Another great limb from our Class of 1946 tree of life was severed when Tom Ehrgood passed away on March 2, 2007, in Lebanon, PA, where he was born on November 27, 1923. Tom enjoyed a rich and full life in Lebanon as a youth, attorney, father of a fine family and gentleman and friend who mastered the art of smiling and bringing smiles to others with unexcelled skill.
Moose Newman represented the Class of 1946 at Tom’s wake at his home on March 6. Moose, who from Amherst days forward was a close friend of Tom’s, must have been the first member of our Class to make his acquaintance, because as strangers, they accidentally sat across from each other on the train from New York to Northampton in June of 1942 while en route to Amherst. Having graduated from Deerfield Academy only a few weeks before, Tom knew the route well.
Tom matriculated at Amherst for the summer semester in 1942 as did the majority of our Class in order to acquire as many college credits as possible before entering military service. Our lives were punctuated in those days by uncertainty and the sounds of war in the South Pacific as well as from Russia, Britain and North Africa. Tom bunked in South College and pledged Psi Upsilon after the rushing season that autumn.
Amherst College was an amazing place to be during those days! Professor Packard was lecturing on history as only he could; Stanley King and C. Scott Porter were calling the shots from offices in Johnson Chapel; Rahar’s and Barselotti’s were serving ten cent glasses of beer to most of us; the sirens at Smith and Holyoke were never more tempting; the undefeated football season was probably the most exciting the Jeffs have ever enjoyed; and every week found additional members of our Class enlisting or being drafted to give their all for the “Red, White and Blue.” Amid all of this excitement Tom marched off to commence his personal war at Williams College (of all places!) with a large contingent of ’46ers in July 1943, where he earned his commission in the V-12 program after which he served with distinction in the Pacific Theater. And the poor Japanese never realized Tom was then commencing the trek to Nippon! He served on the destroyer escort USS Willis as well as several LCTs.
Some Amherst men have blue blood coursing through their veins, some have fine old red blood, but the Ehrgood family was unique. Their blood was purple. Practically all of the men in the family attended Amherst as a basic right of passage. The group included Tom’s father Allen ’11, brothers Harry ’36 and Peter ’41, and sons Tom ’73 and Dan ’77. Their love and devotion for the big “A” during the twentieth century is probably unparalleled except possibly by the Eatons or the Estys. Maybe it is requisite to have your surname begin with the letter “E” if you wish to have a large family representation attend the “Fairest College of them all!”
Tom returned to Amherst in 1946 after WWII and graduated as a history major in 1947, along with many other original members of the Class of ’46. He roomed at Psi U during those years with classmates Bob Seaver, Mo Diefendorf and Ed Ney, in a nondescript third floor “nest.” Moose says they rarely spoke about the war, studied a bit, had fun and played some fine hands of bridge. By far the best thing that happened to Tom during those years was his meeting a young lady over at Smith named Polly Carruthers, whom he married in 1948. In addition to the above-mentioned Tom and Dan, Mary, Ellen and Andrew joined the Ehrgood brood.
Tom earned a law degree from Dickinson College in 1951 and practiced law in until 2006. His legal career was punctuated and enhanced by a successful run in state politics, serving four terms in the Pennsylvania legislature as a representative and senator. You can wager your homestead that the citizens of Pennsylvania are in finer shape today because the Goff (no one seems to know the provenance of that nickname but it seems to fit our hero) donated years of service on their behalf.
Tom Ehrgood was a rare friend who will be sorely missed by his surviving classmates! All ’46ers extend their best wishes to Polly and the entire family. We thank them sincerely for sharing that wonderful guy with us for so many fine years.
—Woody Steinwart ’46