Amherst Magazine
Abbot Stott Gaunt '58

Toby Gaunt was born with a bad heart, and it troubled and threatened him in one way or another all his life. He had his third major cardiac surgery this past January; that was successful in itself, but complications from the hospital stay hit him hard. He suffered a massive staphylococcus infection, which his diabetes masked until it was too late to defeat it, and he died on March 30, 2006.

Toby was born on July 4, 1936, and he attended Methuen (MA) High School and Phillips Academy (Andover). At Amherst he majored in biology, and was a member of Kappa Theta and Sigma Xi. He was preceded at Amherst by his father ('31) and two great-uncles ('06, '14). He earned his Ph.D. degree at the University of Kansas in 1963. One of his students there was Sandra (Sandy) L. Lovett (Kansas, '64); they married in 1963. After some time at Middlebury College and SUNY (Buffalo), he joined the Department of Zoology at Ohio State University in Columbus in 1969, and advanced to Professor of Zoology in 1986. He liked working with students, especially teaching undergraduates, but he took early retirement in 1995, somewhat discouraged by what he called the increasing industrialization of education at Ohio State.

His scientific specialty was birds: their vocal mechanisms and functional anatomy. He collaborated on research projects with Sandy, also on the staff at Ohio State. He was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Ornithologists' Union, a member (president in 1981) of the Wilson Ornithological Society, and an active member of several other professional organizations. He was committed to professional service beyond teaching and research.

In retirement he continued his enthusiasm for bird watching (and listening). I had the pleasure of accompanying him and Sandy on several early-morning bird-walks during our class reunions; their skill was impressive (even intimidating). He liked to cook, and he liked to eat and drink well. Ever since boyhood he was keen on reading science fiction. He liked to fish, so he was delighted that Sandy gave him as his Christmas present in 2004 a stay at The Wilds, a nationally famous bass-fishing camp in Ohio. And he enjoyed the artistry and meticulousness of tieing his own flies (which, Sandy says, hooked "many a trout and bass" for him). In his Fortieth Reunion Letter he was eagerly anticipating a sailing trip with Sandy and some friends through the Society Islands to Bora-Bora; they achieved it in 1998.

Toby is survived by Sandy, by his late sister's two children and two grandchildren, and by lots of friends. He had been looking forward to our Fiftieth Reunion.

Bruce Warren '58

 

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