Robert H. Bidwell '41
Deceased July 6, 2014
Robert H. Bidwell, born in Winchester, Mass., passed away on July 6 just short of his 95th birthday. During his four years at Amherst, Bob was a member of the football and track teams; he graduated cum laude with honors in economics.
In 1942 he entered the U.S. Marine Corps and as captain oversaw a marine detachment assigned to maintain order aboard the U.S. Navy transport ship, the USS General R. L. Howze.
In 1948 he graduated from Columbia Law School in New York City and for more than 30 years worked for Exxon, specializing in antitrust and marketing law, eventually becoming general counsel for Exxon Chemical in New York City. After a short-lived retirement he was asked to join Church & Dwight, makers of Arm & Hammer products, as their general counsel.
After his second retirement he and his wife of 30 years, Constance Gorman, moved full time to Falmouth, Cape Cod, where he focused on community service, serving as president of the Amherst Association of Cape Cod and of many Falmouth organizations dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Falmouth’s historical assets. Over the years he received numerous honors and citations at the state and local level for his leadership and contributions to Falmouth’s rich character and economy.
Bob leaves his wife, Constance Gorman, and his children: Elizabeth Hearne and her husband, David Hearn; Robert Bidwell, Jr.; Howard Bidwell and his wife, Sharon Bidwell; and Todd Bidwell and his husband, Mark LiCalsi. He is also survived by his wife’s four children—Dr. Celia Schulz, Dr. Emily Schulz, Edith Schulz-Ogden and husband John Ogden and Daniel Gorman—as well as seven grandchildren, one great-grandchild and several nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his former wife, Virginia Moor.
When I graduated from Amherst 50 years ago, I was not sure what career path to pursue. I first worked for Socony-Vacuum as a salesman-in-training for six months until Pearl Harbor when I entered the Marine Corps. During my four years in the Corps, I developed an interest in the law. After the war, I went to Columbia Law School. At the end of my first semester, I wasn't so sure I had made the right decision but I decided to stick it out and that was a real turning point.
After five years in a "downtown" medium-sized law firm I decided to go into corporate practice and that was another decision I've always been glad about since it brought me into closer contact with the business world while still practicing Iaw. I joined the Exxon Law Department and spent fourteen years as a marketing attorney on the "oil side", fourteen years as General Counsel of Exxon Chemical and two years as General Counsel of Exxon Enterprises. After thirty very satisfying years with Exxon, I retired in December, 1982.
Meanwhile, on the home front, I was happily married to my first wife, Ginny, with four wonderful Children- Elizabeth, Robert Jr., Howard and Todd. I headed into my "post Exxon years", I felt very lucky that everything had gone so well and that I had not yet experienced any real adversity. This adversity came about a year after my retirement when my marriage of thirty years ended in divorce. This was the hardest experience I've ever had to face but the aid and support of my four children and friends helped me get through it. My second marriage to Connie gave me a new life to look forward to.
I went back to work as General Counsel of Church & Dwight Co. (Arm & Hammer products) in Princeton, N.J. I really enjoyed the less specialized practice of law in a smaller company and the opportunity to be more closely involved on the business side. After four years with C & D, I retired again (it was much easier the second time!). Connie and I moved from Pennington, N.J. to East Falmouth, Cape Cod, where we've become "year-rounders." We live in a lovely, old French, second empire Victorian home not far from Vineyard Sound.
The years of my second marriage have been very happy ones working on this old place and enjoying our combined eight children (of whom all but one live nearby) and our two grandchildren, Alex and Margaret. We're looking forward to my stepdaughter— Edith's marriage to John Ogden in June, 1991.
Connie and I look forward to seeing all of you at the 50th!