The rowing enthusiast who died in a Co Down road crash on Wednesday was “the most loved and respected member” of his university boat club, a club spokesman said.
Chris Rice died when his car was in a collision with a tractor on the Killyleagh Road near Saintfield.
The 28-year-old was a final year History & Archeology student at Queen’s in Belfast and hoped to become a teacher.
“Chris had a great passion for both volunteer coaching and social development within our club, and was the glue that held it together throughout competitive success and defeats with one eye always on the comical value,” his club colleague, a friend, said.
“Having come from a background of a gastronomy. Chris had an inspired attention to detail in whatever pursuit he followed.
“Between all this, Chris maintained an exemplary academic record whilst still finding time to support himself by working in a local restaurant, assisting in the care of his beloved parents, and being the most influential character for us as athletes and friends. We feel we speak for a lot of people when we say Chris was considered family by those that knew him well. He has made a lasting impression on all those that came to know him.
“He was a light in many people’s lives and the world will be a darker place in his absence.”