Amherst Magazine

Kenneth H. Bacon ’66

Deceased August 15, 2009

NY Times Obituary

The Atlantic Obituary

Wall Street Journal Obituary


In Memory

Ken’s achievements at The Wall Street Journal, at the Pentagon and at Refugees International have been widely recognized. At his memorial service in Washington, colleagues spoke of his prowess, vitality and warmth, and his daughters Katie and Sarah stood together to deliver a loving tribute to their father. At the memorial service at Amherst, President Emeritus Peter Pouncey spoke eloquently of Ken’s courage. I could listen for hours, and if you search the Web, you will come away with a vivid sense, from the words of refugees and from the words of royalty, of how many lives Ken touched and to what good effect. 

Ken was a driven student, and over and over again his friends have remarked on his hunger for facts. He had a ravenous curiosity, a quest to reach beyond conventional discourse or conventional wisdom to touch the real. His was an adventurous mind and one not afraid of speaking in earnest.

It could be exasperating to those who respected Ken’s persuasive power—and who may have provoked his formidable capacity for ridicule—to see him rise above the fray. Though fully armed, he shunned partisan clashes because he believed that we could join him in a more elevated and serious discourse. He believed that we, too, could rise above our fascination with the convenient or the possible or the dramatic to share his devotion to the actual. He believed that our sympathies could kindle to join his efforts to recognize and heal suffering that the world conspires to ignore. It is an extraordinary faith he had in us: a tribute to his education at Amherst and a generous challenge to ours.

We will miss his friendship and his example, and the class extends its sympathies to Darcy, to Ken’s daughters Katie ’93 and Sarah ’98, to his brother Doug ’71, to his father Ted ’42 and to his many, many friends.

John B. Jacoby ’66