade and was adored by his classmates and faculty. He was a member of the baseball team throughout his seven years at the school—his father, Wink, even coached middle school baseball—and immersed himself in Friends Select musical performances through the upper school ensemble and the composers forum.
Heather Fortune, middle and upper school music teacher and performing arts department chair, was consistently amazed by Major’s talent. “For Friends Select’s first concert at World Cafe Live, we played Beethoven’s “Symphony No.5,” and I asked Major if he would create an original piece of electronic music to serve as one of the movements,” she shared. “What he wound up making was far beyond what I might have imagined. The look on his face as the sound system was blasting his piece was satisfied, joyful, and full of wonder. That’s a look I saw on his face quite often, which is pretty special.”
Major was a songwriter, producer, percussionist, and singer who grew up in a family where music was part of his everyday life. He performed in Philadelphia’s renowned concert venues, sometimes alongside his father, and was the opening act for The Roots’ Picnic in 2014. Shortly thereafter, Major was signed as the opening act for rapper Currensy’s three-city tour. Major’s most recent albums were released in 2020: “Selfish Presley” and “Be Kind to B-Sides.” 

A fan of Philly sports, Major started performing weekly raps ahead of Eagles games on WIP sports talk radio in 2016. His creations became a local sensation throughout the team’s Super Bowl-winning season, and he visited Friends Select in 2018 to sing his Eagles rap song as part of a school-wide Super Bowl pep rally.

Major Van Winkle ’12 Wellness Fund

The Major Van Winkle ’12 Wellness Fund supports programs and activities that create awareness of mental health concerns, foster open conversations, and increase awareness and education of the Friends Select community in recognizing warning signs that may lead to crisis, as well as equipping students with the skills to increase their overall well-being. 

This fund was established through the generosity of Major’s family, classmates, and many friends as a tribute not only to his life but also his care and compassion for others. Major, who took his own life at the age of 26, would have wanted students to have access to the help they need and for them to know that they are not alone.
Dan Capecchi, middle school music teacher, lead advisor, and middle and upper school percussion director, shared, “The difficulties that Major had that led to his suicide are difficulties that many people have, especially many young people. They could really use some help, sorting things out and knowing they’re not alone. And their friends could use some help in knowing how to reach out to their friends who are suffering, recognizing signs, and how to intervene and offer support. The Major Van Winkle ’12 Wellness Fund keeps Major’s memory and positivity alive through something that helps people.” 

If you know someone in crisis call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the Lifeline’s website or the Crisis Text Line’s website.