Business administration junior Brett Tyler passed away Oct. 23 in his Poly Canyon Village apartment. According to President Jeffrey Armstrong, Tyler passed of natural causes.
Tyler was vice president of marketing in the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs (CPE) Club. To his friends, he was best known for his puns, comedy videos on YouTube, and welcoming personality. On the whiteboard within the Hatchery, students wrote descriptions of Tyler, including phrases such as “renaissance man” and “out-of-the-box thinker.”
In response to Tyler’s passing, the Cal Poly Computer Engineering program and the Orfalea College of Business organized a letter writing campaign in the Hatchery Oct. 26. The letters will go to Tyler’s parents.
The following day, friends, family and students attended Tyler’s memorial on O’Neill Green at 3 p.m. At the memorial, there was another opportunity to write letters to Tyler’s parents. Tributes were presented by Associated Students, Inc. President Riley Nilsen, CPE Adviser and faculty member Jonathan York, Front Porch Campus Pastor Joel Drenckpohl and Armstrong. After, the community shared fond memories of Tyler. Friends and family spoke of him, his passion for entrepreneurship, and his inspirational personality.
Tyler’s mother, Karen Tyler, wanted students to understand that Tyler passed due to a small blood clot that obstructed an artery that feeds the heart muscle.
“It was very quick and he did not suffer. We had just had a really nice phone conversation with him where we were discussing having Thanksgiving at my brother’s cabin in Big Bear. We were all happy and looking forward to being together again. The last words we all said to each other were, ‘I love you,’” Karen said.
Below, family members and friends of Tyler share how they will remember him and how he impacted their lives:
Karen Tyler: Tyler’s mother. Given as an email to Mustang News.
“People are now asking, ‘Who was Brett?’ I can’t tell you the emotional parts, because then I’d be crying too hard to write. The best I can do for now is to give a thumbnail sketch of his life.
“At only four years old, after witnessing the 9/11 attacks on TV, Brett immediately put two and two together that his Auntie Heran could be in danger. Hysterically, he demanded that we call her right away to make sure she was OK. It was something that I thought was incredibly perceptive for a such a little kid.
“When Brett was six, he suddenly became obsessed with learning how to play the bugle. Santa kindly provided the bugle that Christmas. Brett was in seventh heaven learning to play his treasured bugle, until his baby teeth started to fall out in first grade. Whereupon his tutor gruffly told him, ‘Kid, you need teeth to play the bugle.’
“Reading then became a passion of Brett’s. He and I devoured the Harry Potter books, reading them back and forth to one another. His reading tastes quickly moved to military history, where he soon discovered that the adult section of the library had much more interesting stuff.
“In fourth grade, Brett decided that people were ignoring Pearl Harbor Day and that was not OK with him. So Brett took it upon himself to educate his class by creating a film showing a re-creation of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His dad and I were not very proficient with our video camera, so we just handed it over to him, with the instruction booklet and said, ‘Good luck.’ Amazingly, using only stop-motion technique since he had no idea how to edit, Brett created a small masterpiece using his plastic army soldiers, ships and absolutely unfettered creativity. This early success triggered a stronger interest in film-making and directing. Brett went on to make many wildly creative and hysterically funny movies with his friends. At twelve, he created his own YouTube channel, ‘harmlesskittywithuzi.’
“Making movies with his friends never stopped. We are still discovering clips that we have never seen before. His current YouTube handle, ‘Obviously Intended,’ has many of his short films, often incorporating Brett’s love of puns. Some of my favorites are his stand-up comedy routine about airplanes: ‘A ‘Plane’ Comedy Sketch,’ his ‘Fowl Play – Le Film Noir du Birds (avec des calembours),’ which has some incredible lighting effects, and my personal favorite: ‘The Great Catsby,’ filmed using almost all of our household pets.
“Brett learned rock climbing from his dad. Brett loved the absolute concentration necessary to solve the puzzles of each route. With his natural fearlessness and a long, lightweight, lanky body, he was a perfect fit for climbing. When he decided to go into the Boy Scouts, he chose our local Troop 319 based on their strong program of rock climbing. And yes, Brett did ‘Eagle out.’
“In high school, Brett joined our local Prom Plus Club. It’s a club dedicated to creating an edgy, but safe, after-prom all-night party. The club was full of exceptional young people who were very dedicated to giving back to their community. Brett seemed to be volunteering to help with various community events almost every week. He loved helping out and people quickly learned that he was one they could depend on.
“Brett and his father have always been natural public speakers. It’s one of many gifts they share. Brett was able to hone his skills in the Speech and Debate club. That’s where Brett got first interested in dressing professionally, creating his signature style that we all know and love.
“Upon arriving at Cal Poly, Brett immediately joined the [Cal Poly] Entrepreneurs Club on campus, making many fine friendships along the way. He enjoyed several long road trips with friends covering six or seven different states along the way. Later Brett spent a semester in London, where he instantly felt in his element with the British style of dress. Afterward, he traveled solo through Europe for another month. Last summer, Brett threw together a ridiculously ballsy resume and landed a position writing a complete business plan for a new start-up company.
“Brett managed to pack a lot into his tragically too-short life. He was really looking forward to turning 21, but in a devastating twist of fate, we ended up taking him home in a small box on his birthday.”
Chad Lagomarsino: Biomedical engineering senior and Tyler’s friend. Taken from Lagomarsino’s eulogy for Tyler.
“I am one of a thousand people that Brett Beer Tyler had illuminated with his radiant energy, relentless drive and exceptionally well-timed puns. Brett and I met three years ago leaning over hot mugs of coffee, my arms widely stretched out as I explained outlandish business ideas while Brett sat calmly, legs crossed in his signature three-piece suit, nodding occasionally — looking the perfect part of a dashing entrepreneur — as he scribbled ferociously in his leather-bound notebook. Just as I had started laughing at the absurdity of my ideas, Brett ripped the page right out of his notebook, looked me square in the eye and said ‘Well c’mon, what’s stopping you?’ He had drafted a beautiful, cohesive business plan right there — on the spot. He wasn’t going to let my ideas fade unrealized. He was going to put them into action. He was a friend who had that rare, intriguing gift of a sharp mind that drew you into the million-fold possibilities of the world — only to throw you off by cracking some wacky pun about birds, or laundry detergent or really anything he could get his hands on. But that’s what was so special about Brett! Every conversation was a tango of wits, and he was always five steps ahead of everyone. But he never used that position to take advantage of us. No, no. He let us climb on his shoulders and see things we hadn’t imagined, laughing the whole time. He was our elevator, pushing our buttons, right on so many levels, never letting us down, always going up in the world!
“I miss Brett’s puns. I miss his humor. It had such depth, such character. It drove us crazy but it planted seeds in our brains. Seeds that we must now nurture with our love as we carry Brett with us wherever we go. Entrepreneurs: when you find yourselves in the hot seat pitching your industry-disrupting innovations, know that Brett is standing tall with you, staring down with intention the gatekeepers to your goals, ready with a fresh case of Mate and a witty one-liner to keep you from backing down. Travelers: when [you] find yourselves miles from home, catching a fragment of an old-time classic over the static of your car radio, know that Brett is crossing those canyon badlands with you, perusing his latest discovery from last town’s corner antique store. We will not let Brett’s lessons fade unrealized. We will carry Brett with us — along cityscapes and dusty trails, in the tapestry of our music and in the engine of our businesses. We will show you with our lives the legacy Brett has left behind and how much his time on Earth mattered.”
Sierra Scolaro: CPE vice president of events, business administration junior and Tyler’s friend.
“To put it simply, Brett was really just an inspiration to everyone he crossed paths with. Whether you knew him really well and talk to him every day or whether you met him once or twice, he was just that memorable, he was just always working on something. He was such a hard worker. Whether it was stuff for the entrepreneur club or for classes or just a wacky idea, he was going places. And if you had an idea of your own, he was so willing to just approach you and say, ‘Tell me your idea!’ So you’d pitch it and he would just have this unconditional support.
“He had this air of confidence and this sense of approachability, like anyone could go up to him and he would be instant friends with you. He was a major factor in why I got into entrepreneurship club because he was so approachable and warm and welcoming and extremely memorable, I mean he was such a quirky dude! He was extremely funny, he’s got all these videos, he was always impeccably dressed like even going to the beach he would wear a nice dress shirt.
“I mean, I guess what I admired most about him is that he was always himself, in a world where people are always trying to be someone else or be someone different, he was always himself and that was enough. He was quirky, funny, inspiring, heartwarming, fun-loving Brett. And the world definitely won’t be the same without him, but I think he’s touched the lives of so many people and inspired so many people that even though he is not here anymore, I am still going to live by all his pieces of advice and all the words he said. He was just that amazing of a friend, and had that long-lasting impression, on everyone.”
Kimberly Dzwonkas: Landscape architecture junior and Brett’s friend. Given as an email to Mustang News.
“I meet Brett my first year of college and was immediately in awe of his ability to work a pun into every other sentence he spoke. He was a unique individual … always put together and dressing sharp for no particular reason. I always knew when Cal Poly had restocked on dark chocolate milk because Brett would share it on his Snapchat then proceeded to buy all of it.
“Our friend group grew very close thanks to late nights watching ridiculous YouTube videos found from all corners of the Internet. Out of the countless videos we watched, my favorite[s] were the ones Brett had made himself. He had very creatively worked his puns into well-done short films, my favorite being ‘Fowl Play’ on his channel, ‘Obviously Intended.’ I will never forget rolling my eyes behind the camera while filming his cringe-y puns or him teaching me Photoshop for the first time, creating, you guessed it, ridiculous pictures. There was never a dull moment with Brett in the room and the world has suddenly gotten a lot less funnier with him not in it.”
James Schulte, CPE vice president of meetings, business administration senior and Brett’s friend. Given as an email to Mustang News.
“Brett was an inspirational visionary. He was constantly bringing his ideas to life and wholeheartedly dedicated himself to perfecting every project he undertook. His work ethic was next-level and contagious. However hard Brett worked, he always managed to put people, friends and family first. He never failed to crack a wise pun to lessen stressful or difficult situations. He had a huge heart, and he was taken far too soon. The entrepreneurship and greater Cal Poly community will never forget him, and will always love him.”
For anyone who is in need of support or someone to talk to, counseling services are free to students and can be reached at the number 805-756-2511 or in the Health Center.
The letters from Tyler’s family and friends have been edited to match Associated Press style. Schulte, Scolaro and Karen sent a collection of photos of Tyler to Mustang News. We have included some of them below.