Amherst Magazine

Henry J. Koster '38

Deceased July 23, 2011
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Henry J. Koster

A football stalwart in college, athletic through the years, Henry, like several in our class, became a victim of Alzheimer’s. He died July 23, 2011, in the Montrose, N.Y., Veterans Hospital, aged 96, at that time our oldest classmate.

His wife of 70 years, Dorothy Boyce, died 10 months earlier and both are buried at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, N.Y., in his native Westchester County, where he lived most of his life.

In WWII, Henry served with the Army Corps of Engineers, climaxing with the occupation of Japan. After that, his entire career was with W. T. Grant Company as a buyer. Founded in 1906 as a “25-Cent-Store” and growing to an impressive nationwide chain, Grant went bankrupt in 1979 in what Time magazine then described as the second biggest U. S. company ever to fail. (The first was Penn Central.) Analysts blamed the debacle on irresponsible extension of credit.

In retirement, Henry played racquet sports and golf at his Scarsdale club the year around. When last a class secretary spoke to him in the mid-2000s, before the onset of his disease, he had just come off the paddle courts. Besides lettering in football, he also played freshman basketball at Amherst, where he belonged to Delta Kappa Epsilon and was elected to Sphinx. He majored in economics and German and also got a M.S. in business at New York University in 1949.

Henry was survived by five daughters, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His daughters are known as “the Five Ds” from their names: Dorothy, Deborah, Denise, Diane and Dorinda. Asked whose idea that was, Deborah said, “My mother,” who, of course, was Dorothy.

George Bria ’38

 

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