Photos courtesy of Brendan McMullin
For family and friends of Elizabeth “Liz” Tarpey, there aren’t enough positive words to characterize the energetic Braintree High graduate.
Yet speaking about Tarpey has been the challenge this week, after the 23-year-old died in a hiking accident in Hawaii last Saturday.
“Her joy, her good nature, it’s tough to put into a little box,” said uncle and godfather Brendan McMullin, about what he would remember most about her. “Through this last several days we’ve all been together, the whole family, no one can remember any time where Liz was ever even in a sour mood.”
According to the New York Daily News, Tarpey was hiking the Pu’u Manamana hiking trail in Kaawa, known in Yelp reviews as the most dangerous hike on the island of Oahu, when she stepped on a patch of loose soil and fell 300 feet.
Helicopter rescue crews had a difficult time reaching Tarpey, the Daily News reported. She was eventually rescued and taken to the hospital, where she later passed away.
The accident cut short a life just on the brink of blossoming, McMullin said.
A 2007 Braintree High graduate, Tarpey was already a success story leaving high school. The track, cross-country, and tennis athlete also played in the band, and was a member of the National Honors Society and Spanish National Honors Society.
Tarpey went on to Georgia Tech University. After graduating with a degree in Industrial and systems engineering in 2011, she began working as a business analyst at C&S Wholesale Grocers in Keene, N.H. She soon was given the opportunity to work in the company's Hawaii offices.
While in Hawaii, Tarpey also became a charter member of the Prince Kuhio Toastmasters Club, and volunteered in numerous organizations in Hawaii, McMullin said.
“She had such a busy life filled with friends and activities and exploring the island,” McMullin said. “She befriended so many people.”
A lover of the outdoors, McMullin said she went on many hikes, writing about her adventures in a journal she kept.
“Lots of her friends said she was always the very, very careful one. She wasn’t reckless, was always prepared and was physically fit,” McMullin said. “She kept a journal and wrote about her days, the climbs she did, people she met, places she went, and work experiences. Even then, she had a predisposition to only say positive things.”
Tarpey loved to travel, going abroad to Oxford and visiting relatives in Ireland.
In her spare moments, Tarpey was teaching herself ukulele.
“She had a lot of plans moving forward in her life. But boy, oh boy, did she not only work hard, but she took time to smell the flowers,” McMullin said. “She experienced every day of her life, she experienced life.”
McMullin said Tarpey was mother's best friend and the biggest fan of both of her brothers’ – one older and one younger .
“She never forgot any birthdays or important dates. She has lots of cousins who all have awesome memories of her,” McMullin said.
Friends came out in droves for a sunset memorial in Hawaii last Tuesday celebrating Tarpey’s life. Relatives who attended the event said it was unbelievably moving.
"She really was just loved by everybody who met her," McMullin said.
Locally, funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.
Tarpey leaves behind parents Chris and Mary, brothers Noah and Nathan, and many cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends.