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MURRAY — An improv group at a local school decided to donate proceeds from a performance this week to an alumnus who recently passed away.
Robert Harsh, 19, died Nov. 22 when he was hit by a car while walking in Taylorsville.
Harsh had graduated from American International School of Utah (AISU), a charter school in Murray.
At a performance on Tuesday, Dec. 5, members of the Dragon’s Breath improv team at the school decided to dedicate the show to Harsh and donate proceeds from the show to his family.
“He was a really close friend to a lot of us,” Dragon’s Breath team member Truman Barnes said of Harsh. “When we heard that he had passed away, we had the idea to dedicate the money from the show and donate it.”
Though he wasn’t involved with the improv team, students at AISU got to know Harsh through his involvement in other performing arts, Barnes said. Harsh performed in several musicals at the school and was an “amazing” dancer on the school’s ballroom dance team, Barnes said.
Robert’s younger brother Jesse Harsh was at the Dragon’s Breath performance on Tuesday that was dedicated to Robert. He said the show was “really moving.”
“It was actually the first time the school itself and the students came together to celebrate Robert’s life,” Jesse Harsh said. “It was in a happy and fun way. … I really appreciate what they did.”
Jesse Harsh said Robert had taken a few improv classes at AISU and became good friends with the teacher, Megan Sticht.
Robert excelled in the performing arts, Jesse Harsh said. “He was one of the best entertainers and performers,” Jesse Harsh said. “He had the biggest personality.”
Robert was the seventh of eight children in the Harsh family, and Jesse is the youngest. Jesse said his brother was someone you couldn’t hate. Robert was nice to everyone and always wanted to do the right thing, Jesse said.
“He just had that non-manipulative, innocent attitude toward everyone he met, and he never held a grudge,” Jesse Harsh said. “That’s what made him so lovable by everyone in school, even if you didn’t know him that well.”
Family and friends called Robert’s embraces “Robert’s Famous Hugs,” Jesse Harsh said. Barnes said Robert always knew when someone needed a hug or some comfort.
Dragon’s Breath team members are currently raising funds to take a trip to Chicago to see the renowned improv comedy group Second City.
Money from the performance Tuesday originally was set to go toward the Chicago trip, but that changed when the team found out Robert Harsh had passed away, Barnes said.
“This just seemed more important,” he said.
Jesse Harsh said his brother would be humbled if he knew that the group decided to dedicate their performance to him.
“He would think himself undeserving of it, but he would just be super humble about it,” Jesse Harsh said.