Students mourn loss of Robert Hyett

    Robert Hyett’s friends remember his commitment to his political beliefs as more than a casual occupation – they remember it as a passion he devoted his life to.

    The Portland State student’s devotion to his work was cut short by a motorcycle crash that took his life Oct. 21. His friends said Hyett was a dynamic person, with a sense of humor and diligence to his beliefs.

    ”A lot of people, they give up their time and effort, and others give up themselves,” said Shah Smith, a friend and former coworker. “Robert was that kind of guy.”

    Hyett, the former President of the Portland State College Republicans, was killed in the accident after running into the back of a sport utility vehicle at the intersection of Northwest Chapin Drive and Skyline Boulevard. Portland Police said that alcohol played a role in the crash that took the life of the 30-year-old Portland State student.    

    Smith, who first met Hyett in late 2002, said that he first heard the news while in Washington for business with Cameron Turner, senior editor for The Portland Spectator and another friend of Hyett’s. Jeremiah Hoffman, president of the PSU College Republicans, called and told Smith of Hyett’s death. Smith said that neither he nor Turner could believe the news.

    Hyett was born June 28, 1976 and has lived in the Portland area since he was a child. After graduating from Aloha High School, he served in the National Guard. As well as being involved with the College Republicans, where he most recently held the position of webmaster, Hyett volunteered at the Oregon Ballet Theater for seven years.

    A senior at PSU, Hyett had only a short time left before he graduated, with his studies focused on Political Science and History. On campus, he was involved with many student groups, including the sailing club and Viking motor sports.

    Hyett married Sarah Long in May of this year. They had a daughter, Lucy, just 11 days before his death, Turner said.

    Hyett was the first President of the PSU College Republicans, and according to Turner, was instrumental in the creation of the now-solid chapter. Turner said that Hyett had played a key role in helping the College Republicans become organized.

    Turner said Hyett’s commitment to the Republican ideology was an important part of his success with the College Republicans, as well as articles he wrote for The Portland Spectator as a contributing writer. Turner said Hyett’s contributions to the university were indispensable.

    ”When you needed him he was there,” Smith said. “And he was there with a smile.”

Smith said Hyett was passionate about immigration reform, foreign policy issues and giving the United States a positive outlook. He said Hyett was interested in promoting conservative viewpoints on campus and he put all of himself into what he believed in. Smith said Hyett wanted a variety of viewpoints to be heard on campus and he believed in the ideas of openness and diversity.

    ”The guy was multi-talented,” Smith said. “He used these talents to bring a contribution.”

    Turner described an article Hyett wrote for the Spectator last year about the Muslim cartoon riots as an example of Hyett’s fearless attitude. Hyett decided to delve headfirst into the subject, ignoring any controversy. The Spectator will be reprinting the cartoon article in their next issue.

    ”He wasn’t afraid of confrontation,” Turner said.

    When people would confront the College Republicans on campus, sometimes going so far as to knock over their display in the park blocks, Turner said Hyett would use humor to dispel any negativity from the situation. Smith said his sense of humor, as well as his positive attitude, were tools Hyett would use to his advantage in many difficult situations.

    ”He would kill em’ with kindness,” Smith said. “The worst thing you can do is take yourself too seriously.”

    A funeral was held for Hyett, Oct. 28 at the All Saints Catholic Church in Portland, which was attended by over 100 people. Hyett’s now-deleted MySpace profile functioned as a memorial for friends. Turner said there were a large number of comments and remembrances of Hyett from many of his friends.

    ”He had courage; he had guts; he was a dynamic guy,” Smith said.