Amherst Magazine

Cambell Tatham '62

Submitted by Craig H. Morgan on Monday, 11/5/2012, at 6:55 PM

From The Olio

Tatham CAMPBELL TATHAM
Glendale Road, Ossining, New York
Prepared at Hotchkiss School
English
Kappa Theta, Corresponding Secretary
Basketball 1
Literary Magazine, Editor
WAMF, Pop Music Director

Campbell (Cam) Tatham '62, died October 28, 2008
(view alumni profile - Log-in required)

In Memory

Cam and I played some one-on-one basketball (guess who was better) and I was in the same Shakespeare class for one semester, I think. Prof. Baird always pronounced the first syllable of his name to rhyme with "wrath" instead of "faith," just as he pronounced the first syllable of Joe Brecher's name to rhyme with "wreck" and not "flesh."

I knew later on that Cam's interest in literature was chiefly for the audacious and defiant contemporary writers. We did have a few e-mail exchanges in the last two years about Thomas Pynchon, whose novels we both enjoyed. As I recall, Cam had studied Pynchon quite deeply and maybe even written an article about some of TP's esoterica.

But the most important effect he had on my life came the first time I met him. I was a novice jazz pianist, had only been "playing" about a year, but I listened constantly to a few musicians. Early freshman year, one day after lunch, on the message board in Valentine, I saw a note: "Jazz Record Sale--see Tatham & Jones" followed by an address in Morrow. I'd never been in Morrow.

They played astonishing music for me that afternoon in 1958; I don't think I'd ever heard Bill Evans before. I'm sure I'd never heard George Russell's compositions. And they knew about The School of Jazz, which had just held its first three-week session at Music Inn, in Lenox, MA. John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet was the Musical Director and the faculty for 1959 would include Bill Evans and George Russell. All this I got hanging out with Cam and Peter Jones and listening to the records I bought from them. There were other people in our class who liked (even played) jazz, but no one expanded my ears like these two. What a lucky day; what a lucky choice--to dine in East.

I went to Lenox the next summer and was so completely absorbed by George Russell's teachings that I took a year off from Amherst to study with him in New York.

Bill Evans was for several years my nearly exclusive model of jazz piano playing (many my age will tell you the same thing). During that year in New York, I gained a friend whom Cam and Peter directed to call me up; the three had been at Hotchkiss together. This man has been a close, close buddy since 1960.

I am extraordinarily fortunate that I found a kind of music that I could be committed to and that has breathed life into my every day.

These good things might have happened without Cam and Peter; but they might not have.

David Lahm '63

 

Here is an obituary from the Milwaukee Journal ---

Campbell Tatham, 68, died October 28, 2008, at his home, surrounded by family, after a courageous battle with brain cancer. A professor at UW-Milwaukee for over 35 years, Cam was a pivotal mentor and an active UWM advocate in many other capacities. He was also a well-published critic of post-modern fiction. While most prominently and academic, Cam's humor, intregity and passions helped define him. Cam is survived by his devoted wife of 28 years, Lynn, and their children, Benjamin and Jocelynn; children Greg, Anne, Rebecca, Holly and Jessica, and five grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Charles Tatham III.
Here is a note from a Hotchkiss classmate --
Cam Tatham, an outstanding member of the class of 1958, lost a one-and-a-half-year fight with brain cancer on October 29th. He graduauted Cum Laude from Hotchkiss and went on to graduate Cum Laude from Amherst. From there he became a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, first at Madision and then at Milwaukee. His students and friends could not help but benefit from his incisive intelligence and dedication to literature. Until the last stages of his disease he worried about whether or not he would be able to teach next term. Unfortunately for him and his students, he was not. He told me not long before he died that Clint Ely was his inspiration, dedicated and enthusiastic as Mr. Ely was, to pursue a career in teaching. I have lost a brilliant, challenging and cherished friend.

Walter Jamieson Jr

And finally, here is a link to a wonderful online obituary (scroll down a bit).

Tatham

If you have memories to add, please email them to our Class Secretary, Larry Beck (beckl1md@gmail.com) with a copy to craighmorgan@gmail.com. Thanks!