Amherst Magazine
Robert D. Dills '43

Few people in a lifetime experience the special friendship I shared with Bob for seventy years.  “Slim,” as I called him, and I grew up in the same small community of Pelham, NY, a suburb of New York City.  We were in the same class at Pelham Memorial High School.  He was editor of the school newspaper and I was the sports editor.  In our senior year, he was voted “Best Dressed,” and I was supposed to have been “Handsomest.”

During that senior year, in 1939, in one of those events I since look back on as such a factor in my life, I made a trip to Amherst with Slim and his father.  Slim had scheduled an interview at the College Office of Admission.  He casually asked me to go with them.  At that point, I hadn’t yet thought of college and had never heard of Amherst.  After his interview, he turned to me and said, “Teich, why don’t you go in there.”  We returned to Pelham and, sometime later, both of us applied for admission.

Our freshman year, we roomed together in Pratt.  We no sooner had arrived than we entered “Rush.”  As we went from one fraternity to another, I became more and more confused and frightened.  I recall being “pledged” by several houses but had no idea what to do.  Slim, due to earlier contacts at summer camp, joined Psi U and gently but persuasively convinced me to join as well.

Later that year, Amherst won an important football game against one of our rivals.  It was the tradition then for the freshmen to tear down the goalposts.  We proceeded to do this, and the goalpost came down on top of Slim and fractured his shoulder.  He was a “hero.”

Another memory that stands out for me involved the days of “streakers.”  One Saturday night, enjoying a keg of beer, someone raised the “dare” of who would streak across the commons from the Psi U lounge to the DU house and back.  We all put money in a hat, and to my surprise, completely out of character, Slim said, “You guys are all chickens.  I’ll do it.”  He opened the door and ran naked across and back.  It was a very cold early December night.  When he returned, we locked the door and wouldn’t let him in.  I remember vividly him pounding on the door, yelling, “Let me in, let me in.  I’m freezing out here.”

Later, we both enrolled in the V-12 program and, after midshipmen’s school, received our ensign commissions.  Slim’s orders took him to an LST (Landing Ship, Tank), where he eventually became an executive officer—i.e., second in command.  I ended up in San Diego.

We met up again for a year together at Columbia Univ. business school, where we both left after a very unsatisfactory one year.  Slim found a job in a key position with General Foods as a representative to large supermarket chains.

Geographically, our careers separated.  Slim lived in Connecticut, and he and his wife Jean traveled extensively for General Foods.  I moved to Houston and then to Brazil for ten years.  Bob, Jean, my wife, Jacqueline, and I, did make a one day trip to Amherst for our 5th Reunion.
In addition to Jean, Slim is survived by a son, Rick; two daughters, Barbara Dills and Peggy Kelter; and four grandchildren.

To all of them, the Class and I send our condolences.  Slim was such an important part of my life, and I am thankful for all the memories.

—Richard Teichgraeber, Jr. ’43

 

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