Tyler Gerth ’11 was chronicling the events in Louisville during June 2020 using his passion for photography. Someone not connected to either side of the issues of the day appeared on a Saturday night and started shooting randomly into those who had gathered across from the courthouse. Tyler was killed. His photographs captured the scenes TV cameras would show but also tender moments of people from both sides in conversations, people smiling, people of all ages being together.
Despite their grief and pain, his family, particularly his sisters Tiffany and Brittany, became determined to make something positive out of the loss. They have begun the Building Equal Bridges, The Tyler Gerth Foundation, which as its name indicates, tries to build bridges among people in a variety of ways.
We worked with the family to memorialize Tyler’s life and his call to “be excellent to each other”. On the west wall of Alumni Hall, facing the Hollenbach Family Alumni Courtyard, is a sculpture and a plaque which reads:
July 3, 1992 – June 27, 2020
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Tyler Gerth, Class of 2011, used his passion for photography to shed light on the demonstrations for racial justice that were taking place in Louisville in 2020.
He tragically died a victim of gun violence while doing so. This sculpture captures scenes from Louisville as seen from Tyler’s lens.
From his family and in the halls of his Alma Mater, he learned that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.
When a Trinity student lives by Tyler’s philosophy of “Be Excellent to Each Other”, he moves closer to being a Man of Faith and Character.
This location is an appropriate one for a couple reasons. First, Todd Hollenbach ‘57, for whom his children made a large gift to rebuild and name this courtyard, led a student boycott of a neighboring deli who refused to serve their non-white classmates back in the mid-1950s. Todd was also the Jefferson County Judge Executive at the time of court-ordered busing and, even to the detriment of his future political aspirations, was devoted to seeing the ruling that aimed to desegregate public schools to its fruition. Second, as part of the Freshmen Success program, staff from the Alumni and Foundation offices explain to every frosh what the courtyard is about. They talk about our alumni association, the House patron plaques, the Hollenbach legacy of racial justice and now can include this story about Tyler and the pursuit of harmony among all – his notion of being excellent to everyone. This can be another way to reenforce the lessons we know are important.