Updated: Monday, October 30, 2017, 4:23 PM
Conor Patrick Devlin, 25, of Bryn Mawr, an accomplished law student with a passion for Chinese language and culture, died Oct. 27 of unknown causes at his apartment in Rosemont.
Mr. Devlin was found unresponsive by a family member. The Delaware County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy and ruled the cause of death as pending while further study is done.
Mr. Devlin aspired to work in the U.S. State Department in Chinese Affairs. To prepare, he pursued law degrees in the United States and China under a partnership between Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law and Tsinghua University in Beijing.
He earned a master of Chinese law in 2016 and completed a law degree at Temple earlier this year.
To gain experience, Mr. Devlin worked as an intern for two law firms in China, as well as the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in Norristown, the latter during the summer of 2015.
“Conor had a promising future,” said District Attorney Kevin R. Steele. “To see him die so young is very sad, and my heart goes out to the family.”
At the time of his death, he was preparing to take the Pennsylvania Bar examination, said his father, John Gerard Devlin, also a lawyer. “He was a forward-moving, positive-thinking individual,” his father said.
Last year, Mr. Devlin collaborated in China on an article with Wei Huang and Wendy Zhou, detailing certain aspects of Chinese antitrust law and how it might affect the automobile industry. He was working on a similar article for the Economist magazine, his father said.
As news of Mr. Devlin’s death circulated, scores of friends posted online. Sophia Al Rasheed, a law-school classmate, said: “He was kind and funny, and had accomplished so much in the short time I knew him. His travels inspired me to study abroad.”
Louis Thompson, the Temple law school administrator who arranged Mr. Devlin’s time at Tsinghua, posted: “He was such a pleasure to know. He was smart and kind, and every encounter with him, however brief, always left me feeling happy. Our staff in Beijing adored him. The enormity of his loss is beyond words. The world is a dimmer place without him.”
Born in Upland, Chester County, Mr. Devlin graduated as class president from Rosemont School of the Holy Child in 2006 and from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in 2010. It was while at “the Prep” that he became interested in all things Chinese, his father said. Fascinated by the culture, he learned Mandarin Chinese.
He was on the varsity crew team at the prep school, and cultivated a wide range of friends there. One of them was Colin Kane, with whom he rowed for two years. The two remained friends.
“He was coxswain in my boat,” Kane said. “He was one of the smartest, if not the smartest, person I have ever met. He had a great wit to him, and he put others before himself.”
In 2014, Mr. Devlin graduated from the University of Texas-Austin, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in business, economics, and Chinese language.
His best friend was perhaps his father. The pair took road trips together to Rhode Island, Washington and other destinations. “Conor and I were very close. He was a really, really good friend of mine,” his father said. “I am crushed, heartbroken.”
On his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Devlin said he cared about economic empowerment and human rights.
“Conor’s real contribution to this world was a strong sense of social justice and a strong sense of loyalty to his friends and family,” his father said. “He was a loving person who cared about people less fortunate than he was.”
When not studying, Mr. Devlin volunteered at the Franklin Institute. He enjoyed traveling to Ireland. Those he met doted on his brilliant mind and wonderful sense of humor, his father said.
Although he never married, Mr. Devlin had a girlfriend and liked to show friends pictures of his dog, a beagle-Labrador retriever named Tyrone.
A longtime member of St. Thomas of Villanova Church, Mr. Devlin assisted with the liturgy and tended the altar.
“He was a good young man and so is his family. We were neighbors at one time and we see them in church. I was shocked when I got the call,” said Ted Powers, of Stretch Funeral Home in Havertown, the company that made plans for the funeral.
Besides his father, Mr. Devlin is survived by his mother, Maureen Ann Devlin; sisters Caitlin Andreotta and Courtenay Baker; a brother, Colin; nieces and nephews; and his maternal grandfather John A. Borneman III.
A visitation will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30 and again starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, at St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the campus of Villanova University. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the church. Interment will follow at SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Springfield.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tenn. 38105.