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Ivan D. Dimitrov, of Sofia and Senior House, dies at 20

Ivan D. Dimitrov
Ivan D. Dimitrov

Ivan D. Dimitrov, an undergraduate from Sofia, Bulgaria, who was known among friends for his positive nature and passion for life, died on Saturday, April 21, as a result of injuries from a motorcycle crash.

Dimitrov, 20, was fatally injured at about 3:30 a.m. when he lost control of his 1998 Kawasaki 600 motorcycle on the Fenway exit ramp off Storrow Drive east in Boston, news reports said.

Dimitrov had had plans to go to New York City on Saturday night to hear Bulgarian folk music star Milko Kalaydzhiev, according to friends in Senior House, where Dimitrov lived since coming to MIT last September.

When he arrived on campus, Dimitrov quickly immersed himself in the close-knit Bulgarian community here, inspiring other students with his infectious good humor and ingenuity for pranks, said a friend and housemate, Illiya Tsekov, a junior in mechanical engineering.

He was a fan of all things Bulgarian, particularly its music and its professional soccer team, CSKA, said his friend Ivan Z. Dimitrov, a sophomore in electrical engineering and computer science. The two men (no relation), who had been friends since high school in Sofia, were both members of the CSKA fan club and went to many soccer games together.

"He was very special. He was always happy. He set goals for himself and he got them: He wanted to be a croupier last summer, so he did that. He wanted to own a motorcycle, so he did that," said Dimitrov, adding, "He read all the safety manuals. He was a careful driver."

Both Tsekov and Dimitrov recalled their friend's capacity to see the potential for humor or high spirits in any situation. It was his idea, they noted, to "claim the suite for Bulgaria, complete with barricades, flags and plastic swords" as a prank on new students. He also gave everyone nicknames, they said.

While his successes in math provided him the opportunity to travel widely--he went to Mexico, Greece, Cuba and Russia, they said--his focus remained on returning to Sofia and buying property in the neighborhood where he grew up.

He "didn't want to make a lot of money--just enough to live and enjoy life," said his friends.

Dimitrov is survived by his mother, Neli, a hotel administrator, his father, Dimiter, owner of a commercial cleaning business, and his younger brother, Dani, all of Sofia.

A memorial service will be held at MIT on Saturday. The funeral will be in Sofia.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 25, 2007 (download PDF).

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