College mourns death of ‘beloved’ senior

College mourns death of ‘beloved’ senior

May 10, 2017

Warren Xavier Sales, a Maryville College senior from Douglasville, Ga., passed away Monday evening, May 8.

Sales, 22, collapsed unexpectedly on campus late Monday night, and emergency responders were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead at Blount Memorial Hospital.

“I know this news is both shocking and heartbreaking for all who knew Xavier,” Vice President and Dean of Students Dr. Melanie V. Tucker wrote in a memo to students and faculty and staff members early Tuesday morning. “He was a beloved member of our campus community, active in the Black Student Association, the Voices of Praise gospel choir and the Bonner Scholars. The student body elected him Homecoming King in 2015.

“He also was an adored friend, brother and son. So, this loss will be felt deeply across our campus and beyond. I ask that you keep Xavier’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time,” Tucker added.

Sales, a sociology major, was expected to graduate on May 21.

College administrators and campus security officers are cooperating with the Maryville Police Department as it conducts a routine investigation.

Service held Tuesday

The College held a private service of remembrance for members of the campus community Tuesday night in the Alumni Gym. Hundreds were in attendance.

“At our service, students, faculty and staff told stories about Xavier, and they reflected on what they would carry with them,” said the Rev. Dr. Anne McKee, campus minister who led the event. “While each story was different, themes emerged – of a charismatic, striking student who made a point to befriend students on the outside of a group – the shy or awkward one who found a true friend in the Homecoming King. We heard stories of kindness, generosity, humor and passion – traits that students pledged, over and over again, to carry into their own lives.

“We were especially blessed by the final stories, from Xavier’s sister, Kristina Sales ‘07, who told us how her family worried that their little Xavier might be too shy to make friends, himself, at Maryville,” McKee added. “There were laughter and tears, of course, and also a renewed appreciation of being in a community where students are so cared for, and where they learn well to care for each other – where in some ways, our hearts beat together and keep beating for those who are no longer with us.”

Memorials, activities planned

So that Sales’s name is remembered on campus for years to come, the Class of 2017 is raising money to plant two trees in his memory. People may donate through the College’s website, (Designate the donation for “Senior Gift” in the drop-down menu, and on the next page, type “Warren Xavier Sales” into the “in memory of” box.)

Tricia Bruce’s SOC:315 Social Inequality class (a class in which Sales was enrolled this semester) is going to honor him by making an in-person donation Friday morning to Blount County Family Promise, an organization that shelters families and helps them get back into homes of their own. Please email Dr. Bruce to contribute.

At Tuesday’s service of remembrance, the Office of Student Development provided materials for students, faculty and staff to write letters to Sales’s family. If others would like to send cards, they can email or mail them to the Office of Student Development (; 502 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Maryville, TN 37804).

The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine’s HABIT [Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee] therapy dogs will be outside of Pearsons Hall, May 10 and 11, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., to help lift the spirits of campus community members.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,154.