Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign mourned the sudden passing of Joshua Jared Hardy, a junior finance major who took a lead in his fraternity’s social action initiatives. The 21-year-old native of Palatine, a suburb northwest of Chicago, passed away April 28 in an area restaurant, apparently of natural causes.

According to those who worked with him, Hardy, who was chair of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity’s philanthropy committee, was as committed to helping others as he was to finding his niche in the business world.

“He was a very special boy,” said Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel, executive director of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center for Jewish Student Life at the university. “What he did in his 21 years is more than many people accomplish in a lifetime.

Though he wasn’t Jewish, Hardy joined the predominantly-Jewish ZBT to be close to his childhood friends. Last year, he headed the fraternity’s Ally-oop for Autism project, a charity basketball tournament benefitting the Friendship Circle of Illinois, a Chabad-Lubavitch initiative that pairs teenage volunteers with children with special needs. He spent three months planning that fall event, recruiting some 200 participants.

Outside of school, he worked as a Trust Scholar at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and a senior consultant at Illinois Business Consulting.

As news spread of the student’s passing, Tiechtel counseled ZBT brothers, “a huge help that day,” according to one of Hardy’s friends.

Jacob Hurwith, a ZBT brother who chaired the Alley-oop event in 2007, remembered Hardy as “the busiest guy in the fraternity,” a tireless individual who was involved with at least five different campus organizations at any one time.

“You would always see him in his suit going to a different meeting,” said Hurwith. “He just wanted to help out in everything that he could.”

Rabbi Zelik Moscowitz, director of the Friendship Circle of Illinois, said that in hosting events, Hardy “worried about all of the little details.” At the basketball tournament, he insisted that participants be provided breakfast, lunch and coffee.

“He made sure that everyone had a good time,” said Moscowitz. “His leading the event gave it a very personal touch, because he went out of his way to make accommodations for everyone.”

“Passionate and driven are the two greatest adjectives that I could use to describe Jared,” longtime friend Daniel Slavicek told The Daily Illini.

Tiechtel said that in conversations with Hardy’s friends, he saw a lesson in how the student lived his life.

“We can really learn from his dedication to help others,” said the rabbi. “He made an impact on so many in such a short time.”