Remembering my cousin, Yale Pilz (1982-2002)

Nine years ago today, Yale Pilz, a second cousin of mine, was tragically killed in car accident.

I was reminded of this anniversary by his brother Evan, who created a Facebook group in his memory.

Even though I was thirteen when he died and we didn’t share too many memories together, simply the mentioning of his name was capable of bringing smiles to me and to other peoples’ faces along with great feelings of joy, laughter and overall happiness.

Whenever we did spend time together, which was typically during family get-togethers such as bar & bat mitzvahs, I recall him being the one often bringing up something extremely funny – which as a result, got all us riled up. It was the jokes, the laughter and the joy it brought that stood out to me.

Yale was a big fan of overnight camp, having spent time as a camper and counselor at Camp Northland (my old camp from 1999-2002) and the not too far away Camp White Pine, both just outside of Haliburton (cottage country in Ontario). Although we never crossed paths at camp, many of my own counselors were good friends with him. Whenever people at camp would find out my last name, they’d ask me if I was related to Yale. When I responded with a yes, the most typical response was one of , “Seriously! Your cousin is Yale? That guy is awesome!” and of the sort. Being Yale’s cousin gave me a sense of being cool, and gave people a reason to give me the time of day.

One of the things I was told about Yale was his reputation of being a prankster. I’m not sure if this was him (I’m pretty sure, but I can’t be 100% sure…), but I was told of a particular prank he did that had everyone in tears. While being a counselor at camp, he would wait for campers to go to sleep, he would take a rope and tie it around the leg or arm of a camper sleeping in a top bunk, throw the rest of the rope over a rafter, and tie the other side of the rope to an arm or leg of another camper sleeping in a bottom bunk. And then sit there, watching the body parts move around all over the place while the kids were sleeping.

My last personal memory came at the beginning of the 2002 summer, in May, when both were coincidentally assigned to the same blow-up ride while volunteering at the UJA Walkathon at Skydome. It was pretty much laughter the entire afternoon as we threw children around on the float, telling them to jump in various unsafe ways, and most likely passing off our work to other volunteers while we hung out in the Playstation 2 truck playing video games.

I’m certain everyone who knew and got to spend time with Yale had similar memories.  It is only fitting we remember those good times and share them. I’m sure Yale is smiling and laughing from heaven along with us.


2 thoughts on “Remembering my cousin, Yale Pilz (1982-2002)”

  1. Sad tragic event, sorry to hear about it.
    But I am glad you got to share some beautiful memories with your cousin.

  2. Thanks for the touching post. It was spot on, Yale was just the nicest, funniest guy. I was Yale’s co-counsellor at White Pine in 2001, and yes, we did “puppets” or maybe marionettes it was called, and a lot more! Seriously. That was nothing. Please, message me for more stories I’d be truly more than happy to share. Not here though…


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