Tranquil Calley (’89 M.A.) wanted to give her late son something that most people rarely think about: immortality.
Calley’s son, Kalyn Smith-Tranquil’son (’81), died of AIDS-related complications in 1994 at the age of 34. The anthropology major, who was known as Colin Smith while attending UCR, was an early advocate for gay rights on campus.
At that time, Calley says, gay rights were not as widely accepted as they are today, and school administrators didn’t know what to do with her openly gay son. After his death she felt a compelling need to commemorate his life.
“Most of us get immortality through our children,” said Calley, a little wistfully, “but when you lose a child, especially one that is gay, you don’t have that.”
Calley decided to establish a fund at the university so that her son would not be forgotten; but it took a while to figure out how the money should be used.
“I dallied as to whether it should be something in his area — he was a poet and I was an English major – or should I give it to someone who had furthered tolerance of gay people.”
Then she ran into Nancy Tubbs, director of UCR’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center.
“Nancy said that every quarter at least one student fears losing financial support from their family because of their sexual orientation. Immediately the lightening bolts went off. This is something Kalyn would have wanted.”
To help those students, the Kalyn Smith- Tranquil’son Memorial Fund provides emergency financial assistance until the Financial Aid Office can secure a grant or loan. So far, only one student has received assistance from the fund, but Calley is happy it’s there for those who need it. She believes her son is happy about it, too.
“I am sure Kalyn is giving me a big ‘thumbs up’ from wherever he is.”
For more information on the fund, visit www.out.ucr.edu.