Amherst Magazine

Robert J. McKean Jr. '50

Deceased August 9, 2014

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50th Reunion Book Entry


In Memory

My dad, Bob, passed away on August 9, 2014, at the age of 88. His obituary was a bit of a curriculum vitae because he wrote it and he always thought like a lawyer. He was one of the lead banking attorneys in the financial rescues of New York City in 1974-75 and of the Chrysler Corporation in 1980-81.

He was an avid Yankee fan from the Bronx that served as valedictorian at A.B. Davis High School in Mount Vernon. He proudly served his country as a technical sergeant in the 286th Engineer Combat Battalion, serving in England, at the Battle of the Bulge in France, in Germany, and Austria.

Then, Bob fell in love with The College on the Hill, enjoying his intellectual pursuits, friends and roommates, and Chi Phi Fraternity. He received his B.A. summa cum laude in 1950, as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving his L.L.B., cum laude in 1953 from Harvard Law School, he joined the New York City law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, where he became a senior partner specializing in banking and finance law and a member of the management committee of the firm.

Once done with law school, Dad served on many Amherst committees, and he and my mom Jean, brothers Doug and Andy, sister Kathy and I enjoyed family trips to the Lord Jeff for football games against archrival Williams and commencements and reunions, since meetings often coincided. He received the college's Medal for Eminent Service in 1968 and in 1971 started his service on the Board of Trustees. He eventually became a Life Trustee and was proud to be a member of the select committee that recommended that the college become coeducational.

Bob served on the Five College Cooperation Committee with trustees from Smith College, Mt. Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and University of Massachusetts. He enjoyed being on the board of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and was a trustee emeritus there.

While a Rye, N.Y., resident from the 1960s through the 1980s, Bob was active in the city's community affairs, serving on various boards and as a trustee and elder at Rye Presbyterian Church. In his retirement, he loved traveling - sometimes with Amherst friends, singing double bass in the chorus, and drawing scenes from his many travels. He was supportive, open-minded, a lifelong Democrat, and proud of his Irish heritage.

Bob was buried at South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida. He was ignoring his doctor's prognosis and determined to be at his class' 65th reunion next spring ... but now he'll simply be there in spirit!

Lauren McKean (Amherst 1978-80)

50th Reunion

50 Robert McKean Jr.jpgI write this Reunion Note having just returned with my wife from a Norwegian Fjord Cruise with Ed and Jeannine Rowen (with whom we've travelled often).  It has given me a theme for my note and that is “gratitude”.

Last year we had to cancel a trip to Spain with Ed and Jeannine and Bill and Joan Young because I had a cancer removed (successfully) from my mouth and was laid pretty low by seven weeks of radiation.  It is great to be fully recovered and active again.

50 Robert McKean Jr 4.jpgI am grateful, too, for my long and fulfilling relationship with the College. I was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1971 and served as an active Trustee until l989. I am now privileged to be a Life Trustee. There have been momentous changes in Amherst over those years, and I am proud to have been a part of them.  Some of the most exciting days of my life have been spent working for the College, and I am especially pleased to have served with four classmates, Frank Austen. Spike Beitzel, Paul Bragdon and John Esty.

I married Sally Ament in 1990 and we are still on our honeymoon. I'm happy to report that our seven children (four of mine and three of hers) and five grandchildren (three of mine and two of hers) are all in good health, busy and happy. They all seem to be working too hard.

50 Robert McKean Jr 3.jpgSpeaking about work, I have been retired for 13 years after having practised law in New York City for 33 yean.  I loved being a Wall Street lawyer and can't imagine having done anything else.  But when I retired, I turned off the lights, closed the door and never looked back.  It was great, but nothing beats retirement.

Upon reflection, as an old G. L, it’s been “a good tour of duty”. 

50 Robert McKean Jr 2.jpg

 

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