Amherst Magazine

James C. German Jr. ’64

Deceased February 8, 2009

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In Memory

It literally seems like yesterday when Jim and I were part of the Fourth Floor Stearns Gang as lowly freshmen in the fall of 1960. We both struggled, surrounded by high school and prep school academic stars—me with history, Jim with math. The high point of freshman year was probably persuading the Phi Delt brothers to accept an entire group of us as pledges (about a dozen, as I recall); all or none. The low point? I can’t remember whether we ever managed to help Jim over the Arnie Arons hurdles the second time or whether he received a rare pass from the deanery, but I do know that he went on after graduation to become an outstanding history professor due at least in part to Amherst’s inspiring and sometimes entertaining history faculty. Jim’s emphasis as a teacher was on the entertaining and anecdotal aspects of history.

During our last two years, Jim and I were active in communicating with the outside world: Jim as a star at WAMF in the basement of that venerable building on the north side of the Quad, now bulldozed, and me as the undergrad chairman of the news bureau sending out late-night teletypes (teletypes?) from the basement of the equally ancient building next to our fraternity, under the mentoring of Bud Hewlett and Peter Schrag. Our paths crossed often to compare notes even though I was living in Pratt as a senior.

We lost touch in recent years, but I still remember visiting his modest digs in South Jersey some time ago, when he prepared a pasta dinner using mussels he had harvested from his own pier—a meal dear to my heart because of my roots on Maryland’s eastern shore. He will be missed by his friends, family and former students.

Albert S. "Buck" Farver Jr. ’64

 

On Sunday, February 8, at 9:30 p.m., my dad lost a 15-month battle with lung cancer.  Since he was a proud alumni, I wanted you to all know of his passing.

For 14 and  a half months of that battle, his health held up remarkably well.  His cancer responded to treatment and he suffered little (if any) side effects from chemotherapy.  He had beaten his “months to live” diagnosis months ago.  He was able to take an extended visit with my mother in Florida that they had planned.  He spent the last two months there, including a visit with Collier, Miles, Dana and me for Christmas.  Indeed, just last Sunday he was watching the Steelers and Cardinals play at a Superbowl party.

So it was only in this last week that his health took a decline for the worse.  But it was a dramatic and steep decline.  Yet even as his health was fast failing him, there were glimpses of the man we all love -- with his ear permanently attuned to the world around him.  His last word was “Obama,” clearly a fragment of a sentence or thought that I will always wonder how it ended.

I’d like to think that he ended this battle with cancer as he would have wanted to, and as fit with his personality.  He did not allow the time he had to become consumed with his illness.  When the end came, it was succinct and to the point.

Per my father’s request, there will be no formal, public memorial service to which to direct flowers.  We’re planning a family gathering to scatter ashes later this summer.  But we do not need flowers to know that you wish him and us well.

Key Hill, daughter of James German

I can picture Jim now as a freshman in Stearns, enthusiastic, energetic, friendly, fun and young ... a memory that's been with me all this time, and which will remain.

Rich Podell '64

 

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