Amherst Magazine
William Robert Kershlis '54

Bill Kershlis died October 30, 2007, as a result of a motor vehicle accident in Grant’s Pass, OR.

I first got to know Bill while playing freshman baseball. We were both pitchers, Bill far better than I. The others were Fuzzy Fendrick and Hans Schreiber. Bill and Fuzzy went on to play three more years of varsity baseball. Fuzzy e-mailed the following: “I was so sorry to hear about Bill. I often wondered at Reunions about him. I can’t shed a lot of light on him, even though we spent a lot of time together at baseball practices. I passed my first driving class and got my license in his car since my family didn’t have a car in Brooklyn. He was generous about lending it out for trips to neighboring women’s colleges. On the baseball field he was your typical lefty, as Coach Paul Eckley used to call him. He wasn’t overpowering but had a lot of stuff and is best described as a crafty left hander.” Mo Dickerman also recalls Bill’s love of baseball, stating that, “Lefty and I went down to the diamond regularly to bat the ball around—often just the two of us. I spent a lot of time in the bullpen warming up Bill for four years.”

Bill and I became members of Phi Delta Theta in the spring of 1951. In our senior year, we were roommates, but Bill seldom stayed at Phi Delt. He was a resident of Amherst and lived most of the time at home. Bill didn’t graduate with our Class. Baseball interfered with his honors thesis in chemistry, and he graduated with 1955. I lost track of him after college even though I tried to contact him on many occasions. Bill was a private person.

Bill married in 1960 and divorced in 1979. I talked to his former wife, Priscilla, and his son, Erik. Both gave me information for this remembrance. He also leaves a daughter, Kimberly, and a grandson, Nathaniel, all living in New Hampshire. At the time of his death, Bill lived in Grant’s Pass, OR.

Bill lived an eventful life. After Amherst, he went to OCS in Newport and served three years with a carrier group. He left the US Navy and went to MIT for a year of grad school in chemistry. But the flying bug had bit him, and he went to US Navy flight training in Pensacola and became a naval aviator. Once again, he left active duty and attended Cornell. He joined the US Air Force Air National Guard in Syracuse, NY, and flew C5-A Galaxies. After that, he continued as a commercial pilot and reservist and was activated for both the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War. He retired in 1993 as a Lt. Colonel and moved to Grant’s Pass, where he indulged his second and third passions: hunting and fishing. He was also an avid gardener. Bill and his son, Erik, spent much time together hunting and fishing. Erik stated, “I can say without a lot of exaggeration that he probably hunted just about everything that walked or crawled at one time or another and caught every kind of fish that America’s lakes and streams have to offer.”

Our Class and Amherst have lost another interesting member.

—Bill Wilcox ’54

 

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