Early last week, Miles Applebaum, a Temple student on medical leave, left his family home in Armonk, New York to go to work.
“He said, ‘Goodbye, I’m going to work. I love you,’” his father, Ed Applebaum, told the Huffington Post.
He didn’t return that night for dinner. His distraught family conducted a search for its missing son.
On Oct. 3, the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that a body found in the Glazier Preserve in New Castle, New York was Miles’. While the cause of his death has yet to be determined, Westchester County police told the Inquirer there were no signs of foul play.
Miles, 21, suffered from clinical depression and suicidal thoughts, his father said. Miles was a junior jazz studies major with a guitar concentration at the Boyer College of Music.
His funeral was held on Sunday at Congregation B’nai Yisrael in Armonk, New York. A jazz combo played some of Miles’ favorite tunes as more than 500 people filled the synagogue.
Family and friends shared condolences, but they also shared Miles’ poems, music and laughter. Miles’ family said he had been creatively inclined his whole life.
“Music is the cure,” Stanley Applebaum, Miles’ grandfather, read at the funeral. The line came from one of Miles’ original poems.
Miles studied at the Lagond Music School in Elmsford, New York prior to his arrival at Temple. Charlie Lagond, the music director at the school, described Miles as one of the most dedicated and passionate students the school had seen. During his leave of absence, Miles worked at the Lagond studio.
At Temple, Miles continued to grow musically. He was involved in several Boyer jazz ensembles and combos. In addition, he played gigs around the city, sometimes solo, sometimes accompanying friends and sometimes with his funk group, Radioactive Zebra. During his final semester at Temple, Fall 2013, Miles studied abroad at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.
Family members said Miles dreamed of being a successful musician and playing the same venues as the artists he admired, which ranged from jazz musicians of the 1940s and ‘50s to modern rock outfits like The Strokes.
But he was already successful in his own right – his aunt, Eve Applebaum-Dominick, said his friends and family deeply appreciated the music Miles brought into their lives.
“Not many people have a loved one who can play some sweet music for them at home at any time,” she said.
His friends and family recollected fond moments of spontaneous creativity with Miles, both musically and otherwise.
“[When going for a run], he’d run around cars and make funny animal noises,” said his friend Kathryn Marshall, a senior vocal performance major. She said when they ran, he always went at her pace, despite her frequent bouts of runners’ asthma.
“He was a fierce friend,” Marshall said.
A graduate of Byram Hills High School, Miles was an avid runner and athlete. He ran on the varsity track team, eventually making it to state finals.
His mother, Shari Applebaum, recalled Miles encouraging a student with special needs to continue running in high school. Max Applebaum, Miles’ brother, said Miles motivated him to try running when he struggled with his weight. Emily Waldman, a senior music education major, also shared a love for running and music with Miles.
“At first I was terrible, but Miles taught me how to run,” Waldman said. Once, the two ran from Temple to Walnut Street to attend a seminar on John Coltrane.
“His passion for life came out in running,” Marshall said. “He could run any time of day – in hurricanes, at two in the morning. He was game for any adventure.”
Miles’ parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers and friends summarized his gentle, caring spirit with a simple phrase: “Smiles for Miles.”
“Miles was just too sensitive for this world,” his aunt Eve said. “He struggled with finding his place … and feeling as if he fit. He did fit. We all loved him so dearly.”
Donations in Miles’ name can be made to the Lagond Music School, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Spring Lake Ranch.
Grace Holleran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @coupsdegrace.
Patricia Madej contributed reporting.