A tradition at the college for many years, the Memorial Minute is a tribute written by members of the faculty and other members of the Amherst College community upon the death of a colleague.  Each “minute” is read by one of its authors at a regular meeting of the faculty and is followed by a moment of silence in honor of the deceased.  Memorial Minutes have been posted online since 2005, beginning with those from the prior decade.




David Lee Armacost, Professor of Mathematics, died March 10, 2021 in the Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. David was taken to the hospital because of a bad fall. While there, he tested positive for Covid-19 and did not recover.

David was a child of California, born in 1944 in Santa Monica. He attended Pomona College and then Stanford University for graduate work in Mathematics. His PhD was awarded in 1969, the same year he started at Amherst College. He and Gretchen Brunk married in 1977, eventually moving to Pelham. David retired in 2012 after 43 years of teaching.

David studied mathematical objects called locally compact abelian groups. Abelian groups are objects that are studied in abstract algebra, while local compactness is a property of topological spaces. Thus, the study of locally compact abelian groups lies at the intersection of two branches of mathematics, algebra and topology. David’s 1969 PhD dissertation studied these groups, often called “LCA groups.” He went on to write 12 papers on LCA groups, published between 1970 and 1986. His most satisfying collaboration was with his brother William, who earned his PhD a year before David. They wrote four papers between 1971 and 1978, a collaboration cut short by William’s untimely death due to cancer.

David’s other collaborator was Robert Bruner of the Amherst class of 1972. At that time, honors theses in mathematics were expository. Bob's thesis was the exception – he proved a theorem that resulted in a joint paper with David published in the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society. Bob recalls that David “showed me how to write in ideas rather than in calculations.” As far as we know, this was the first instance of an Amherst senior honors project in mathematics that led to published original research.

David’s study of LCA groups culminated in his 1981 monograph The Structure of Locally Compact Abelian Groups, which continues to be a standard reference in the field. To get a sense of David’s writing style, we quote from the preface:

“Indeed, from the point of view of algebra and topology alone, the theory of these groups displays a charm and elegance which some, myself included, have found irresistible.”

By “these groups”, he of course means “locally compact abelian groups”. He goes on to say:

“Before writing anything, I spent several years pondering what to present and how to mold the varied elements of the subject into a connected (or at least locally connected) narrative.”

Here we glimpse David’s sly sense of humor, much appreciated by his students. The book also illustrates the amazing breadth of his learning. Each chapter begins with a quote that introduces an idea relevant to the chapter. But the quotes are not from mathematics! Here are some examples:

  • For the chapter on preliminaries, the quote is from Pascal’s Pensées: “The last thing one   
    discovers in composing a work is what to put first.” The quote is in the original French.
  • There is a chapter on topological p-groups, where the letter “p” denotes a prime   
    number (divisible by only 1 and itself). The quote is from Shelley’s A Lament: “When will   
    return the glory of your prime?”
  • For the chapter on sufficiency conditions, the quote is “Satis quod sufficit” (an old Latin   
    saying whose translation is, roughly, “enough is enough”).
  • Finally, there is a chapter on homological algebra, with complex diagrams consisting of   
    objects connected by arrows. The quote is from Blake’s Milton: “Bring me my arrows.”

Other chapters include quotes from Samuel Johnson, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth and Saint Paul.

David’s facility with languages was legendary. For example, one time a student wrote the Latin phrase “We who are about to die salute you” on the board before a math exam. When David entered the room, he noticed what was on the board and corrected the Latin without saying a word. He then proceeded to hand out the exam. When David retired in 2012, Doug McVey of the class of 2000 told the following wonderful story about the languages David knew:

“When I was but a lowly freshman, I was treated to many impromptu conversations with Professor Armacost in his office on a great many subjects – from mathematics to the sciences to theology and back again. During these far-ranging discussions, he frequently retrieved one of these well-worn books from his shelf and turned to a passage and read aloud. Early on, I noticed that he often read just a bit haltingly – a few words per minute more slowly, and just fractionally less fluidly, than one might imagine a demonstrably brilliant professor might do when reading aloud. All at once, I discovered the reason for this – one day, when he was reading a passage from the Gospel of John, I noticed that he was reading from the Greek and translating on the fly. I realized that he had been translating Descartes from the French and Newton's Principia from the Latin just moments earlier. This epitomizes what I respect so much about Professor Armacost: he is a scholar in the classical sense, not limited by the confines of his primary field of study, well-read across many fields of study (in the original languages to boot!), and always generous of his time and expertise. His erudition, accessibility, and affability made it a true privilege to be counted among his students.”

Another language in David’s arsenal was Russian, which he learned as an undergraduate at Pomona. One semester a student told David that she was taking Russian, and the next time she came to his office hours, he greeted her in fluent Russian and gave her the Russian flash cards that he had used at Pomona. During the years of the cold war, he translated Russian mathematical papers into English for the American Mathematical Society. The Society had an active translation program to ensure that the excellent mathematics done in the USSR was available on our side of the Iron Curtain. David’s office was clearly a treasure trove. A fun example arose when a student from Poland was talking with David about the differences between Western European and Slavic languages. David did not speak Polish (finally, a language he didn’t know!), but he just happened to have an old Polish prayer book in his office that he gave to the student. On another occasion, David was interviewing a student who had applied for funding to study a tribe in South America. In the interview David asked if the applicant could manage in the relatively obscure language of the tribe. In reply, the student allowed that she or he could get by in the tongue. David then swung around in his chair, pulled from the shelf in his office a book in the language at issue, and asked for the translation of a passage. A few years later, David was chatting with David Cox about the German mathematician Leopold Kronecker. David reached into his shelves and gave the other David an original 1881 copy of Kronecker’s great paper on the foundations of arithmetic algebraic geometry. And yes, David knew German! David also helped several colleagues in the department with Latin translations for papers they were writing that delved into historical matters.

Anders Oberg, a visiting fellow from Sweden in our department, remembers David’s warm friendship and good advice about teaching. There were conversations about language, politics, and literature. David did not speak Swedish but mentioned that he knew enough Finnish (yet another language!) to have read the Kalevala in the original.

Anders also recalls conversations about teaching, in which David’s example encouraged him to be less afraid of talking to students, both in and out of the classroom. And this brings us to David’s greatest strength, which was his teaching. He was spectacular in the classroom, not in a flashy or self-important way but rather in the clarity and humor with which he presented mathematics. Many of his students have vivid memories of conversations during office hours, but they came to his office because of what happened in the classroom. He was somehow old- school, no-nonsense, gentle, and accessible all at the same time. It worked amazing well – even students who did poorly in his classes have fond memories of him.

We have mentioned David’s sense of humor, which he used to great effect in the classes he taught. Giving examples is not easy since you need to know some math to get the joke. In the field of analysis, Baron Augustin-Louis Cauchy made many fundamental contributions. One time in class, David said “Cauchy sequences, the Cauchy integral theorem, Cauchy‘s root test,” adding “Cauchy fan tutte, as they say.” With his deadpan delivery, it was even funnier.

Given David’s extensive knowledge of languages, it should be no surprise that he had a profound knowledge of English grammar. This led to many spirited discussions in department meetings. When including student comments in a tenure letter, how should we handle the grammatical errors they made? To sic or not to sic, that was the question. David had particularly strong opinions about the use of commas. One time, when David was department secretary, he got so upset that he wrote the minutes of the meeting as a two-page heroic poem describing how

The One whose Name is humbly writ below   
Inquired about a Comma that did throw   
His Mind into Confusion dark as night

(He found out later that the Comma was all right)

However, even David could make a mistake. One time, at a lunch with Janet Tobin and Anders Oberg, he claimed that the first word of “praying mantis” should be spelled with an “e”, not an “a”. Later that day he discovered his error and wrote Janet “I must say, that with regard to the praying mantis, I repent in dust and ashes.”

David was a very private person – not a social animal. He was also a bit of an iconoclast, with unconventional views on fluoridation and other matters. When Amherst began fluoridating its water, he and Gretchen moved to Pelham. He was also deeply skeptical of modern medicine and preferred the homeopathic approach. Needless to say, he was very knowledgeable and happy to give advice on a wide range of homeopathic remedies.

There is a lot more that could be said about David. We have discussed neither his knowledge of ancient Hebrew (another language!) nor his harpsichord, not to mention his dislike of central air conditioning and restrictions on smoking his pipe. And, as noted by Karel DeLeeuw, his PhD advisor, David was a gifted amateur botanist. When David retired, Debbie Steinig of the class of 1994 wrote a sketch that captures much of what we loved about David:

“His pipe, his elbow patches, and his gentlemanly demeanor may have come across as old-fashioned, but his gentle kindness, his humor, his intellectual passion, and his lifelong learning across disciplines are timeless exemplars.”

I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence and entered into the records of the college and that a copy be sent to David’s wife Gretchen.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert L. Benedetto   
Gregory S. Call   
David A. Cox   
Norton Starr   
Daniel J. Velleman

DUANE W. BAILEY (1936 - 1998)

Duane W. Bailey, the College's William J. Walker Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy, died unexpectedly in the early hours of the morning of October 27, 1998, in the Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. He had entered the hospital because of a painful though not seemingly mortal medical emergency, but his long-damaged heart, which had sustained for sixty-two years a life of extraordinary vigor and achievement, could go on no longer.

He was born on September 22, 1936, in Moscow, Idaho. The eldest of four brothers, he seems early to have assumed the role, which persisted throughout his life, of leader and helper to those who came after him. After an active boyhood on his parents' thriving farm in southern Washington, he entered Washington State College (now University) in Pullman, from which institution he was graduated three years later with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, the subject which was dearest to him among his many interests. He pursued graduate studies at the University of Oregon, from which he emerged four years later in 1961 with a doctorate in mathematics. His thesis dealt with the subject of Banach Algebras, in which he maintained a -keen interest throughout his life, notwithstanding the fact that he pursued a great many other mathematical subjects with remarkable energy and versatility. It was at the University of Oregon that he met his lifelong friend James Denton, who was later to join him on our faculty. It was also here that he met his future wife Leeta, whose constant loyalty and devotion gave him so much help and happiness. He leaves behind him, together with three fine sons, as well as our College community, grateful to him in so many ways for his tireless service and many acts of trustworthy counsel and friendly helpfulness.

After graduate school, Duane assumed a two-year instructorship at Yale. While at Yale he felt an increasing attraction to liberal arts institutions, and although tempted by an offer from Reed College in his native Northwest, he decided to come to Amherst, where he passed the remainder of his days. His energy and vision must have been early apparent since he was entrusted with the chairmanship of the Mathematics Department even before he had become a tenured member of the Faculty. It was during his early years at the College that he collaborated as an author of an ambitious and successful four-volume series of textbooks in calculus and linear algebra. He also participated in the development of a series of films on calculus for classroom instruction.

Duane's activities as a teacher were remarkably rich and varied. Despite the fact that his graduate training was in a branch of pure mathematics, he ventured as a teacher into an unusually broad variety of subjects, both pure and applied, ranging from real analysis and topology, which are central in the training of professional mathematicians, to numerical analysis and computer science, whose practical utility pervades so much of modern life.

In general, it may be said that he had two ways of teaching, each appropriate to the circumstances. In the more elementary courses, he adopted the time-honored lecture approach, laying a great emphasis on fundamental principles. He had a strong sense of tradition and the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. Often, when asked by students how he knew such and such a thing, he would reply that when he was young he had been shown it by his teacher and that now he was passing it on to them. At the same time, he took pains to show how the thing might have been arrived at through reflection and ingenuity.

In his more advanced courses, however, in particular, those designed for honors students, he employed a very different approach. Mathematicians are familiar with the so-called Moore Method, which derives its name from the distinguished topologist R.L. Moore, who cultivated it with legendary success. In this method, students are provided at the outset of the course with a few pages containing definitions and theorems. The work of the course amounts to this: The students are to ponder the definitions and prove the theorems, relying only upon themselves and the careful guidance of the instructor. No outside help is to be sought. As may be imagined, the work can be agonizingly slow and, in its way, painful. The instructor becomes something like the Socratic obstetrician, presiding over the successful birth of ideas. Very few teachers seem able to conduct such a class with success, and Duane was among them. what is required, aside from mastery of the subject, is steadfast patience, the intuition determining the time to speak and the time to refrain from speaking, and finally, the certain faith that the students will find within themselves the resourcefulness which leads from darkness to light. Duane employed his own version of the Moore Method for many years; not a few of our finest graduates have reported that these courses transformed them from mere learners into mathematicians. Duane's passing leaves us a challenge and a luminous example.

Duane had a complex personality. His actions were not always easy to predict, though his good intentions were never to be doubted. He could and would change his mind, sometimes abruptly, more often in the deliberate manner of one who never stopped growing in intellect. One of his heroes was the celebrated English mathematician G.H. Hardy (after whom he named his last beloved bulldog, still young and missing his master). In G.H. Hardy's view, mathematics was a purely intellectual endeavor, in its highest form devoid, and rightfully so, of all practical utility. He scorned the very idea that any of his mathematical work might one day find utilitarian application. Duane admired this elevated and anti-pragmatic view of his subject, so much so that his increasing involvement in computer science and technology was a source of wonder to some who did not at first perceive the many forces and interests that drove him. For Duane could love the heights of Parnassus and still be a very practical man. He raised bees and made honey and mead, which he would share with friends; he worked in wood; he studied and invested in the stock market; he investigated the laws of probability, partly by means of protracted poker seminars with close College buddies -he was meticulous in keeping score and seemed, on balance, to prefer winning to losing.

Not even Hardy's ghost, then, could keep Duane's practical bent from bursting through into his professional life. Duane had become interested in computers in his earlier years while working during the summers for General Electric. It became apparent to him sooner than to many others that computers would eventually permeate many aspects of American life, including Academia. Whereupon he came to the conclusion that computer science should have a curricular presence at the College. In 1979 he introduced Mathematics 15, the first course in computer science ever offered at Amherst. He taught this and other such courses for many years, even after the time Amherst had computer scientists of its own. Entirely self-taught, he acquired so much knowledge and experience that the College, both institutionally and on an individual basis, turned to him for help and advice, which he unstintingly provided. just as in his beekeeping days, townspeople would often seek him out when menaced by swarms of bees, so in later days would distraught colleagues, made despondent by misbehaving electrons, apply to him urgently for rescue.) In 1984 he became the College's coordinator for computer planning and discharged his duties with energy and distinction. In truth, we may say, paraphrasing Emerson, that computer science at Amherst is the lengthened shadow of Duane Bailey.

Duane served the College in many ways besides those hitherto mentioned. He was never a member of the College Council, for which he more than once expressed his relief, but he did serve with distinction on a good many committees. He was twice elected to the Committee of Six and performed his duties so faithfully that the entire College came to see him as a man to be relied upon for honest and informed advice. He also served in ways less well known. Duane, as we know, was a beekeeper; but more than this, he developed an avid interest in the literature of apiculture and over the years acquired a fine collection of such books, which he dearly prized. Indeed, he was a collector of many things he thought fine, and perhaps it was for this reason that he regularly participated as a judge in the College's annual book collection prize competition. John Lancaster, curator of Special Collections and also a judge in the competition, reports that Duane took especial delight both in the seriousness and in the whimsy and play of the mind exhibited by students in their choice of books.

Duane had a very strong sense of history and took pleasure in instructing himself in the lore of earlier days at Amherst. This is perhaps partly why he took such delight in cultivating the society of faculty members with long institutional memories, with whom he frequently met on convivial occasions. He saw himself very much as part of an age-old tradition. By the same token, he took younger colleagues under his wing, pointing out to them the way they should go, at the same time conveying the grateful impression that it was he who was being instructed by them, as indeed, given Duane's personality, was doubtless the case.

No one could know Duane for long without perceiving that he was a man of strong likes and dislikes. Some could change, but some were constant as the northern star. He liked to raise plants and often did so in his office. He liked to keep bees, but out of doors. He liked bulldogs; cats were another matter unless they had white whiskers. He admired Benjamin Franklin and for years had a portrait of him displayed in his office. He was fond of normal numbers, a taste restricted mostly to the tribe of mathematicians. A lover of music, he was a skilled player of the trombone, an instrument that lends harmony and support but does not crave the limelight. In his later years, he especially admired the music of Shostakovich. His love of restaurants of the most varied kinds is the stuff of legend. He liked red things: red houses, red cars, red peppers. This chromatic predilection did not quite extend to politics, which he followed avidly, and in his last years, he contributed witty and incisive essays to a well-known national political journal. He admired the art of printing, including finely executed financial documents; his contempt, however, for personalized bank checks decorated, as he would say, with "clowns, posies and pussy cats," justifies to some extent, we will admit, his spirited self-description as a "curmudgeon."

Duane was a man of unusual vigor. Of his mental energy, we have already spoken. But he was also endowed with extraordinary physical stamina. Though anything but a sportsman, he loved to be active. He could stay up late into the night working at one of his many projects and still arise early the next morning ready for a full day. His strenuous activity was dealt a sudden blow when, in his early forties, he suffered a serious heart attack. Characteristically, he fought back, learning everything he could about cardiology and cardiologists. After undergoing successful bypass' surgery, he was able to recover what in darker moments he feared he had lost forever--the capacity to teach and learn with the vim and enthusiasm of earlier days.

But the blessing of health was to elude him. Some five years ago, after surgery to remove a malignant growth, it was found that he had suffered serious neurological damage in one leg. This left him with permanent pain and restricted mobility. He took comfort in reading the book of Job, but the hoped-for help granted at last to the patriarch never came to him. Indeed, he was beset by other physical difficulties as well, to which a lesser man would sooner have succumbed. Because it was hard for him to remain upon his feet for long, he entered reluctantly on phased retirement. He carried on with his teaching, and despite persistent ill-health, he was able to complete, in collaboration with his son Duane, a professor of computer science at Williams College, a new and timely book on network languages. Indeed, despite increasing sensitivity to pain, he carried on with all his duties to the very end. Though, to paraphrase Matthew Arnold, stones might have wounded his feet, to us he was "still cheerful and helpful and firm."

A tree, it is said, is best measured when it is down. Now that Duane's life among us has come to an end and we bid our final farewell here in this room, which meant so much to him because it means so much to the College, we have been able to see and relate (perforce leaving much unsaid) many things about him that were perhaps not apparent to any one person who knew him. There is a poem of Whittier, better known a century ago than now, but known to Duane, named "Telling the Bees." The title refers to an old rural New England custom: whenever a death occurred in the family, the bees were duly informed and their hives decked in respectful mourning. And now we, in our institutional fashion, have honored the custom by telling of one of our own family who has, in Whittier's words, "gone on the journey we all must go. And though sad at his parting, we are consoled by the reflection that despite many troubles he could do so much that brought fulfillment to himself and gratitude to so many.

David L. Armacost, Ralph E. Beals, James Q. Denton, Richard D. Fink, Frank H. Westhoff

THEODORE BAIRD (1901 - 1996)

The late Theodore Baird of this faculty, Professor of English emeritus, who died after a brief illness on December 22 last at the age of 95, will not have been known personally to perhaps a majority of this assembly. He retired in 1969, during the presidency of Dr. Calvin Plimpton, with a final sabbatic leave and twenty-five more years of vigorous, productive, recreative freedom before him. These years he enjoyed with the zest that he brought to all occasions. "Outlive the bastards!" he had been heard to growl in private when finding himself at odds with one and another of the academic colleagues and administrators of his long day at Amherst from 1927 to 1969. He was an innovator, ahead of his time, always being told by someone that he was wrong. And outlive them he has, in one sense or another, literally or figuratively--and in that style of his, both ambitious and modest, which distinguishes him from any contemporary who may come to mind. Indeed, he promises to live on, justified in the writings of the newest generation of academic educators, who now refer, it appears, to the "era of Theodore Baird"; and who have less chance even than his contemporaries of appreciating just what he was about as a professor of English at this college--an irony not lost on him before his passing.

To undo the distance of twenty-five years of retired life, and more than as many again of the life of teaching, let us turn in the hope of immediacy to the language of a lyric poem. Here is Thomas Hardy in May 1909 remembering the late George Meredith:

Forty years back, when much had place   
That since has perished out of mind,    
I heard that voice and saw that face.

He spoke as one afoot will wind   
A morning horn ere men awake;   
His note was trenchant, turning kind.

He was of those whose wit can shake    
And riddle to the very core   
The counterfeits that Time will break....

Of late, when we two met once more,    
The luminous countenance and rare    
Shone just as forty years before.

So that, when now all tongues declare    
His shape unseen by his green hill,    
I scarce believe he sits not there.

No matter. Further and further still    
Through the world's vaporous vitiate air    
His words wing on--as live words will.

Theodore Baird loved words and the study of five words winging on. It was this love that made him for many years the teacher of a legendary course in Shakespeare's plays, as well as the discoverer of a highly original and fascinating way to teach English composition. "With Shakespeare," he said, anticipating the next thirty years of Shakespeare criticism, "you can bring in whatever you want to talk about, and I do. But what I love is the language." And what he taught, using the text edited by Kittredge, was the living language--not plots, or characters, or themes, or insights into the human heart, not cultural diversity, psychoanalysis, or even the art of theater--but the way words work, or sometimes seem not to work.

As well as the study of words, what Baird loved was the asking of questions. "What do you i1 o when you do History?" he asked the young James Merrill when he announced that he would not major in English. In the questions Baird asked, the answer itself remains somewhat in question and so does not deny the mystery that lies behind what words can say. The art of asking questions, the technique of framing what one has to say, not as instruction or information, but as a question to be considered or entertained--this art, this technique, was probably the most valuable of the several examples he set over three decades for his students and his junior colleagues and their students. Question and answer were certainly the life and soul of English 1-2, the now-famous required course in freshman composition which he invented and directed for more than twenty years. Summer after summer, it was he who spent his vacation "by his green hill" composing one of those elegant, fascinating, infuriating sequences of 31 questions plus final essay and final exam assignment. "The assignments" they were known as; and they constituted a very great effort of mental work for those who taught them, as well as for their author. They sit now in the college archives, a dazzling trove for the right archeologist. Even those laborers in the vineyard who resented the discipline and danger involved could hardly help learning something of great value concerning the experience of using words. About his founding part in English 1-2, Baird said, "I would take a general proposition of some kind, or to put it more exactly, I would take a question. The great thing I learned from Collingwood [Robin George Collingwood, the Oxford philosopher of history, nature, and esthetics] was that you had to learn how to ask a question. And the question I asked was, simply, something like this: `What is conflict?' And then I would go on from there and say, `Have you ever felt any conflict?' and `What was it like when you felt conflict?' We had a whole semester on conflict. The word didn't appear day after day, you understand. [What he means by this but does not say is that transposing the chosen word creatively was most important and most difficult, as in any composition.] But there were students in my class who said, `I have never known conflict.' I would like to have somebody tell me what a teacher does when a student says something like that." Listening to these words now, one imagines hearing at this point his great, brief, explosive laugh, "trenchant, turning kind."

It was rarely that he acknowledged a writer, as he acknowledges Collingwood here, as the source of his own thinking and practice as a teacher and scholar. Baird seemed to have sprung, as it were, fully armed, from his own head rather than from the head of Jove. He was well-schooled at Oberlin High School, at Hobart College, and at Harvard University; and before coming here, he taught at Western Reserve University and at Union College, as well as at Harvard. All his life he read voraciously; he quoted often and with acknowledgment, and discussed whatever he happened to be reading with critical gusto; generously he would recommend it to colleagues if he could. But he rarely acknowledged any writer as a mentor or any book as a source of his own ideas. Because his mind and conversation were so unusually interesting and original, and he seemed so often to be right or unanswerable in what he said, one wished very much to know who his mentors might be.

What he acknowledged in Collingwood was a chapter in the Autobiography on discovering the logic of question and answer which can certainly change any thinking reader's habit of mind. And autobiography tended to be the kind of writing that meant most to him. As a young teacher, he discovered The Education of Henry Adams and at Amherst did the surprising thing of making it the sole text for a semester of freshman composition. It was, as he acknowledged, another of the books that changed his mind. There is a famous passage from its first chapter that he would more than once have recourse to:

From cradle to grave this problem of running orders through chaos, direction through space, discipline through freedom, unity through multiplicity, has always been, and must always be, the task of education.

It was Adams' use of "orders" in the plural that appealed to Baird, since the human orders we make are diverse and conflicting, and since, as he put it, "one man's order is another man's chaos." It was a principle that consistently informed the writing assignments he would construct for Amherst undergraduates in all his courses, in Shakespeare, in eighteenth-century literature, in modem fiction.

Soon after he arrived at Amherst, Baird put together an anthology of autobiographical selections titled The First Years, "an attempt to provide materials for a course in the writing of English by directing the student's attention to his own resources of experience." Although the composition course Baird would eventually invent made no use of this textbook, or indeed of any texts other than what students wrote, its principle was one he never retreated from that you could make students care about their writing, not by teaching them "good English"-- the elements of grammar and rhetoric--but by asking them to write about their own lives, a subject that presumably only a very few would claim to be devoid of interest. The First Years contained autobiographical selections from Adams, Gosse, Howells, and others, but the writer gave the most pages and with whom the anthology concludes is Marcel Proust, the last volume of whose great work had appeared in English the year Baird came to Amherst. In passages he chose from In Remembrance of Things Past Baird found what he called "the perfection of a kind of writing, occasionally hinted at, occasionally well done, in autobiography, but never [before] sustained for so long a time nor with such brilliant success." Such writing was a supreme effort at, in Adams' phrase, running various orders through the chaos of thoughts and feelings of a single mind. On a suitably small scale, the effort might be something the Amherst freshman could be invited to try his hand at.

The energies Baird would direct into his composition course were thus continuous with literary experiences he was having of modern masterwork by writers who had not yet become objects of academic study. The third modern writer whose example--right down to the most intimate matters of tone and temperament=made all the difference to Baird was the poet Robert Frost, who distinguished between what he called "the grammatical sentence" and "the vital sentence," the latter being what he was after and what any teacher of writing should also be after. Adams, Proust, Frost: are these the true progenitors of a course in freshman composition that was, so the word went round, really derived from William James's Pragmatism, Wittgenstein, Count Alfred Korzybski, or S. S. Hayakawa?

Baird said that one of his secrets in English 1-2 was to make new assignments every year so that neither he nor his colleagues could rest on what had been done the year before: "I ... never let the other teachers feel that they have done their work before the class begins. The work was always open, the questions were always there, and the answers were just as obscure and fleeting as they ever had been so that the student and the teacher were on the same footing. They were both perplexed and they were both putting what mind they could on the immediate problem: how do you tell, how do you put into words such an experience as this?" To this problem, he dedicated all his very considerable energy, imagination, and wit.

One way to put the exemplary achievement of Theodore Baird as a teacher and colleague on this faculty forty and more years ago is to say that he was an unusually interesting person who simply refused, under any academic circumstances, to allow himself to be bored, not in class, not when grading student papers, not in the library, not when meeting with students or with colleagues. To refuse to allow oneself to be bored is a very considerable achievement, and one not within just anyone's power or will or authority. This was a refusal, however admirable, made by an ambitious man. But there was also a modest and even mild man who asked for nothing more than to be a professor of English at Amherst College. If a junior colleague talked or otherwise behaved, as it were, professionally, with an eye to academic advancement elsewhere, he would say uncomprehendingly, "But I thought you wanted to be a college professor at Amherst." This was indeed what he himself wanted to be, and what with all his power of mind and personality he eminently was. This explains his very high standing in the regard of generation after generation of students, with many of whom he corresponded faithfully long after they went out into the world, students not only in English but mostly in the college at large, which was his true constituency. This explains his indulgent concern for the college library, which he visited almost daily to the end and of which he was a friend in both lower and upper cases, and for which he ordered in his lifetime a myriad of good books. In the days of dormitory libraries on campus, he built up over the years an invaluable, idiosyncratic collection in Pratt for the general student reader. And finally, this explains his relative indifference to seeing what he wrote put into print. He wrote almost as prolifically as he read, and in a very lively style. There are scholarly articles, essays in college and local Amherst history, book reviews, letters, as well as those very interesting course materials, and no doubt more. But he never saw fit to collect any of them or get them published. After all, they are to be found by anyone who seeks them in the collections of Amherst College, and it looks as if they may continue to be read.

The Amherst College that Theodore Baird wanted nothing more than to be a professor at, forty years back has now dwindled into the past, the past the imagination preys upon, as Dr. Johnson said in a sentence that Baird admired. Some of the best things done in Amherst English courses today may be things that Baird once did in his own inimitable way. When he died, he did not leave a wife or a child. His wife of 66 years, Frances Titchener, known to him and their friends as Bertie, a graduate of Wells College and a Doctor in French of Radcliffe who taught for some years at Smith and who made as intelligent, well-read, witty, generous-hearted a companion as one could ask for, died some months before he did. We shall not see his like, or hers, again.

Richard Cody   
G. Armour Craig    
William H. Pritchard    
Douglas C. Wilson


Mary Catherine Bateson (1939-2021)

Catherine Bateson was the Dean of the Faculty at Amherst College from 1980 to 1983 and Professor of Anthropology from 1980 to 1987. Born in December 1939, she was the only child of two noted anthropologists, the British Gregory Bateson and the American Margaret Mead, a heritage that largely determined her own professional life as a cultural anthropologist and prolific writer and lecturer. Catherine died on January 2, 2021. Although her time at Amherst was not long she formed sustained and sustaining friendships with at least a dozen members of the Amherst faculty, friendships warmly noted in the prefaces and acknowledgements to all her books beginning in 1984. At age 20 Catherine married Barkev Kassarjian, who survives her, as does their daughter Sevanne.

In addition to her parents, her husband, and their daughter, educational institutions were, until her last fifteen years, central to her life. In Manhattan she attended progressive grammar schools, then the Brearley School, with her senior year, in Hebrew, in Jerusalem. She matriculated at Radcliffe-Harvard, graduating in two and a half years, followed by a doctorate, again from Harvard and completed, this time, in three years. Her dissertation, in Linguistics and Near Eastern Studies, was on classical Arabic poetry. After her degree she taught for another three years at Harvard, and published her Arabic Language Handbook in 1967; it has never gone out of print. In terms of lasting importance perhaps the most formative experience of her Harvard years was as a teaching assistant in Erik Erikson’s famous course on the stages of life, a schema to which she returned in the books of her maturity where, based on her own experience and that of others, she convincingly modified two of its late stages.

Like the cultural anthropologist that she was, from her first book in 1972 to her last in 2019 she identified patterns in speech and behavior. Her father, she wrote, found the essential patterns in the natural world, and her mother - whom she described as “funny and incisive and occasionally shocking” - identified them in folklore and poetry. She stated that the search for patterns is “a basic habit of thought of cultural anthropology.” If that sounds no more than obvious, she put it to rich use in her writing as she described, in unfailingly supple and lucid prose, her own life, the lives of her renowned parents, and the lives of many others, most of them women.

After Harvard Catherine and her husband, a professor of business management, worked in the Philippines for the next two years. She wrote that it was in that brief stay that she “retooled” herself as an anthropologist, there being no audience there for her work in linguistics and Near Eastern studies. On the other hand, from 1972 to 1979 she and her husband were in Tehran, first teaching, she in Persian, at the University of Tehran, then serving as the founding Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at a projected new university in northern Iran. The Iranian revolution in 1979 meant the end of that university and, for Catherine, her husband - who, when not developing new business management programs abroad, was on the Harvard Business School faculty - and their daughter, a return to a year in Cambridge. Her appointment to the Deanship at Amherst followed in 1980. She was the first woman to serve as Dean, opening the gates to the phalanx of exceptional women administrators who have followed.

Her term as Dean of the Faculty was painfully brief - she was deposed, if not defenestrated, in 1983. She wrote, and published in perhaps her most personal book, Composing a Life (1989), ten measured yet tendentious pages on that experience, noting accurately that the College, for all of its academic eminence, had been slower than every one of its peer institutions to adopt coeducation, and that a long legacy of male privilege survived. Twice acknowledging herself to have been shattered - her word - by her dismissal from the Deanship, she had been misled by the Chair of the Board of Trustees, who had pled with her to accept the Acting Presidency of the College upon the sudden death of Julian Gibbs. In a third consecutive sentence fragment she described not who we are now but who we were then: “A faculty of high intelligence and considerable integrity cocooned in complacent myths.” Thus she played her significant part, not unlike that of martyrdom, in transforming Amherst into the welcoming institution it is today. Yet “martyrdom” may overstate Catherine’s role in altering the College. She took pride in the fact that, as she put it, she “set up a minimum agenda to address the problem of sexism, which was eventually adopted in its entirety by the Board. The first step in the agenda was to create several faculty positions for senior women so that Amherst would not constantly be isolating and rejecting vulnerable young women of talent.” A look around this room testifies to her success.

Catherine was 46 when she taught her last course at the College. Not incidentally, among the courses she taught before she left was a Bruss Seminar with Deborah Gewertz and Rose Olver. And, presciently, she taught an ILS - the old term for a First-Year Seminar - called Race and Sex. Catherine was a formidable presence in a classroom, both deeply learned and adept at dialogue. As the Robinson Professor of Anthropology and, please note, English at George Mason University she continued to teach for many years, albeit halftime in order to make room for writing on a great variety of subjects. Indeed, she wrote in 1989 that henceforward she would be a writer first, an academic second. True to her word, under her full name, Mary Catherine Bateson, she published four books in the five years following her Amherst Deanship, after which her books came steadily, at roughly five-year intervals, until she died. Her last, Thinking Race, in collaboration with Richard Goldsby, appeared in 2019. In addition to Dick Goldsby, in book after book she continued to thank a significant number of her Amherst College friends, including the four of us signatory to this minute.

Thinking Race was Catherine’s second collaboration with Dick, the first, again in the timeliest way, was Thinking Aids, written and published well before medical science knew just how to keep the stricken alive and functioning. In all of her later books she speaks of the importance of being in long-term and wide-ranging dialogue with those with whom and of whom she writes. It is fair to say that the work of the second half of her career was fundamentally biographical. She narrated the life stories of many people she knew, largely women, both public figures like Jane Fonda and Erik Erikson’s wife Joan, a weaver, jeweler, art therapist and active collaborator with her husband. She was no less attentive to her neighbors in and near Hancock, New Hampshire, her resting place, convening gatherings to address such issues as climate change. In addition to her husband and daughter, and her collaborations with Dick Goldsby, her essential interlocutors included Johnetta Cole, the first Black woman president of Spelman College in Atlanta. Catherine co-taught a life-studies seminar there with Johnetta, writing about that experience with special warmth. But her fundamental collaborators - in her father’s case a literal collaboration titled Angels Fear - were her father and mother, about whom she indeed wrote an exemplary dual biography titled With a Daughter’s Eye.

A life, then, of formidable achievement, a life that testifies to the fact that Catherine was much at home in quite various cultures. Christian, unsurprisingly (despite her atheist father’s telegraphed instruction to her mother not to christen the newborn Catherine): raised in her mother’s high Anglican tradition, she attended Episcopal services until the mid-1990s, then converted to Roman Catholicism. She wrote in detail about the life and work of James Morton, Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. And when she retired to the cottage in Hancock, New Hampshire she was active in her local Catholic church in neighboring Peterborough. For her the heart of religion was its function as community. Her other principal cultural home was of course the Near East: she lived in Iran where she taught and administered in Persian as well as English. She wrote about classical Arabic poetry and she knew Turkish, Armenian, Georgian, and Hebrew - as well as Tagalog, which she picked up in the Philippines. Israel in fact meant much to her, from her high school year in Jerusalem. She visited the country a handful of times in later years, forming strong friendships with a number of Israelis.

Finally, lest a reader think that she was, and that the undersigned committee (“senior citizens” all) are, without humor, we conclude by noting that Catherine remarked, only half in jest, that “ageing is an improvisational art form.” More, after many books with brief or no indices, she made up for it by the index to Willing to Learn (2004). It runs twenty-one double columned pages and includes entries extending from “bagels” and “bouillabaisse” to “yoghurt,” navigating the way forward through “hell,” “Midas (King),” “napping,” “Ping-Pong,” “Simpson (OJ),” “softball,” and “weeping.” Oh, and she kept on her Dean’s desk a roll of red tape and, facing her faculty guests, a small wind-up robot labeled “FTE.”

Rest in Peace, Catherine Bateson.

I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered into the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to Mary Catherine Bateson’s family.

Respectfully submitted,

Deborah Gewertz   
Richard Goldsby   
Lisa Raskin   
David Sofield

RALPH E. BEALS (1936-2021)   

Ralph Beals was very much a Kentuckian.  His slow-paced informality of speech made him an easy companion for colleagues and students alike.  His sly wit and trenchant insights drew people to him as a natural leader.  At Amherst, he held many of the most prestigious positions both on the faculty and in the administration.  But he always retained a down-to-earth approach to all he did.  Ralph was especially excited whenever he met a new student from Kentucky and complained that there were far too few of them at Amherst.  He lived and died with the ups and downs of Wildcat basketball.  But most of all he reveled in his 60-plus-year love affair with his wife, Mickey, whose soft southern accent reminded every listener of her Kentucky coal fields heritage.   

Ralph was born on October 30, 1936, in Lexington, Kentucky where his father was a professor of accounting and economics.  In 1958, he graduated with High Distinction in economics from the University of Kentucky.  He then obtained a master’s degree in mathematics from Northwestern before entering the Ph.D. program in economics at MIT.  Ralph’s Ph.D. thesis focused on what could be learned about peoples’ attitudes towards risk by looking at the behavior of commodity speculators.  Throughout his life, he retained an academic (and practical) interest in gambling, especially horse racing.  Kentucky Derby parties at Ralph’s house were not only well-lubricated with mint juleps, but also a quick lesson in the vagaries of pari-mutuel wagering.   

Ralph first came to teach at Amherst in 1962, but he stayed only one year.  For the next three years, he returned to Northwestern as an assistant professor of economics.  But apparently, the year at Amherst had made a lasting impression on both Ralph and the college because he was quickly hired back with a promotion to associate professor in 1966.  He became a full professor in 1971 and in 1980 became the first Clarence Francis Professor of Social Science.  Many of his students reported that Ralph was the best teacher they ever had.  Two instances are illustrative.  In most years Ralph taught a required course in economic statistics and econometrics.  For students, this course was said to be a “bitter pill to swallow,” but universally they reported on how much they valued the course and how important it was to them in later life.  The course also led to Ralph’s writing a fine textbook on the subject – a textbook from which many of his younger colleagues learned a subject that had been a mystery to them in graduate school.     

Ralph’s success, but modesty, as a teacher is best demonstrated by his relationship with Joe Stiglitz – perhaps the most distinguished economics graduate of Amherst.  By Joe’s junior year, Ralph concluded there was nothing more he could teach this exceptional student and urged him to leave without a degree from Amherst after three years and head to graduate work at MIT.  Fortunately, the College eventually realized that they should award a degree to Joe even though he only attended for three years – largely after the constant prodding of Ralph.  It is not too much of a stretch to claim that Joe’s Nobel Prize was fostered by his early association with Ralph.   

One sign of the high esteem in which Ralph was held by his colleagues was his recurring election to the Committee of Six.  During the years 1971 to 1986, he was elected five separate times to the Committee.  Perhaps in recognition of this esteem, he was appointed Acting Dean of the Faculty in 1988 and Acting President in 1991.  In these administrative roles, Ralph continued his low-key but effective style, especially in dealing with the financial hardships the College experienced during his presidency.  He proved to be an exceptionally able administrator during difficult times.  As president, he was also instrumental in the establishment of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture through his productive discussions with the donor, Thomas Whitney.   

Most of Ralph’s academic research focused on economic issues related to developing economies.  After some early work on migration in Ghana and on construction contracting in Jamaica, he turned his interest to Indonesia, a country where he lived for multiple periods during the 1970s and 1980s.  Ralph’s principal focus was on problems the nation faced in contracting with foreign partners to develop its rich mineral resources.  He wrote a wide variety of academic and practical papers on how to structure such contracts in a way as to be most likely to benefit Indonesians as a whole.  One consequence of this research was that Ralph became a regular guest on Indonesian radio and television.  His large frame in combination with his ability to speak the local language made him an object of both respect and curiosity among much of the Indonesian population.   

Ralph had a serious problem with a valve in his heart.  In the mid-1980s a physician in Singapore wisely recommended he have a valve replacement operation – an operation quickly undertaken in Boston.  Because of extensive deterioration in Ralph’s valve, the surgeon was required to use a metal valve.  For the remainder of his life, Ralph made fun of the ticking in his chest, sometimes claiming there was a bomb inside.  But the situation was wearing on Ralph, especially because of the extensive blood-thinning regimen required to avoid strokes.  It is remarkable that he continued to be an effective teacher and researcher during the next 20 years despite this impairment.  In 2006 Ralph retired from Amherst and spent increasing amounts of time in Naples, Florida, mainly with the purpose of being near the spring training camp of the Red Sox.  In late 2019 he experienced a few minor injuries that caused him to be briefly hospitalized.  But dealing with the injuries required constant adjustments to Ralph’s medications and his situation continued to worsen into the new year.  He died on February 12, 2020.  Ralph is survived by his wife of nearly sixty years, Mickey, by his son Jerry and his daughter Ellen and by his four grandchildren.  His legacy at Amherst is ensured by the many fine students he encouraged to think precisely about the estimation of statistical models and by the economics department computer lab, which is justly named in his honor.   

Respectfully Submitted,

Daniel Barbezat   
Richard Fink   
Walter Nicholson   
William Pritchard   
Frank Westhoff   


Antonio Benítez-Rojo liked to cite the French historian Fernand Braudel to the effect that literature and social science, along with other disciplines, ought to mix promiscuously. Certainly, Antonio’s professional control of historiography and the social sciences deepened his art and vice versa. If a person were to ask him about some cultural phenomenon, say the rumba, he would give an answer that was like an epic narrative in itself.

He would explain, warmly and dizzyingly, that in the rumba there is a polyrhythm of an African kind, a choreography similar to that of the yuka (a profane Bantu dance) and even fragments of ritual choreographies of Yoruba and Abakuá origin; there is a Spanish song with rhyme, message and other signifiers that come from Western culture; there is an African chorus and an instrument (the clave) that exists only in Cuba; there is a genealogy erased by the Plantation and some relations with Flamenco which, if they are easy to observe, nobody knows where and how they were established; the principal drum (called caja) was originally a wooden box for salt cod, of Norwegian origin; the drum called a quinto was originally a box for candles whose manufacture was local. For years the rumba was danced exclusively by black people in the cities of Matanzas and Havana. There is no one type of rumba but three. Nobody knows when the rumba started nor does anyone know who named it. Today the rumba is danced by both black and white Cubans. The rumba’s central rhythm, called the clave Cubana, was originally Bantu and later extended itself through almost all of Africa. The musicologists have determined that this and other similar rhythms exist within the drummers’ inner selves. The rhythm is a support for the memory (hence poetry’s popularity where people don’t know how to read). The memories of the African griots are sustained by inner rhythm. The fragments of African culture that are conserved in Cuba were able to be transported from Africa thanks to the inner rhythms of the griots and musicians. Salt cod was the common food of the slaves throughout the Caribbean, and then of all poor people. In Jamaica, it is prepared as salt-fish, in Cuba as aporreado y frituras, and in Puerto Rico as Serenata. The instrument known as the clave (two short wooden cylinders that are struck together) came from naval architecture (the plantation ports of Havana and Matanzas). The ñáñigos or abakuás worked in those ports (these sects do not exist in other parts of Cuba). The rumba sprang up from these cities. There were periods when the rumba was prohibited by the authorities...

On receiving this kind of an illumination, his friends and colleagues might say: “Oh, I get it,” while standing in awe of the man who knew so much about the Caribbean and could make it available clearly, sharply, rhythmically, like no one else in the world. Other scholars of the Caribbean, when they read him or heard him speak, would say: “That’s what I’ve been thinking; it’s a good thing that somebody has put it down.” As if such knowledge and argument exist in the spirit of the age, or in the language. As if anyone else could have come up with it. That’s the price Antonio may have paid for calling himself a post-modernist. He was a lot more than that.

While still in Cuba, before his long exile in Amherst, Massachusetts, he headed the Center for Caribbean Studies at the Casa de Las Américas in Havana, where he read everything, studied everything, and wrote articles about Caribbean history and society. He then went on, after he had begun to write the short stories that made him famous, to become head of the Las Américas publishing house. Before this, he had held other posts, as an economist in the Cuban revolutionary government. (He was very informative and funny on the impossibility of running a full-employment socialist economy. He said that he had on occasion been called to explain himself before the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, and that the Central Committee had been less cocksure of its own opinions than had the Amherst College Committee of Six when he’s been asked to speak with them)

A long period of quiet labor in these government institutions, plus his international fame as a writer, moved the Cuban government to trust him enough to send him to a writers’ congress in the socialist bloc, where he defected, after some cloak and dagger maneuvers, to eventually join his wife Hilda Otaño in Boston. She had been given permission to emigrate earlier, in search of medical treatment for their chronically ill daughter, María. This clement intervention, which prolonged their daughter’s life considerably, was not the only thing to motivate their emigration. They were political liberals and admired that strain of North American history and politics. They couldn’t abide the lack of freedom under the Castro regime in Cuba. Many other Cuban exiles, knowing of Antonio’s defection, expected him to endorse counter-revolutionary, right-wing causes, which he would never do. He was against Castro, but politically outside the Cuban exile community. His works were being read all over Cuba in smuggled editions. He became an American citizen.

When Antonio left Cuba for good, in 1980, his novel, El mar de las lentejas (translated into English as Sea of Lentils) was about to be published, but his leaving stopped the publication, and no Cuban would ever read it in anything but a pirated edition. (It was soon published in Barcelona.) All his knowledge of the Caribbean, all the narrative genius that had made him famous everywhere as a writer of short stories, all his reading of the chronicles of Oviedo, Las Casas and others, all that was known of the era, the Spanish empire, the Armada, Philip the Second, John Hawkins and the English Sea Dogs, the epic movement of the Arawaks, the Caribs (Montaigne’s cannibals)–everything that was known and felt by the Europeans of the 16th Century in their endless blind curiosity and avarice, was reinvented by Antonio in this book. The more formal sources combine with his own new and syntactically plastic energy to lend a dreamlike visual clarity to what people thought they knew of the Spanish conquest: the greed, the killing of infidels, the destruction of indigenous culture, the introduction of slavery.

On January 8, 1991, his translator received this typewritten postcard from the man who would be the book’s most famous and influential reviewer in North America:

Dear Mr. Maraniss:   
Many thanks for your helpful response. I guess I could have been smarter about the Babtista pun, but everybody else is real and this guy certainly becomes real. I hadn’t realized it was his son (son, or the baptized infant?–not the same) that does him in, so vividly, pinning his lungs to the earth. The book overflows with images that another author would have set a little more space around. Your translation seemed etc. I hope you like the review, if and when they run it. I’m sorry the book didn’t win a prize – it deserves one. My best to Bill Pritchard.   
Yours, John Updike

Antonio wrote more books in exile, in Amherst; he wrote the most recent and best multidisciplinary study of the Caribbean (The Repeating Island), a new book of stories (A View from the Mangrove), and another novel. He was an expatriate like Hemingway, Nabokov, Conrad, Cortázar. The latter, an Argentine living in Paris, was one of Antonio’s closest friends and one of his half-dozen peers among 20th Century Latin American writers.

One of Antonio’s favorite things to say, when someone started to lament life’s reversals, was that really we’re not so important: “No somos nada.” It’s easy to imagine him, sitting at El Floridita in Havana with a visiting Julio Cortázar, and one of them saying to the other: “No somos nada, ché”.


Robert Hermann Breusch, Walker Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, and one of the finest teachers in the history of the College, died on March 29, 1995. Born on April 2, 1907, in the German city of Freiburg, he grew up in a time of great intellectual ferment, darkened by the shadows of war and disruption. We reckon his years at nearly eighty-eight; his friends and admirers we cannot number. Those who knew him will have much to add to what we say here; while, if we have done our work aright, those who did not will wish that they had. His friends called him Bob, and we, who were his friends, shall continue to do so here.

Freiburg is a fine old city in the Black Forest region of Southern Germany, and here Bob spent his youth and came of age. His father was a teacher of science, and Bob and his elder brother (who was to become a distinguished chemist) proved to be apt and eager scholars. Bob went on to pursue Physics and Mathematics at the University of Freiburg, with considerable time spent studying in Berlin, eventually earning his doctorate in Mathematics in 1932. It is of interest to remark that Bob, whom we knew so well, was himself acquainted with such legendary mathematicians and physicists as Hausdorff, Schrodinger, Schur and von Mises.

The thirties were not easy years in Germany, and Bob's excellent work in Mathematics could not secure him a university position. He became a teacher in a boarding school near Freiburg, and at this time he met Kate Dreyfuss, who was to share his life. It was their delight to roam the woods and hills together, and their design to marry. Bob had been raised a Protestant, Kate was Jewish, and Hitler had come to power. Bob's loathing of National Socialism was intense, and Kate's people were clearly in danger. There was nothing for them but to flee.

At this time, the government had no objection to Kate's departure, but Bob's case was altogether different: he could become a useful if unwilling servant of the Reich. Bob had a valid passport, but he was under suspicion; if the authorities supposed that his intent was to forsake the Fatherland, they would confiscate his passport. Bob felt the need of a fallback passport, in case this all too probable event should occur. He liked to tell the story of how one day he went for a walk in the Black Forest with Ernst Zermelo (whose name is familiar to every mathematician). During this walk, Bob feigned the loss of his passport, whereupon Zermelo swore in good faith that the passport had indeed been lost. The ruse succeeded: Bob was issued a new passport, and now he had two. He taught himself the craft of bookbinding and artfully concealed one of the passports in a volume of Mathematics, an item, he rightly guessed, not likely to be examined with close attention. In the event, the second passport was never required.

After much careful planning, involving short forays into Switzerland, where Bob established a small cache of his belongings, the time for departure was at hand. This was in the spring of 1936. Bob and Kate bade farewell to parents (whom they would never see again) and made their way by separate paths into Switzerland, and thence to Paris.  In France, they parted. Kate sailed to America, where she stayed with relatives; Bob took ship for Chile, where there were faint prospects of employment. (Immigration to the United States on a permanent basis was not possible at this time, the quotas having already been filled.) Bob was well versed in Latin and Greek, but Spanish was a tongue practically unknown to him. But Bob persisted and finally found a university teaching position in Valparaiso. Kate then arrived from America; and they were married in July of 1936. They spent three happy years in Chile, mastering the language and roaming the countryside together.

When the chance to emigrate to America finally came, they took it. Kate knew English, but Bob did not, so one more language had to be added to his repertoire. Their early times in this country were difficult, and Kate undertook various jobs to see them through. In. the passage of time, Bob became an instructor at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, where the schoolboy Robert Romer first encountered the finest Mathematics teacher he was to know.

In 1943 Amherst College was a busy instructional center for Armed Services personnel, and skilled teachers of Mathematics and Physics were in urgent request. To Amherst then he came. The College was not slow to recognize the quality of the man. He was to spend three decades here until his retirement as Walker Professor of Mathematics in 1973.

Bob was a brilliant and highly respected mathematician. His work in Number Theory (especially his insightful new proof of the Prime Number Theorem) is well known, and his name is frequently cited in the literature. Well into his old age he remained an avid problem-solver, and many of his elegant solutions are to be found, year after year, in the volumes of the American Mathematical Monthly.

Bob's many students remember him for his masterful command of his art, but they revere him for something else. He was the finest teacher many of them had known or would ever know. In manner gentle and self-effacing, in matter luminous and thorough, he affected his students in a way not easy to describe. Was it his clarity, his whimsical asides, his deep interest in their progress, his willingness to consider their lapses as his own, his power to lead them through dark places? What was it that left such an imprint on the minds of so many? The enthusiastic project, undertaken by a group of alumni at the time of Bob's retirement, to endow a fund to establish the Breusch prize for the best Senior thesis in Mathematics, is but one of the palpable signs of his influence for good. We cannot know Bob's secret if secret there was. We can but praise, and so we do.

There is an important thing about Bob that everyone wishing to know the man should know. He loved to climb. His eyes were ever lifted up unto the hills, even unto the highest snow-clad peaks. And given the opportunity, his feet were sure to follow. He would climb any mountain that came to hand; he would seek out mountains and climb them too, for the sheer love of it, frequently exciting amazement at his speed and agility. Even an accomplished mountain goat might be excused a twinge of envy upon observing his perilous ascents. Peaks all over the world, from the Alps to the Andes, became feathers in his cap. He set many a mountaineering record. The more forbidding climbs he undertook alone, but on the easier ascents, such as his annual Spring hike to the top of Mount Washington, engulfed in snow and ice and battered by tremendous winds, he delighted in the company of Kate and other companions. Many a decades-younger friend, with giddy brain and heaving chest, wondered how such things could be. But Bob never pushed (or rather pulled) them beyond their endurance, and cheerfully sacrificed speed to good fellowship. Yes, Bob loved to climb and to share his climbs with others. In the same way, he loved to solve hard problems and to lead his students up the slopes.

Bob and Kate spent many happy years at the College. On a typical evening at home, Bob would pursue his Mathematics or read his favorite authors. (He was fond of Homer, Sophocles, Cervantes, Garcia Marquez, and Russell Baker.) Kate would forge ahead with her readings in Russian and Greek, or else she would dream about their garden, wondering what to plant next. Music was always on the phonograph (Beethoven's string quartets moved Bob deeply). In the summer they would travel to Switzerland or the Rockies, where the mountains beckoned them. New Zealand became their home for several years after his so-called retirement. He taught at the University of Waikato, and they climbed the nearby peaks.

Bob and Kate were inseparable, till death with slow but relentless steps finally parted them in 1979. Bob lived alone for some sixteen years, as cheerful as his lingering bereavement would allow. For many of these years, he heeded the college's call for help and taught various courses in the Mathematics Department. This was a joy to him and good fortune for a younger generation of students. He still climbed, he still enjoyed the company of friends, he still solved problems with gusto. He even took up the cello, an instrument he loved above all others but had never learned to play.

He was not to be spared the bodily ills old age so often brings in train. His ninth decade witnessed the slow undermining of his robust constitution. He walked the hills, the mountains he climbed no more. Many faculty friends had gone before him; several remained. And other friends he had, among whom closest was Janice Denton, who for years faithfully looked after him and helped him to the very end.

Bob loved the College and gave it his best, nor will he be forgotten by the many whose lives he bettered. As a young man, he lost his home but found another. As an old man he lost his Kate, and there was no other. But in death, they are not divided.   

David Armacost   
James Denton    
Robert Romer    
Dudley Towne


Gerry Brophy taught geology at Amherst for forty-three years.  He passed away at the age of eighty-seven on April 2, 2014.   Born in Kansas City, he was raised in New Rochelle, New York.  Upon graduation from Iona Preparatory School in 1944, Gerry served in the U.S. Maritime Service in the North Atlantic until the end of the war.  He then attended Columbia University, completing his B.A. and then a Ph.D. in 1954.

 The Samuel A. Hitchcock Professor of Mineralogy and Geology, Gerry taught at Amherst College from 1954 to 1998, with Introduction to Geology, Mineralogy, and Economic Geology as his signature courses.  He was instrumental in the hiring of Emeritus Professor Ed Belt in 1966, myself in 1975, and Peter Crowley, and Tekla Harms—both in 1986. So, of the current five tenure-line faculty members in our department, Gerry hired and trained three.  In this way, Gerry’s legacy as an educator has been felt for decades after his retirement and continues after his passing.

We three faculty came to Amherst from research universities—Wisconsin, MIT, and Arizona—and only Tekla had actually attended a liberal arts college.  So, it fell largely to Gerry to help us learn how to teach, and how to teach at a liberal arts college, and specifically how to teach at Amherst. 

Gerry taught us how to teach an introductory science class—Geology 11—to all students at the college, while at the same time providing an education that would serve as a foundation for those who wanted to major in geology. Few students come to Amherst as geology majors.   Majors are typically born in Geo 11—students are drawn in by the allure of new and exciting concepts offered by friendly and enthusiastic faculty—and ultimately become hooked on the subject through the now-famous Final Project.

As conceptualized by Pete Foose, but perfected by Gerry, the Geology 11 Final Project is a virtual-mapping exercise based on more than one hundred rock samples laid out in a grid on the lab floor. This is one exam that is seemingly remembered and revered by all who have survived it.  More about the Final Project a bit later.

Gerry understood the power of field trips both to educate and to provide a lifetime of enjoyment and appreciation, as graduates of Geology 11 traveled around the earth throughout their lives. Field trips are still woven into the course’s weekly labs, and there is also an all-day Saturday or Sunday trip, all with the purpose of educating students about the geologic evolution that has occurred over the past one billion years in the area now occupied by the Connecticut River Valley.

Gerry decided that teaching should be fun.  He believed that if faculty are having fun and are enjoying what they are doing, then students will enjoy what they are learning.  Personalizing interactions with students was a hallmark of Gerry’s teaching style.  Called by his first name by many students, even at a time when many faculty called students by their last names, Gerry generously shared stories about his geologic travels around the globe, not to mention his Friday-morning report of the previous evening’s poker results.

Gerry’s impact on the discipline of geology and his contributions to Earth science education reach well beyond Amherst College.

While a graduate student at Columbia, Gerry studied uranium ore deposits in central Utah with the support of the Atomic Energy Commission.  During his long career, he worked as a consultant to several mining companies in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa.  Gerry also worked in Pakistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mexico.  From 1978 to 1980, while on leave from Amherst, Gerry managed the Department of Energy programs for potential geothermal resources in the lower forty-eight contiguous United States.

 For many summers, Gerry was an instructor in and served as counselor and president of, the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association, a field station in Red Lodge, Montana, where students from around the U.S. come for summer field courses in geology.

Gerry was also instrumental in Amherst’s participation in WAMSIP, an acronym for Williams-Amherst-Mount Holyoke-Smith Interinstitutional Project in Geology, a program created in the late-1960s to promote and support undergraduate research in geology.  This program served as a model for the KECK Geology consortium for undergraduate research, which began in 1987 and continues to the present day.

Gerry worked with the Geological Society of America, our most prestigious professional organization, to establish both an undergraduate membership program and a regional section of the society to serve the unique geology of the northeastern U.S. and Canada.  To this day, Amherst geology majors present their honors research results at the annual Spring Northeast Section meeting as student society members.

 The new Beneski Earth Sciences Building and Museum of Natural History opened in 2006.  This wonderful new facility was built around the concept of a teaching lab that integrates lab and lecture components of a course, a concept modeled on Gerry’s mineralogy lab in the old Pratt Building.  In fact, the current mineralogy lab still uses many of the same mineral and rock storage trays designed by Gerry; some still have their original color scheme.  Moreover, the new intro-teaching lab bears a striking resemblance to the old Geo 11 lab in Pratt, with one significant improvement.  Gerry used to set up the final project by first laying out a 26-by-26 block grid on the lab floor with masking tape, requiring him—and later us—to spend several quality hours on our hands and knees at the end of every semester.  We are so convinced of the ongoing positive value of Gerry’s conception of the final project that we had the grid permanently built into the tiles of the Beneski intro lab. 

Gerry served as the director of the Pratt Museum for twenty years, from 1968 to 1987. As director of the museum, in so far as possible, Gerry implemented a philosophy of letting visitors encounter the wonder of the museum’s collections at close range.   This vision continues to this day in the new Beneski Museum, with the location of the mineral collections along the main corridors and the prominent beltway of drawers within the galleries that visitors can open to engage with representative material from the collections—the stuff behind the closed doors.

To take a walk around Beneski is indeed to take a walk with Gerry.  The department’s program, its people, and the facilities all bear his indelible mark.  Each year, a stellar Amherst geology student is awarded the Belt-Brophy Prize, which consists of a Brunton Compass with field case, the most versatile field tool of the geologist.  And two of Gerry’s three children graduated from Amherst, James, Class of ’77 in geology, and Tom, Class of ’84 in political science.

I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence and entered into the records of the college and that a copy be sent to Professor Brophy’s family.

Respectfully submitted,

Edward S. Belt   
Jack Cheney   
Peter Crowley   
Tekla Harms


Professor Elizabeth Bruss died suddenly on May 8, 1981. Liz came to Amherst in 1972 as an assistant professor of English. She had received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan in 1967, earning her master’s and doctoral degree there in 1968 and 1972. At Amherst, she taught English literature, men’s and women’s lives, literary theory, and linguistics; she taught as well in the Kenan colloquium and in the ILS course on Race and Sex. She was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor in 1978; from 1979 until her death she served as chairperson of her department. She served on numerous College committees, including the Fellowship Committee, the Committee of Six, and the Select Committee on the Curriculum. She participated actively in the Five—College Committees on Linguistics and on Women’s Studies, and at the time of her death was setting up a Five—College study group on literary theory. She served on the editorial boards of “The Massachusetts Review,” “Poetics,” and “Enclitic.” She had held a grant from the Ford Foundation, was a fellow at the National Science Foundation, Summer Institute of Linguistics and at the Aspen—Cornell Colloquium on Choice and Decision, and she had deferred a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. In 1979, the Johns Hopkins University Press published her first book, Autobiographical Acts: The Changing Situation of a Literary Genre. During 1978—79, she held a Guggenheim Fellowship, working on a second book, Beautiful Theories, an analysis of five major contemporary literary theorists, which was accepted this spring by the Johns Hopkins Press.

These, one might say, are the facts of Liz’s professional life. But Liz herself was always most deeply suspicious when presented with the purported facts. Her academic laurels must be seen not as the essence but as the concrete evidence of a vital presence who, with her integrity, her intellectual, political, and personal commitments, her brilliance, and her generosity, has affected us more, and more lastingly, than her roles as teacher, colleague, or author could ever suggest.   

She did so by challenging us to see the world differently. Liz once admiringly referred to Jane Austen as a subversive. Liz, too, was a very special kind of subversive, one who, rather than turning the world upside down, helped us to see where “right side up,” wasn’t. Where others ordinarily see the way things are, Liz saw the way things are constructed, as systems of meaning, as relations of power, privilege, or partiality cloaked in the language of universals, as temporary and historically bounded arrangements masquerading as eternal and inevitable. In her teaching, in her writing, in her interactions with colleagues and friends, she beckoned to others to think with her in this way, to cooperate in penetrating to the deeper meanings below the surface. She challenged us to an effort of deconstruction as the necessary first step towards constructive endeavors.   

This quality in Liz was apparent in the formal settings in which she operated: teaching linguistics, working on the proposal for the ILS curriculum, planning the study group on literary theory, writing her books. Yet it was so much a part of her view of the world that it could be detected in everything she did: in her work helping to organize the Copeland Colloquium on race, sex, and class in American culture; in the advice and expertise she provided others for their courses and their writing; in her participation in planning and performing in the first (and thus far the only) guerrilla theater to have been presented to a meeting of this faculty; in the twinkle in her eye as, in conversation with her, one lapsed into yet another unwarranted assumption.   

It was part of Liz’s magic that this fine critical awareness was inextricably tied to deep and strongly felt commitments. She was perhaps too keenly aware of how they are constructed to feel an allegiance to any institution, but her allegiance to the people within this institution and to the goal of making the most of its possibilities, and theirs, made her give unstintingly of her time and energies.   

She was committed to the cooperative pursuit of understanding; although she excelled in all the tasks she undertook alone, she seemed to feel most fully engaged when she could interact with others. Many on this faculty have benefited from her insights and criticisms. When working with others, she shared their enthusiasm for their own ideas while conveying the sense that their sharing with her was essential to her own intellectual life. She lent excitement and insight to the courses she taught with others, and gave sympathetic and helpful hearings to probably more unformed ideas than any of the rest of us would tolerate.   

She was committed to creating a society in which men and women, in which people of all races could participate fully and equally, and in which boundaries of class and privilege would no longer stand in the way of the full development of anyone. In the academic setting, these commitments led her to work towards making this a college for both women and men, a task that she saw beginning and not ending with the admission of women students. Thus she participated actively in designing courses examining men’s and women’s roles in society and in literature; served on the Five—College Committee on Women’s Studies, and spoke out publicly and privately on issues concerning sexual equality. As both a student of cultural assumptions and an individual committed to racial equality, she spoke out on issues affecting minority students in the College, helped to design the ILS course on race and sex, and protested College policy on investment in South Africa.   

Her encouragement to others engaged in like endeavors was unfailing. Both her intellectual convictions and her generosity of spirit led her to see this striving for equality as a striving for inclusiveness, not just of individuals but of the cultural and group contexts which gave substance and meaning to their lives. She drew on her personal experience as well as on her wider knowledge in reminding her colleagues and students of the economic inequalities which hampered human development. And here, close to home, her actions revealed that she never forgot that the College included not only faculty and students but staff as well.   

There was much more to Liz. Even her faults stemmed from her virtues; she could never say no to any request, and if she did not suffer fools gladly, they rarely knew it. She was, as all who encountered her soon realized, possessed of both a brilliant mind and a warm heart. She did nothing by halves. She spoke extemporaneously not in sentences but in paragraphs. Her wit and her seriousness could emerge simultaneously, sometimes disconcertingly but always effectively. She disdained puffery while preserving her sympathy for the puffer. She always prized a certain zaniness in herself and in others. She was more modest than she had any right to be, but it was all genuine——while few things delighted her more than being able to brag of the achievements of others. She was a model perhaps most in her steadfast refusal to be or be made into a model of anything but integrity, of being true to oneself and one’s principles.   

Respectfully submitted   

C. Armour Craig   
Kathleen J. Hartford   
Robert C. Townsend

GEORGE L. CADIGAN (1910 - 2005)

George L. Cadigan was born in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., April 12, 1910, the son of Edward and Christine (Lindblom) Cadigan. He died at his home in Topsham, Maine on December 16, 2005.

His mother, a beautiful woman, born in Argentina, was of Swedish and English descent. His father was of Irish descent. His grandfather fled Ireland after a brawl with English soldiers in a local tavern. Somehow he managed to make it to South Africa and then New York City. George’s father recalled that from hostility and need his father’s underpants were fashioned from a bedraggled Union Jack. Edward and Christine Cadigan had four sons and a daughter. George was the third son.

George Cadigan was raised in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., where he attended high school for three years before transferring to the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia to be with his older brother, Charles, following their mother’s death. Charles Cadigan was a student at the Episcopal Seminary in Alexandria. George excelled as a student and as a leader of numerous student organizations. At the urging of his brother, who had attended Amherst College, George applied for admission to Amherst.. He met the entrance requirements of four years of Latin or Greek and three years of a modern language and was accepted into the Class of 1933.

George later wrote: “These were beautiful years for me. The faculty was excellent and the undergraduates knew their teachers and each other.” However, these were the years of the great depression. Many students had to leave for lack of funds. George’s father’s business suffered; but with the assistance of scholarships and various sorts of employment, George managed; indeed, he thrived. He was class president in his freshman, sophomore, and senior years. He was a star player on the football team all four years and was captain in his senior year when Amherst College won the Little Three Championship for the first time in five years. George graduated cum laude. He admired the excellence of the faculty and the range of courses that he was required to take in a highly prescribed curriculum. He never departed from this vision of the College. In a 1966 Baccalaureate Sermon in Johnson Chapel, using the opening paragraph of the College Catalog as his “text,” he stated: “For 145 years this College has been a bulwark against the overspecialization and departmentalization of education and of life. It has maintained a belief that the student counts. His (her) relationships to faculty and other students have priority. It has endeavored to equip her sons (and daughters) individually and corporately, not for personal salvation, but rather for the redemption of a confused world. It has never permitted them to miss the forest because of a flaming bush or a sunny meadow, lovely and seductive though such may be. It is one world, and your college is deeply committed that her undergraduates and alumni be equipped to admit and work with this fact.”

In the Olio from 1933, one of his classmates wrote: “Now George is not one of those things called reformers, but the legion of those who know him are forced to admit, however unwillingly, that because of him there is a change in them for better or worse. So his decision to assume the clerical collar sounds a welcome note. He will succeed there as here. So quake ye halls of fame: an Irishman is on the way.”

George attended the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where “from the beginning,” he writes, “ I felt very much at home. My classes in Church History, New Testament, Old Testament, Theology and Philosophy of Religion seemed to bring a beautiful integration to my liberal arts studies at Amherst. In the medieval sense, theology became the ‘Queen of the Sciences.’” In 1935 he received a Simpson Fellowship from Amherst College enabling him to attend Jesus College in Cambridge, England for a year of graduate studies. Upon returning to the United States, George was ordained to the priesthood and served at Grace Church, Amherst, and as Assistant Chaplain at Amherst College in1936 and 1937, before becoming Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Brunswick, Maine (1937- 42).

While in Brunswick, George and Charlotte Wales Young were married. They had the joy of two children before Charlotte was stricken with flu and died in March 1943. Bereaved, now an only parent, and pastor to families whose children were being “killed in action,” George wrestled with anger, loneliness, and the desire for a shared life of love. Later that year he met Janey Jones—an artist with words and brush. Within months they were married; and in the years that followed, they gave birth to two children and shared a long and wonderful marriage. Jane died in 1993.

George’s ministry at St. Paul’s Church in Brunswick (1937 to 1942), at Grace Church, Salem, Massachusetts (1942 to 1948), and St. Paul’s Church in Rochester, New York (1948 to 1959), were marked by significant renewal in the spiritual life of all three parishes. George’s ministry as a pastor, his ability to listen and to lead with a gentleness and understanding became widely known. He was also increasingly aware of the Church’s need for community outreach to address the social and economic problems of an urban society and their political underpinnings. In 1959 he was invited to become the seventh Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, elected on the first ballot to succeed the distinguished Right Reverend Arthur Lichtenberger, who had been elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Such an honor; and yet it would mean leaving New England and being far more distant from the lovely cottage they had built on Kezar Lake in Lovell, Maine. George loved the ponds, lakes and streams of Maine. They were a source of spiritual renewal. He was an ardent and superb fly fisherman. He delighted in quoting John Buchan’s observation: “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive, but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” Their dismay at the thought of moving west was expressed in Jane’s saying, “My God, George! Missouri is beyond the Mississippi River.”

Arriving in St. Louis, the new Bishop found himself in a city that was discovering how thin the veneer was that masked its southern bearings. The Civil Rights Movement was underway, and resentment on the part of St. Louis citizens was manifest. In October 1963 Bishop Cadigan wrote a Pastoral Letter to the Churches in Missouri.

“My dear people:

Not since the Civil War has the United States been so convulsed by civil disorder and conflict. Up to this time, too many of us have been spectators, witnessing in the abstract one of the greatest social revolutions. We have felt comfortingly secure in that such was taking place in Montgomery or Oxford, Mississippi, or Orangeburg, South Carolina. But now it is increasingly in our very midst and we cannot remain uninvolved.. The disobedience to the law at a banking institution tells us, whether we like it or not, that the race issue is not apart from us and compels me at this time to address you in this way.

We are all wrapped up in the bundle of guilt that separates us in cruel and untoward ways from our fellows. Demonstrations have their place in our society and such can be very therapeutic so long as they are consistent with the philosophy of non-violence. Demonstrations will occur repeatedly, before some labor union headquarters, at an industrial plant, or on the steps of the church where we worship. [They will occur] until the sick body of our society is cleaned and made whole.

At this point in time, the cleavage between Negroes and whites is very marked indeed. The understandable hostility of the Negroes is matched only by the increasing bitterness of the whites. It is not inconceivable that disorder and even violence are on our threshold. What can we do, what must we do, to save our community and make meaningful those now almost forgotten phrases of ‘brotherhood’ and ‘children of God.’

Employment opportunity is perhaps the most necessary measure in the whole gamut of civil rights. There are some of us, and many persons and businesses have been working toward this end, who are in a position to employ qualified Negroes in positions of responsibility. The area of open housing, so delicately regarded by some, and so pointedly rejected by others, must serve to free the Negroes from those ghettos in which they are now encased. More strongly than ever do I feel that a Public Accommodations Measure must be passed now, in this state where we live. It is blasphemy to speak of loving one’s neighbor and to refuse him/her a resting place or a cup of coffee in most parts of Missouri. Each of us must urge our respective legislators to stand firmly for a law that will ensure, for all, the essentials of citizenship—of being part of the community. Such are but a minimal Christian response. We face no question of either/or. Justice and charity require that social rights be protected by social structures and justice requires also that those who are prejudiced must be shown a better way of living. Both must be done and they must be done in the present situation with equal seriousness and dedication.

There are many sincere persons who will say that this statement is alien to the meaning of the Church. But food, shelter and self-respect, and the meaning of persons are of the stuff of life. Prayer and worship and statements of faith are shibboleths unless they prompt us to act with God, Who came into this world to bring wholeness to all men. I believe you believe this, too. Please pray for me, even as I will pray for you. Do pray also that God’s Holy Spirit will lead us to create with Him a community where Justice and Charity prevail.

George L. Cadigan   
The Bishop’s Office.

In the years that followed, Bishop Cadigan would participate in marches on the State Capital on behalf of fair housing and Open Accommodations; send Pastoral Letters in support of Planned Parenthood; call for an alliance with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers by boycotting the purchase of grapes and lettuce and making owners of local markets aware of their reasons; urging the liberalization of an abortion statute; condemning the bombing of North Vietnam. Initially, the response of persons in St. Louis was outrage. George received calls from local political leaders, businessmen, and even members of parishes in his Diocese protesting the Bishop’s public actions and statements. Some members of the Cathedral left in righteous indignation. Hate calls, even threats were received. George sorrowed, prayed, and stood resolute. He kept in touch with Martin Luther King, Jr. and brought him to the Cathedral in St. Louis. He supported reforms in the city’s educational system. His affect was such that one member of the Board of Education openly wished that “that Bishop” would not attend meetings, for he could not tolerate the quiet manner in which George addressed issues. Finally, in many quarters, dismay and anger turned to respect. He traveled on peace missions to Israel and South Africa. At the House of Bishops, he argued for the right of women to be ordained to the priesthood and for full inclusion in the Church’s sacramental life to gays and lesbians. In the1970s he was named St. Louis Citizen of the Year by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Urban League of St. Louis. He was named to the Board of Trustees of Amherst College in 1965, serving for six years, and received the Medal for Eminent Service from Amherst College in 1988.

Upon his retirement as Bishop in 1975, George and Jane returned to Amherst. President John William Ward invited George to be Minister at the College. When George asked what this entailed, President Ward said, “I want you to be a presence.” George did not find this very informative, but since it did not obligate him to a particular schedule and provided him with the opportunity to be in touch with students, George accepted. Indeed, George Cadigan became “a presence.” In the eight years as Minister at the College, he became the friend of many in the community, and through his capacity for friendship was respected and loved. As a fitting tribute to one who loved and served the College so well, The Cadigan Center For Religious Life was dedicated in October 2000.

Mr. President, we ask that the faculty rise for a moment of silence and that this letter be sent to the members of George L. Cadigan’s family.

Respectfully submitted by:   
Deene Clark   
Peter Gooding   
David Hixon   
Betsy Cannon Smith   
John Pemberton III, Chair

MAVIS CAMPBELL (19?? - 2019)

Professor Mavis Campbell began her post-secondary education at the Bethlehem Training College in St. Elizabeth Parish in southwestern Jamaica, before going on to the London School of Economics and the University of London.  After earning her doctorate, she worked as economic advisor to the Zambian Embassy in London and at the Zambian mission to the UN.  She taught for six years at Hunter College in New York before coming to Amherst where she taught Caribbean history for 29 years.  In 2006, she returned to her native Jamaica.

Amherst in the late 1970s was a difficult place for female faculty and faculty of color to thrive, and Mavis was one of only two female faculty of color with tenure track positions at the time. Professor Amrita Basu remembers that when she joined the faculty in 1981, bringing that number to three, Mavis was among the first colleagues who invited her to share a meal in her home. Amrita recalls Mavis’ elegant style, commanding presence, and fierce sense of pride. She was struck both by how isolated Mavis was and by how she found companionship in writing about issues that were deeply meaningful to her. By the time Martha arrived at Amherst in1996-7, Mavis had withdrawn from the Black Studies department and from participation in history department meetings.

Although Mavis led a solitary life and did not have peers who could tell her story, she did leave a rich record of original and meticulous scholarship about the Caribbean world from which she came and to which she would return.   Mavis engaged vigorously with history, evaluating sources, weighing alternative interpretations of an event or action, and describing the results of a conflict or a piece of legislation.  Her writing voice is formal but fully alive; her judgments are persuasive, and it is hard to miss how much she savored uncovering the stories of those who defied slavery, oppression, and racism.         

Mavis’s first book, The Dynamics of Change in a Slave Society: A Sociopolitical History of the Free Coloreds in Jamaica, 1800-1865, explores the history of Jamaica during the period surrounding the abolition of slavery in 1834, focusing on the small, relatively wealthy group of free blacks, positioned between the white planters and the majority enslaved population.  Mavis described this intransigent, pro-slavery group, who were literate and therefore her most important sources, with a certain matter-of-fact acceptance, using their papers strategically to reinterpret events.  She admired those enslaved men and women who endured and resisted and admired, even more, those bold enough to escape to live in the several maroon —or runaway—communities.  She reserved her deepest opprobrium for the protagonists of her study, the mulattos who distanced themselves from slaves and darker-skinned Jamaicans, while futilely trying to achieve acceptance from white planters.  She blamed the “free coloreds” for their failure to transcend their debilitating self-hatred.  As she wrote, “If the society of Jamaica today displays traces of complexional prejudices…then it is more the result of the behavior of the mulattos than of the whites…. [These…prejudices] that are now transferred into “class” prejudices have bred fear and insecurity and have stultified development….” (193-4).

After completing her first book, Mavis turned her forensic talents to uncovering the largely hidden paths of the maroons, filling a scholarly void that Orlando Patterson had identified in 1970.  The maroons’ variety of survival techniques interested Mavis.  Some groups made arrangements with the plantation owners and Assembly, agreeing to return escaped slaves in exchange for being left in peace. Others secreted themselves in inaccessible mountain hideaways, where the women grew crops and the men raided plantations for supplies, arms, and new recruits.  The British authorities only managed to find these maroons at the end of the 18th century and only after importing packs of vicious Spanish hunting dogs like those the conquistadors had let loose on indigenous people.  The maroons finally signed a peace treaty when the British promised they would be allowed to remain on the island.  However, the British banished all the surviving maroons to the northern wilds of Halifax, in Nova Scotia. 

Mavis narrates the odyssey of these intrepid 568 men and women in her next two books, through documents which she edited.  The Jamaicans were exiled along with a group of formerly enslaved men and women who had fought for Britain during the American Revolution.  Miserable and sick in these chilly latitudes, the largely illiterate maroons petitioned, politicked, and protested over the next three years until they browbeat reluctant British bureaucrats into allowing them to be transported to Sierra Leone.  Mavis dedicated her first volume to Mrs. Rhea Cabin, the History Department’s longtime, sainted coordinator, “whose lightning swiftness in processing the work incredibly did not affect her accuracy.  There were moments when I thought she would have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the material, but her enthusiasm never flagged.”  Mavis’s next book follows the maroons to Sierra Leone, using the journal of a British employee of the Sierra Leone Company who oversaw this voyage.   In her maroon trilogy, Mavis uncovered a hidden story and paid tribute to a persecuted but undaunted and resourceful people.     

Mavis’s groundbreaking contributions to Caribbean History were highly regarded by other Caribbean historians and intellectuals. Professor Carlene Edie of the University of Massachusetts judges Mavis’s work to be on a level with that of Harvard’s Orlando Patterson in opening up Caribbean history and being the first to link maroon histories across the region.  Professor Rhonda Cobham-Sander recalls that when she invited the Barbadian poet and historian Edward Kamau Brathwaite to Amherst in the late 1980s, Mavis was the first person he asked to meet. At lunch, with the two scholars, she was impressed by the deference with which Brathwaite treated his fellow Caribbean historian. Listening to their conversation, she was intrigued to learn how Mavis’s early research had influenced Brathwaite’s own magnum opus on the Development of Creole Society, 1770-1820, published two years after Mavis’s first book appeared. 

Mavis’s next work was Black Women of Amherst College, a compendium of information about 56 of the more than 250 Amherst African American women graduates from 1980-1997. It was written as the companion to Black Men of Amherst, by Harold Wade.  As Mavis said, “the thrilling side to the writing of this book –the -labor-of-love aspect—was to see the impressive achievement of these black women within the relatively short period of coeducation at Amherst.” (Coeducation began in 1976).  Black Women of Amherst College illuminates the challenges of coeducation for this cohort of Amherst women, as well as their contributions to the College, their struggles with it, and their inspiring post-graduate careers.

Mavis’s final work, Becoming Belize, explores the former British colony that occupies a slice of the Honduran coastline and was a much-coveted prize in the long struggle between Britain and Spain for control of the Caribbean.   In tracing the fate of this sliver of land, Cambell spotlights the Miskitos, a coastal group of Zambos, or indigenous people who had mixed with Africans, possibly former slaves from Providence Island, held by English Puritans briefly in the mid-17th century.  Their military prowess was indispensable to Britain in keeping a toehold on the Spanish Main. All her historical skills are on display here--her meticulous examination of evidence, her thoughtful resolutions of historical disputes, and her knowledge of 17th and 18th-century imperial history.  So does her enjoyment in telling the stories of people who resisted imperial domination, slavery, and racism and carried themselves with pride.

Mavis’s academic successes did not come easily. Like many Caribbean scholars of her cohort, her early educational experiences were shaped by formidable West Indian school masters and mistresses, who approached the education of their students with military precision and ferocity.  Many of these teachers held no more than teaching certificates from regional Teachers’ Colleges like the Bethlehem Teachers Training College where Mavis received her earliest post-secondary education. Nevertheless, their uncompromisingly high standards and no-nonsense approaches to discipline produced the cohort of Caribbean intellectual giants, many of them Oxbridge and LSE graduates, to which Mavis belonged—Nobel laureates, for example, like the economist Arthur William and the poet Derek Walcott of St. Lucia, or the acclaimed historian Eric Williams, who was also the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. If, as their biographers have written, these black men had to struggle mightily to achieve their full intellectual potential in the global arena, the battle for an education was even more harrowing for women in their cohort. Mavis never forgot the importance of the need to fight for educational access, and she carried into her Amherst classrooms the combative style and rigorous standards that had shaped her Caribbean education, as well as the fighting legacy of the maroon communities near which she had been raised. As kinder, gentler approaches to learning replaced this boot camp approach to education, many Amherst students came to fear her blunt, confrontational style.  Some of her earliest students, however, found her tough demands bracing.  Rhonda Cobham-Sander recalls that, when she first arrived at Amherst in the mid-1980s, a black female student, who had found the College a hostile, forbidding space, singled out Mavis for having taught her how to fight her way through the institution by challenging her to set higher goals for herself than those demanded of other students.

Mavis never forgot her origins.  Throughout her professional life, she paid for the education of numerous relatives back home. And at the end of her distinguished academic career in North America and beyond, she returned in retirement to the community in which she had first been educated. It is fitting that the New Beulah Moravian Church in St. Elizabeth Parish was the setting for the memorial service that celebrated her life this past winter.   Their warrior daughter had come home.

President Martin, I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered in the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to Professor Campell’s family.

Respectfully submitted by

Amrita Basu   
Rhonda Cobham-Sander   
Martha Saxton

OTIS CARY (1921-2006)

Otis Cary, class of 1943, passed away on April 14, 2006. He was Professor Emeritus of History and served from 1947 to 1992 as Representative of Amherst College at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He had a remarkable career spanning prewar and postwar years in Japan. His death signals the passing of a generation and the end of an era. Cary was born in Japan, the son and grandson of Amherst graduates who went to Japan as Christian missionaries. His grandfather was a student with Niijima Jo (Joseph Hardy Neesima), who graduated from Amherst in 1870 and founded Doshisha in 1874.

After attending elementary school in Japan, Cary entered Deerfield Academy and Amherst College. A junior at Amherst when the war started, he joined the U. S. Navy, served at Pearl Harbor’s Joint Intelligence Center, and participated in the Aleutians and Saipan campaigns. Later, he was executive officer in charge of more than 4,000 Japanese prisoners of war in Hawaii. A fellow officer said of Cary, “he was determined to treat prisoners not as enemies but as human beings.” He talked to the POWs about war, democracy, militarism, and the Japanese emperor. He supplied them with books and allowed them to set up a school where they taught history, politics and English to each other. When the war ended, Cary went to Japan as a member of the American Occupation Forces. Armed with letters from some of his former prisoners, he found their families and assured them their sons were alive and would soon return home. In the fall of 1945, Cary met privately several times with Prince Takamatsu, one of Emperor Hirohito’s younger brothers. He suggested to the prince that the emperor should shed his military attire, issue his messages in everyday Japanese and mix with the people. Cary’s relationship with the prince continued until the latter’s death in 1987.

Cary returned to Amherst in 1946, completed his undergraduate degree and enrolled at Yale, where he earned his M.A. in American Studies. President Charles Cole in 1947 appointed Cary Amherst’s Representative at Doshisha University and an instructor on the Amherst faculty. Cary revived the prewar relationship between his alma mater and Doshisha University that had led to the building of the Amherst House on the Doshisha campus in 1932. Otis and his wife, Alice, a graduate of Yale’s School of Medicine, lived in the Amherst House with Doshisha students until 1960, when an annex was built which included a residence for the Cary family. They had three daughters and one son. Cary served as the director of the Amherst House until 1980. Assisting him as caretaker of the Amherst House for 27 years was Nakano Isamu, one of the prisoners Cary had befriended during the war. In his 45 years as Amherst’s representative and a faculty member at Doshisha University, Cary taught courses in American Studies, co-founded the Center for American Studies, and served as a trustee of several prominent organizations and centers of learning. During sabbatical leaves in 1950 and 1956, Cary returned to Amherst and taught courses on Japanese cultural history.

As director of the Amherst House, Cary invited many celebrities and scholars to speak at Doshisha University, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Marian Anderson, John D. Rockefeller III, Arnold Toynbee, Emil Brunner and others. He also helped organize summer seminars in American Studies for Japanese professors of many universities. At weekly events for students, he spoke not only of America’s strengths but also its shortcomings and inspired his students to question what they had been taught. “This was the awakening of my intellectual curiosity,” recalled one former student. Many remembered his great sense of humor, his passion for jazz, especially Louis Armstrong, his extracurricular discussion sessions, and his practice of giving nicknames to students to short-circuit the social stratification imposed by standard Japanese forms of addressing others according to age and rank. “His wit and love of Japan,” recalled another former student, “were always evident in everything he said and did.”

President Cole visited Japan for six weeks in early 1953 at the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation. Cary and Count Kabayama Aisuke (Amherst class of 1889) arranged Cole’s lectures at major universities and Cary served as his interpreter. When Kabayama and John D. Rockefeller III, supported by the U.S. government, established the International House of Japan as part of an effort to encourage intellectual exchange with Americans, Cary was appointed to the Board of Directors of that organization. Cary recommended to President Cole that Amherst College establish two fellowships for Japanese students to study at the College. The Trustees accepted the recommendation and funded the Niijima (Neesima) and Uchimura (Uchimura Kanzo was class of 1887) fellowships for Japanese students to spend two years at Amherst and earn degrees. Cary also recommended that the prewar practice of sending recent Amherst graduates to serve for two years at Doshisha (in effect from 1922 to 1941) be replaced by one-year Amherst-Doshisha fellowships, which took effect in 1958.

In 1968, Dean Prosser Gifford urged Otis Cary to encourage Doshisha not only to support American Studies but also to help with the development of Asian Studies at Amherst. In September of that year, Cary hosted an Amherst-Doshisha conference on expanding relations between the two schools. Dean Gifford and three Amherst faculty members met in Kyoto with Cary and Doshisha representatives and proposed faculty exchange, joint research projects, library cooperation and a junior-year program for Amherst and other American students at Doshisha. The anti-war movement at Japanese universities in the late 1960s and early 1970s delayed the adoption of these proposals. But, with Cary’s urging, Doshisha did provide office space and other logistic support for the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP), the junior-year abroad program which was founded in 1971 by Amherst and Carleton College. Today the AKP has fifteen sponsoring institutions and has sent more than twelve hundred American students to study Japanese language, history and culture at Doshisha University. An agreement in 1976 made it possible for Doshisha faculty to spend a year’s leave at Amherst and for many Doshisha students to study English here during the summers. Otis Cary’s support was essential for the success of these programs.

Cary’s scholarship includes books and articles he authored and edited on missionaries in Japan, American civilization, and events during and immediately after the war. Cary is the author, in Japanese, of several volumes of wartime and cross-cultural experiences including Nihon Kaigen, Jeepu Oku no Hosomichi, Nihon to no Taiwa and translations into Japanese of Reinhold Niebuhr’s The Irony of American History and The Self and the Drama of History. Especially interesting is his book Atomic Bomb Targeting: Myths and Realities, in which he showed that Secretary of War Henry Stimson personally removed Kyoto from the list of potential targets for the atomic bombs; and War-Wasted Asia, 1945-46, a collection of letters he exchanged with Donald Keene, Theodore deBary (both later Columbia University professors) and others immediately after the war. He also wrote on Kyoto for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Among his honors was Japan’s Order of Sacred Treasure, awarded by the Japanese government in 1987.

Otis Cary retired from Doshisha in 1992 and left his beloved Kyoto in 1996 for Oakland, California, where he spent the remaining years of his life with his family.

Trent E. Maxey   
Ray A. Moore   
Samuel C. Morse   
Wako Tawa

FREDRIC CHEYETTE (1932 - 2015)

Fredric Lawrence Cheyette, Professor Emeritus of History, died on April 14, 2015, at the Fisher Home, the Hospice facility in Amherst. He was 83.

Educated at Princeton and Harvard, Fred taught at Stanford and Oberlin before coming to Amherst College in 1963 with his first wife, Shlomit, and their three children, Oren, Dina, and Tammy. During the next four decades, he taught medieval history and European Studies at Amherst, and also served as a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Kyoto, and two French universities. He retired from Amherst College in 2005.

Over his long career, Fred proved to be, in the words of a former colleague, “a meticulous intellectual artisan – a guild master in the handwork of history.” Focused on medieval Provence, he mastered several languages and the skills of paleography, demography, archaeology, law, and historiography, and he deployed those skills to quite literally transform the field of French medieval studies on more than one occasion. At his induction as a fellow of the Medieval Academy, he was called “a pioneering and prophetic voice,” one who steadily “challenged received opinions.”

A painstaking scholar – Professor Chickering remembers thirteen drafts of an article he co-wrote with Fred -- he began in 1962 to produce a steady stream of essays on a remarkably varied series of topics – among them, law and the state, piracy, the Hundred Years War, chivalry, agriculture, demography, women, poetry, violence, and climate. Beginning in the 1990s, he began bringing to fruition the work that had occupied him for decades and that would become his magnum opus: Ermengard of Narbonne and the World of the Troubadours.

Published in 2001, Ermengard is a work of immense archival labor, but it is always more than an assemblage of myriad facts. Rather, it places within the context of an astonishing range of political, social, economic, and cultural history the narrative of a remarkable woman, the Viscountess of Narbonne, who, during the last half of the twelfth century, successfully negotiated the storms of dynastic rivalries and religious crusades and won fame that spread from her native Occitania and, through the songs of the troubadours, to the rest of Europe. Fred’s reading of Troubadour poetry allowed him to discover how the “bonds of love” and the “culture of fidelity” operated both with and against the political realities of 12th century Occitan society. When princes and crusaders finally overwhelmed Narbonne, severing those bonds, Ermengard passed from history – that is, until Fred Cheyette resurrected her and her city and her world.

Ermengard of Narbonne immediately garnered extravagant but entirely merited praise, winning the David Pinkney Award for the Outstanding Book in French History, awarded by the Society for French Historical Studies; the Eugene Kayden National University Press Book Award for the outstanding book in the Humanities for 2001; and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize, awarded by the Phi Beta Kappa Society in 2002. Upon the publication of the French translation, Fred was honored with the keys to the city of Narbonne.

Fred did not rest on his laurels, even in retirement. Instead, he pushed forward on another massive scholarly project, an interdisciplinary ecological history of the impact of climate change on European society from the year 300 to 1500. A work of archaeological recovery, this project also required Fred to master – of all things! -- the art of aerial photography and thereby to discover buried patterns of habitation and cultivation. Now in the hands of an international team of scholarly collaborators, this project may before long eventuate in another significant publication.

Fred’s modesty kept knowledge of his scholarly reputation confined to a small circle. I well remember, after a day at the American Historical Association meeting in Los Angeles more than twenty years ago, being accosted at a cocktail party at UCLA by a scholar who noticed the words “Amherst College” on my nametag. He asked about Fred and then proceeded to speak, in a way that I must admit surprised me, with the highest admiration for Fred Cheyette’s scholarship and with the deepest appreciation for his services as informal but endlessly generous mentor. This relatively young scholar, Patrick Geary, now the senior medievalist at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, declared Fred to be one of the two or three most important scholars in his field -- and also a devoted friend.  At the symposium in Fred’s honor that was held at Amherst College on October 10, scholars from around the world offered ample confirmation of this estimate.

Fred brought to the classroom the same passion for his subject and meticulous attention to primary sources that marked his research. Those who taught with him remark on his skill in focusing students’ attention on the interpretation of strange and sometimes intractable documents. His class became a graduate-level seminar in documentary analysis and interpretation, says Professor Chickering, but more importantly an exercise in “how to think.” Professor Courtright remembers that he could be “fierce,” never letting up until his students had succeeded in making at least some sense of those documents.  And yet, Professor Chickering also remembers, Fred Cheyette “taught me to smile more to students.”

Fred’s colleague Peter Czap says that Fred was “fearless” when he had to be, for example, when Fred, a young assistant professor, insisted on a rigorous and negative assessment of a student’s work, even when some of his senior colleagues would have let that work pass. Years later, when a plan was afoot to demolish what is possibly the most distinguished piece of architecture on the Amherst campus, Fayerweather Hall, Fred, whose office was located there, simply refused to leave the building, even after the heat was turned off.  When the standoff ended, the college had given up and Fred stood alone and triumphant in the halls of Fayerweather, soon to be rejoined by his thankful colleagues. It was a triumph he was pleased to boast about in the years to come.

A devoted gardener, Fred reveled in clearing brush and laying stones as much as in sharing the bounty of his labors. A fine cook, his pate was legendary, as was his Tripes a la Provencal.  More importantly, Fred’s home in Leverett was a place where he and his second wife, Susan Huston, who died in 1997, and his companion of the last seventeen years, Ellen Baker, surrounded themselves with children, grandchildren, friends, beautiful gardens, and beautiful music. And, of course with laughter.

Indeed, anyone who encountered Fred for more than a few minutes could count on hearing his ready – and sometimes raucous – laugh. He never took himself too seriously and reminded us all to be kinder and more forbearing to one another. He was a devoted choral singer and lover of music, a founding member of Da Camera Singers, with which he sang for four decades here in Amherst, and also a member of the Tanglewood Chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for several years. Anyone who stood next to him in rehearsals, as I often did, knew Fred to be a dedicated musician, and, more importantly, a true amateur, one who expressed sheer wonderment over a work or a phrase of music that he loved.

Frederic Lawrence Cheyette was a gentle-man and a scholar, a teacher and a mentor, and a true appreciator of the pleasures of life. He is missed.

We request that this memorial minute be entered into the records of the college and that a copy be sent to Professor Cheyette’s family.

Respectfully submitted,    

Howell Chickering    
Nicola Courtright    
Francis. G. Couvares (chair)    
Peter Czap


Richard Cody (1929)


Richard Cody, known fondly to friends and colleagues as Dick, was born in 1929 and grew up in Blackheath, London, England.  He attended the Roan School in Greenwich, served two years as Corporal in the British army, and did a BA at University College, Southampton before moving to America in 1953.  Here, in Oxford, Mississippi, he took up his one-year position at “Ole Miss” as Visiting Fulbright Scholar and spent the rest of his life in the United States, where he married and raised his two daughters.  Even 30 to 40 years later, Dick could still relate his gruesome experiences during the German blitz of London between 1940 and 1941 as if it had been yesterday.  He never failed to recount his life in England with vivid and loving detail.  His Englishness hardly ever left him: childhood friends would visit him in Amherst, and beloved family—his brother and nephews and nieces—would stay in regular touch.

Dick did his graduate work at the University of Minnesota and, upon completion of his PhD in English in 1961, was appointed there for two years as assistant professor. His arrival in 1963 at Amherst, where he rose to full professor in 1968 and from which he retired in 2002, most certainly had something to do with two colleagues who had earlier joined the College’s English Department from Minnesota: Leo Marx in 1958 and Allen Guttmann in 1959. Dick wore more than one hat as a member of the English Department. In addition to his regularly teaching sixteenth-century English poetry, prose, and drama—the century of the early work of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and John Donne—he taught the seventeenth-century course, focused on those writers and leading on to George Herbert, John Milton, and John Dryden. His dissertation, which in short order became a monograph published by Oxford University Press, was on Italian pastoralism and its refashioning in the early comedies of Shakespeare. Every bit as important as his fine scholarly work was Dick’s participation in the staff-taught courses that anchored the English Department: English 1-2 and its successors. The assignments he composed for the staff—nearly all Department members taught a section or two—were particularly imaginative.  In his exemplary modesty Dick always credited his senior colleagues, the venerable Ted Baird and Armour Craig, for inspiring his own work in these courses.

Early in his Amherst career, while continuing to teach the sixteenth century and, in his turn, the Shakespeare course—and we note his instrumental role in creating the Folger Student Fellowships—Dick pioneered the study of cinema: he taught it regularly, beginning in academic year 1973-1974. Along with Jack Cameron and Helen von Schmidt, he established film studies in the English Department.  And with these colleagues, he participated regularly in the Five College Film Council, which discussed, promoted, and coordinated the teaching of film in the Valley. Dick’s commitment to include film as a legitimate part of study within a vigorous liberal arts curriculum extended beyond the contours of the traditional academic year and the College’s exclusively undergraduate constituency.  For several summers during the early 1980s, Dick arranged a series of screenings for local faculty who were invited to view numerous, and often neglected examples of film noir—his favorite genre. Most memorable was the work of director and screenwriter, Worcester native Samuel Fuller. Among the hidden treasures of B-movies, Fuller’s Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss, and Pickup on South Street, are filled with raw energy, openly jarring subject matter, and quite original visual techniques; they provided during many slow-paced summer evenings stimulating entertainment, not to mention lively discussions which followed. Against the backdrop of Northampton’s pioneering and sadly defunct Pleasant St. Theater, Dick Cody’s often taught course on film noir as it evolved in Hollywood, with its weekly screenings open to the public, contributed to the Valley’s cultural renaissance.  His deep erudition in film history educated the tastes and widened the horizons of our Five-College community. His love of cinema early on contributed to the artistically diverse environment we currently find ourselves living in.

Dick’s generosity as a colleague extended beyond the English Department. From 1970 through 1974 he served as the Librarian of the College, a perfect choice for so fervid a bibliophile. Almost immediately Dick founded and edited the Amherst College Library Newsletter, a forerunner of the annual Friends of the Robert Frost Library Newsletter, which grew from a 16-page printout to a designed format often 50 pages long. The Friends, on whose Council Dick long served, brought faculty, administration, students, and alumni together through the common goal of helping the Library. Not only the minutes of their meetings, but also articles about activities, speaker programs, acquisitions, and a myriad of items, including the activities of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, informed a large audience about the valuable place the Library holds on our campus. In many ways, Dick’s careful handling of the Newsletter became part of that wonderful glue which bonded our community so closely together and which explains why to many its sudden termination ten years ago came as a disappointing shock. As Samuel Ellenport of the Class of 1965 aptly remarked, “Dick was everything that the College aspired to embody: life-long relationships, a life of intellectual curiosity, teaching, and learning, a willingness to share—all tinged with a slight British irony and modesty which made Dick such a valued and wonderful friend.”

Dick was not an especially “public” member of the faculty, though his enrollments occasionally numbered in the hundreds, as was the case in his highly popular offering “Literature of the Great War.”  He never sought, nor did he attract, a following among the student population.  He did not hold forth at faculty meetings—in fact, he rarely spoke at them. Nor was he associated with some of the College’s more visible or influential governing bodies; he much preferred the Library Committee, on which he served numerous times. Rather he shined best in smaller settings—in a tutorial, around a seminar table or, for that matter, a dinner one. For fifteen-plus years Dick belonged to a supper club consisting of seven or eight Amherst colleagues from diverse departments, who regularly—to use the preferred British verb—dined, with or without spouses, at the area’s best restaurants. Here current issues of the day—literary, socio-political, and certainly pedagogical—were discussed informally, but at times heatedly.  And here Dick was quite in his element. Nattily dressed, fastidiously groomed, this paragon of consummate English manners held forth in ways that highlighted his profound love of reading and his passionate engagement with the world of academics.

On the notion of passion, one does well, in remembering Dick Cody, to recall the American writer Eudora Welty’s comments on Chekhov’s stories, and on one of his greatest, “The Lady with the Pet Dog.” Dick quite enjoyed Russian literature, and among his favorites were Tolstoy, Nabokov and, of course, Chekhov. “Passion,” wrote this Southerner who lived and died in Jackson, Mississippi, where Dick first touched down on American soil, and not far from where he spent his final years, in Anniston, Alabama, “does not burst forth from (Chekhov) as a storm, with a storm’s threat—driving winds and bolts of lightning and crashes of thunder; it is more like a climate, prevailing, all-enfolding. ‘The Lady with the Pet Dog’ is pervaded with a gentleness that can be ominous as thunder, and a grace that can strike you to the heart…Not a summation but a prophecy, (‘The Lady with the Pet Dog’s) last sentence…long after the story ends, goes on pulsing light into the world.” Richard John Cody’s story has also come to an end, but his singular gentleness and grace will long pulse light into the minds of those family and friends, students and colleagues, who had the good fortune to know, and be educated by, him.

Respectfully submitted by:

Stanley Rabinowitz, Professor of Russian and Henry Steele Commager Professor, Emeritus (Chair)   
Willis Bridegam, Librarian of the College, Emeritus   
William Pritchard, Henry Clay Folger Professor of English, Emeritus   
David Sofield, Samuel Williston Professor of English, Emeritus

President Elliott, I move that this Memorial Minute be adopted by the Faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered in the permanent record of the Faculty, and that a copy be sent to Richard Cody’s family.

G. ARMOUR CRAIG (1914 - 2002)

George Armour Craig taught English at Amherst College for forty-five years, from his appointment in 1940 to his retirement in 1985. His only interruptions of that teaching career, aside from the usual sabbatical leaves, were his serving as Dean of Freshmen for two years, and as Acting President of the college after the sudden death of Julian Gibbs in 1983. He was born in 1914, a first-generation American, son of parents from Glasgow, Scotland. He grew up in Cleveland Heights, graduated from the Hawken School, and came to Amherst as an undergraduate in September of 1933. Fifty years later, when called upon to act as president, he addressed undergraduates in Johnson Chapel and began with a recollection of how things were, back then:

I entered Amherst as a very green freshman from the Middle West, and the Amherst I came into was very different from that which some of you entered last fall. Amherst was a small town with a single policeman and a constable. There was so little traffic that on hot spring days a huge St. Bernard, owned by someone but apparently chiefly at home in the middle of the town, would lie panting in the middle of the crossroads where we now so impatiently wait for traffic lights to tell us to walk.

His experience at Amherst he later generalized into what he saw as perhaps the college's major impact as an institution--that of "taking some of the Cleveland out of the boy." His belief was that exposure to classes, lectures, talk, and above all reading could open one's imagination up to history and a dedicated life of the mind, as it had this boy's from Cleveland.

For if Amherst the town in 1933 had its somnolent dog and constable, Amherst College had two men on its faculty who made all the difference to Armour's future life. The first was Theodore Baird, whose extraordinary originality as a teacher of English made itself especially felt in the composition course he was already experimenting with, a course that would, in the postwar new curriculum, become English 1 and in which Armour would be instrumental: teaching it, making up writing assignments for it. English 1 and the weekly, department-wide staff meeting on the next assignment, under Baird's leadership, no doubt informed Armour's thinking very deeply--as it did most participants'. The second teacher was Robert Frost, a very unacademic one whose presence had already impressed itself on Baird. Frost taught no classes, and as Armour later recalled a student hardly "conferred" with him but listened rather to one of the greatest conversationalists since Samuel Johnson. After a long and late evening with Frost (Armour wrote, with himself in mind as a young man) "the student goes home to his room dazzled by the range of the talk, his head full of an excitement he would never forget If the student went again, and he certainly went as often as he could, he would sometimes hear repetitions of parts of other conversations, but the repetition would be fresh in its context and would always be new as evidence of energy, the energy of a mind thinking close to its subjects." It was one form of what Frost himself called Education by Poetry, an activity in which the mind's energies were stimulated and released into expression through metaphor, the saying of one thing in terms of another, which Frost believed to be the essence not only of literature but of science and religion as well.

Armour was a member of Alpha Delta Phi (known to his fraternity brothers as "Crack") and of Phi Beta Kappa. In the fall of 1937 he began graduate work in English at Harvard, did some teaching in the writing program there, but quickly was called back to Amherst. With the advent of World War II and most of the undergraduates called into service, the college consisted mainly of servicemen taking Army and Air Force programs in pre-meteorology and pre-engineering. But also in English Composition, and it fell to Baird, Craig, and Reuben Brower- the third key member of the department--to provide instruction. Something like 1200 soldiers and flyers took these newly improvised courses in composition, and it was as difficult a task as any of the teachers had faced: "We were not going to short-change them," said Baird, "and we didn't."

Finishing a dissertation in the midst of all this teaching and paper reading must have been even more of a chore than usual, but Armour received his Ph.D. in 1947, his dissertation a learned one on a seventeenth-century writer, the Cambridge Platonist Henry More; his advisor the well-known Galileo scholar, Giorgio de Santillana. The dissertation was, among other things, about More's prose style and in it, Armour combined his literary, philosophical, and scientific interests and knowledge. For many years afterward, he would teach a course in 17th-century poets, Milton and the Metaphysicals, but he began it with a comparison of prose styles: Bacon with Burton; Hobbes with Browne. His approach to literature was very much the reverse of a narrowly aesthetic or "appreciative" one. He loved the poems of George Herbert in particular, and read all poetry closely, in the manner of the New Criticism, but he tended to organize his literature courses as questions in the history of ideas. He taught students about the importance of syntax in poetry and prose; about the dramatic turns and tones of meaning Frost saw as essential to good writing; and about the poet or prose writer as someone addressing an audience by employing a rhetoric. He used to think and talk, in class and out, about the problems of speaking of such concepts as Eternity, and he liked to quote Sir Thomas Browne's question "Who can speak about Eternity without a solecism." His students had to look up the word in their dictionaries.

He had met his wife-to-be, Margaret Ball, in Cleveland days, and they were married soon after her graduation in 1938 from Connecticut College for Woman. The marriage was a source of great pride to Armour. Peggy Craig, who became mother of two children, Jamie and Sara, was a cook, a talented gardener, a good watercolorist, a costume-maker for the Masquers' dramatic productions at Kirby Theater, and a fiercely loyal supporter of her husband. She also possessed one of the loveliest smiles, and heartiest laughs on record. They were the handsomest couple in Amherst, no doubt about it, and in 1953 built the house on South East St. where they generously entertained members of the college, students and faculty, and where they lived until 1996 when Peggy died. Armour thereafter moved to Hanover near his daughter in New Hampshire.

Armour's teaching style was, like his appearance, striking, original, more than on one occasion surely impenetrable to the neophyte sitting in his class. This was to be expected in the Freshman Composition course, which asked students puzzling questions that had no easy answers, perhaps no answers. But his dealings with literature were comparably difficult of access. One of his students from the 1960s noted that he figured in undergraduate mythology as "a teacher of hidden truths and strange languages." He had a principled and inveterate habit of not finishing sentences he had begun but instead staring heuristically out the window of his classroom in the ground floor of Appleton Hall. Students were there, he once declared, to finish the sentences their teachers can't quite see the end of. One of his finest students, the critic and editor Richard Poirier, said that if Armour had a fault it was "that he never lets on that the things he asks of his students are so daring and unique, so beyond anything being done at other places, that then, when you get outside of Amherst, it's years before you discover how original it's made you." When Armour was invited to spend a term at Harvard in 1956, substituting for his old colleague Brower on sabbatical, his course in the 19th-century English novel was elected by large numbers of students who were introduced to questions and ways of talking about literature they could never have imagined existed, having been brought up on the safe, historical pieties of Harvard's English faculty.

Probably the most popular course he taught at Amherst was that one in the novel, and from it issued a number of marvelous critical essays--on Jane Austen, Thackeray, Jane Eyre, George Eliot, and Dickens--though never the book he hoped to publish that would have included them. Aside from a handful of these extraordinary essays--some of which he first gave as lectures at The English Institute at Columbia in its heyday of the late 1950's--and an imaginative textbook about literary history, his writing is to be found in scores of speeches, addresses to the college and related bodies, but above all in the beautifully legible comments he wrote in the margin and at the ends of thousands of student papers. He spoke of this paper-reading activity as mind-destroying but in fact it kept his mind fresh, new, always acute.

Among his many services to the college prior to acting as its president for two years, the most important was his presence on the curriculum committee of 1966 that replaced the then twenty-year-old new curriculum of required courses with a freer elective system, though with introductory required courses in Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences called Problems of Inquiry. Armour's major investment in the report was a proposed course for all seniors titled The Composition of Knowledge, in which students would review and try to come to terms with what they had been doing in the preceding three years. The faculty voted down this part of the report, probably its most challenging and rigorous--if admittedly difficult to administer --aspect. But the post-new curricular program in which he really participated was ILS, Introduction to Liberal Studies instituted in 1978. That fall Armour and William Heath from the English department combined with Joel Gordon from Physics and Allen Kropf from Chemistry to offer a course titled "Light." It met in laboratory sections, each jointly led by a scientist and a humanist, and its materials included the phenomenon of light considered first as "traveling in straight lines," then as a system of particles. In addition to scientific discourses on the subject, beginning with Newton's on the spectrum of colors, light was studied as a metaphor found everywhere in literature from the Bible to Milton, Goethe, Henry Adams, and Robert Frost. In "Light," important questions were asked about the relation of observation to understanding, of modem science to the science of Newton, and of the literature of fact to poetry. This ambitious course was repeated and serves as an admirable example of the possibilities for interdisciplinary teaching at Amherst.

Armour's openness and breadth of mind, as well as his moral seriousness, was shown as the college began coeducation. Office space being short in Johnson Chapel, he offered to share his with the first women appointed in English, Elizabeth Brass, and following her untimely death, with other younger colleagues. Wholly without the dig-in-your-heels-the-best-days-are-behind-us mentality that has been known to afflict professors, especially male ones, as they age, he kept vigorously in touch with the new faculty as well as the students during the changes of the 1970s and '80s. As Dean of Freshmen, he showed a humorous sympathy with the trials of new students, never losing his memory of being a very green freshman from the Middle West.

He was a member and longtime faculty advisor of Alpha Delta Phi but was without sentimentality about the fraternity system. Once long ago he gave a talk titled "Have Fraternities Lasting Values?" and began it by saying "It is perfectly obvious to anyone that fraternities do have lasting values. But the trouble is that precisely those values in them which are lasting, are the wrong ones." With the admission of women to the college, it became necessary to level the playing field one way or another. And he satisfied himself with his usual scruples, that the fraternity ethos had become bankrupt. So when he assumed the presidency in 1983, and with the backing of the Board of Trustees, he determined it was time to abolish fraternities at Amherst. It was an unpopular decision for some students and many alumni who revealed their annoyance that certain "lasting values" were no longer to be honored by the college. As an Amherst graduate and a fraternity man, Armour was in a stronger position to act on this matter than would have been his presidential successor. But it was not an easy ending over which to preside. The courage of his decision was met with an explicit rancor from some students and alumni that spoilt somewhat the finishing achievement of his acting presidency. But Peggy and he enjoyed their brief tenure in what they called "the big house" even as her slow, fatal ordeal of cancer became the measure of their lives.

When Armour retired from teaching, a book of tributes from former students and colleagues was presented to him. By all odds, the shortest and most memorable of these was a four-line poem submitted by a true poet, James Merrill of the class of 1947. There is no better tribute a student or a college could have paid to this teacher:

Taught to read close and to forswear the vague    
And that no truth endures except in fiction,    
A sophomore delivered by Conviction    
In Shining Armour thanks Professor Craig.

Howell Chickering   
Richard Cody   
Joel E. Gordon   
Helen von Schmidt   
William H. Pritchard

ASA J. DAVIS (1922 - 1999)

On September 28, 1999 historian and teacher, Asa J. Davis died and left this community. Asa was one of the founders of the Black Studies department at Amherst College. He taught here from 1970 until his retirement in 1992. In the fullest sense of the word, Professor Davis was a unique presence on this campus and in the Five Colleges generally.

Asa was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1922 and one could still detect just a tinge of a Tennessee accent in his voice if listening carefully. He was raised primarily in New York City and educated in its public schools. He was particularly proud that he had attended Frederick Douglass junior high school in Harlem. From those experiences, in the 1930s he remembered visits to his school by the scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the poet, Langston Hughes. As a student in the thirties Asa first encountered Douglass's Narrative of his slave experience, a book only taught in black schools in those years because it was out of print.

Asa was the product of both America's historically black schools and colleges and of Harvard. As an undergraduate, he attended Wilberforce University in Ohio, the oldest black college in America. While he was at Wilberforce, the flagship school of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of that denomination's bishops was Asa's uncle, Monroe Davis. During part of the time Asa was enrolled at Wilberforce, its president was Charles H. Wesley, a Harvard-trained historian and a major contributor to the growing field of African American history. Asa was a well-connected participant in the religious and intellectual life of Wilberforce, but he learned much in these years about the old adage, "there's no fight like a church fight." Asa's undergraduate years were interrupted in 1943 when he entered the United States Army in World War II. By the time he completed his service and resumed his studies in 1947, both Wesley and his uncle Monroe had come out on the losing side of church battles and had lost their jobs. After graduating from Wilberforce in 1948 Asa went to Harvard Divinity School where he first pursued a three-year course of studies that provided both a broad background in religious history and an S.T.B. degree, the educational credential required for ordination in many Protestant denominations. Receiving this degree in 1951, Asa stayed on at Harvard to complete a one year Master's program and then worked on a Ph. D., which he received in 1960. Much influenced by the emphasis on classical church history and meticulous philological scholarship then very strong in the study of religion at Harvard, Asa prepared as his dissertation a critical edition of an Ethiopian Monophysite text. As part of this work, Asa also examined the spread of Islam in Egypt, the Sudan, and Ethiopia. The preparation necessary to pursue that project included not only the usual European scholarly languages of French and German, but also a working knowledge of Ethiopic, Amharic, and Arabic.

Moreover, Asa also mastered Portuguese, which became increasingly central to his post-dissertation work. Ford and Rockefeller grants took him to archives in Portugal, Italy, and Egypt, where he pursued the complex early modem history of the Portuguese in Africa, in Ethiopia, and especially in the kingdom of Kongo. Eventually, this interest broadened out to include the whole history of blacks in Lusophone Africa and Brazil. Though he remained primarily an Africanist, his historical interests were very widespread, crossing many borders and ethnicities. He especially sought to understand the broad impact of European colonialism and of human migration on the history of the modem world. His writings ranged from numerous articles on medieval Ethiopia to essays and translations concerning sixteenth century Kongo, to studies in nineteenth-century West African Islam and African-Brazilian abolitionism. At Amherst, Asa taught courses on African history, African nationalism, African cultural survivals in Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean, and African American history.

Asa taught from 1962-1969 at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, where he first met a young art historian, Professor Rowland Abiodun. Asa loved Africa, her people, and the promise he saw in her intellectuals. During his seven-year sojourn at the University of Ibadan, Africa's premier institution of higher learning, Asa developed intimate and life-long professional relationships with the foremost African scholars of history, religion and African Studies. They include E. A. Ayandele, the leading authority on church missionary history in Nigeria; the late Kenneth Dike, Professor of History at Harvard (one of Asa's mentors), who became the first African Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan; and Adeagbo Akinjogbin, one of the preeminent historians of Dahomey, its neighbors, and the slave trade, as well as the founding editor of ODU, The Journal of West African Studies, based at the University of Ife. Asa also contributed to the Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, serving as its assistant editor for three years. Until the time of his death, Asa spoke passionately of his experiences in Africa in the 1960s, the period of transition from colonialism to independence. Being present at the birth of the independence of many African states forever shaped Professor Davis's interests in the story of African nationalism. Asa collaborated with many African colleagues on research projects of mutual interest to Africans and African descendants in the United States and Brazil. Upon his return to America in 1969, Asa taught briefly at San Francisco State University before coming to Amherst.

It is no accident that Asa's early teaching career was in Africa and not the United States. At the time Asa received his Ph. D. from Harvard, there was no special sense of urgency among American colleges and universities to add blacks to their faculties or student bodies. Asa's coming to Amherst was made possible only by the transforming influence on American higher education of the civil rights and black power movements, and this circumstance put a permanent mark on his career here. Arriving at the College in the fall of 1970 as a professor of history and the new chair of a fledgling Black Studies department, Asa's position at Amherst was from the outset challenging and problematical. What one learned from coming up in black schools, from being well-connected in the AME Church, or from having taught in Africa for seven years, was neither quickly recognized nor easily apprehended by most of Amherst. And, if it was Asa the Harvard-trained scholar who seemed more suited to win the respect of his colleagues, it was a match that was never fully made.

Appointed in somewhat irregular fashion, in the midst of an intense political climate, and with significant Five-College participation, Asa was not everywhere received by much of Amherst College with the usual enthusiasm typically accorded a new senior colleague. Nor, it must be said, did Asa's sometimes oblique manner help in overcoming the initial suspicion with which he had to contend. It was difficult for Asa to establish a sustained scholarly conversation with many of his Amherst colleagues. His love for his subjects was an obvious one, as was his zeal as a dogged researcher. Professor Blight also remembers occasions in archives around the country where he looked up to find Asa across the table from him (at the Schomburg Library in New York and the Houghton Library at Harvard), plowing through collections of documents. To most of his Amherst colleagues, however, Asa remained a scholarly enigma.

If at Amherst Asa remained an elusive personality, he quickly built a world of his own in the Black Studies department - and in the larger Five College black community. Here, in ways often not fully seen or appreciated by his colleagues, he was a critically important voice. At the end of his first year at Amherst, in June 1971, Asa wrote a letter of protest in the Hampshire Gazette, chastizing the Northampton Police Chiefs effort to ban as an "obscene" book the 1960s classic, Manchild in the Promised Land, a work about racism and poverty by Claude Brown. In the letter, Asa wrote with a sure voice: "The obscenity which is alleged to characterize the book," he said, "strikes us as inhering, instead, in the fact that too many people must live the life there depicted, and that ever since the 18th century, the testimony offered by black people concerning their experience in America has been systematically suppressed."

Asa is remembered as an enthusiastic and gracious conversationalist among his former students and colleagues; his kindness won him the devotion of many people. At Asa's funeral in October 1999, he was remembered lovingly and profoundly by his family, his children, and grandchildren, by a friend from his Wilberforce years who traveled across the country to pay tribute, and especially by former students. For many black students who attended Amherst in the 1970s and 80s, they came of age as black history entered the curriculum, and became what C. Vann Woodward once called the "moral storm center of American history." Asa Davis was their pilot in that storm. Such personal testimonials were repeated at a special memorial service in his honor last Sunday, April 2, during Black Alumni weekend here at Amherst College. Clearly, to many black graduates of Amherst, Asa Davis was a special - both real and symbolic - presence in their lives and their learning. After his retirement; Asa often held court among University of Massachusetts students at that campus's Student Center, talking about current affairs, race relations, or any historical problem with all comers. Some former U-Mass students testified at Asa's funeral that were it not for his guidance and listening, they would never have finished college. Asa's influence on young blacks trying to make their way in this world of higher education in the Pioneer Valley went well beyond the corner of Routes 9 and 116. Upon his retirement, friends and former students endowed the Asa Davis Prize, which goes to the student each year who writes the best senior thesis in history on Africa or the African diaspora.

Asa is survived by a closely-knit family: his wife Jane, a son, Asa, who lives in Northampton, three daughters, Beryl of Boston, Stephanie of Washington, DC, and Bridget of Amherst, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Asa Davis's life was a personal odyssey of discovery and teaching, from Tennessee to Harlem, from Wilberforce to Harvard and Ibadan, in African, Portuguese, and American archives, and from the AME Church to Amherst College.

This memorial minute is submitted by Rowland Abiodun, David Blight, Rhonda CobhamSander, and David Wills.

BENJAMIN DEMOTT (1924 - 2005)

Benjamin DeMott taught English at Amherst College for just under forty years, from his appointment in 1951 to his retirement in 1990. It's fair to say that no other English teacher at the college offered such a variety of courses and subjects: from Shakespeare to Contemporary Cultural Studies; from 17th and 18th-century English writers to continental fiction of the 20th century; from Ben Jonson to Bruce Springsteen. In each of these courses, he kept true to his belief, as declared in one of his essays, that "English" was "the place wherein the chief matters of concern are particulars of humanness--individual feeling, individual human response, and human time, as these can be known through the written expression."

Although a voluble anecdotalist who delighted in laying out comic scenarios in which he more than occasionally figured, Ben DeMott was relatively reticent about his life before Amherst. Born in Rockville Center, Long Island, the son of Gerard and Janet DeMott, his father was a builder and contractor, his mother a practitioner of faith healing ("the bitter child of Christian Science" DeMott once privately referred to himself). After graduating from high school he spent an undergraduate year at Johns Hopkins, then served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945. After the war he married Margaret (Peggy) Craig; they would have four children. He took his undergraduate degree at George Washington University then went on to Harvard where he completed his PH.D. in remarkably quick time. At Amherst in the early 1950's, he taught three courses each semester, serving as a bulwark in the freshman and sophomore staff courses in Composition and in Interpretation of Literature, where he joined such luminaries as Theodore Baird, Reuben Brower, G. Armour Craig, C.L. Barber, and others. What distinguished DeMott from numerous other young instructors who, in those days, were hired to teach the staff courses, and who then, after serving for a few years, were invited to move on, was that DeMott established himself as--in one of his own phrases--a Keeper. The extraordinary effect that he had on students from the beginning showed itself when, having completed his first four years of teaching, he was elected by the senior class to be their speaker at Senior Chapel. In a memorable talk, recently reprinted by the college and titled "Amherst and Other Institutions," DeMott made the case for why, without sentimentalizing the experience of college days, they--the about to be graduates--should feel some sense of loss, since as he put it "you have been for a while in a place of feelings and of felt connections, and that is how the college should go on reverberating in your imagination." There was no way after such a performance, added to his other achievements, that the man was going to be anything but tenured by the college.

His Harvard dissertation was about some English 17th-century speculative language projects, and his first published article, "Comenius and the Real Character in England," appeared in PMLA with thirty-two substantial footnotes to guarantee its scholarly authenticity. But although early in his career he published a few other "professional" articles, his main inclinations in writing were elsewhere. They could be seen in various short stories he published in little magazines like Partisan Review, and in the quite extraordinary number of essays and review-articles, he began in 1957 to publish in Partisan, Hudson, Kenyon, and other journals. Not only were these pieces (as he called them) not about English l7th-century writing, they were not, strictly speaking, about "English" as traditionally practiced in the academy. Instead, their subjects were, to name a few; Washington politics, New York literary culture, the phenomenon of "sick" humor, the New Math, the Peace Corps, and others. These "pieces" were densely written, exhibiting the twists and turns of a complex mind concerned to explore an underexplored subject as well as committed to entertaining an intelligent reader. This is exactly what they did.

DeMott the novelist made his debut in 1959 with The Body's Cage. This tautly imagined story about a young boy's conflict with a "healer" whom his father brings into the house to care for the boy's ill mother and younger sister, is voiced with subtlety and technical resourcefulness. It rightly received sympathetic reviews and also inaugurated a fertile creative period--1960 to 1971--in which he produced four volumes of essays and a further novel, won two Guggenheim fellowships as well as the E. Harris Harbison Award for distinguished teaching, and, to speak of humbler matters, chaired the Amherst English department for three years. The range of subjects in these four volumes of essays--Hells and Benefits, You Don't Say, Supergrow, and Surviving the Seventies, has been noted; their attempt was, as stated in the preface to Supergrow, to imagine "what was going on in the mind, say, of an adversary teacher in Mississippi, or in the mind of a homosexual's neighbors at an eastern watering-place." The "arena" in which the worth of such imagining was to be judged, he insisted, was not literary (as in this writer is superior to that writer) but rather, in a word he would use more than once, "dailiness"--"ordinary human encounter, family life experience, the supper table." Although DeMott's name would be mentioned in the 1960s in the company of writers like Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, apostles of "the new Journalism," his interests were quite divergent from theirs, whether the subject was literature or the "life" DeMott felt was too often ignored by academic critics and teachers of literature.

This concern to imagine "innerness" can be seen in his second novel, A Married Man; in the countless columns, he wrote during the sixties and seventies for journals such as The American Scholar, Harpers, The Atlantic; but most notably, at least for purposes of this faculty minute--in his Amherst classrooms. For some twenty years beginning in the late 1960s, Ben DeMott may well have been the leading critic in the United States of how literature is taught, and how it might be taught. These years coincide with both the heyday of New Critical pedagogy and of what, in the minds of many, was in the process of replacing it, the American domestication of continental literary theory. The sources of DeMott's practice, however, lay elsewhere: indeed, his thinking about the English classroom was largely homegrown, the result of his own evolving experience with Amherst students and faculty. In English 1-2, English 21-22, in the later English 11 and the English Junior Seminar, his sustained weekly participation in staff meetings challenged a generation of younger members. Instead of what he was a master of, the kind of close reading that had notably thrived at Amherst and Harvard, Ben formulated his practice of what--in the title of a 1500-page textbook he published in 1988--he called Close Imagining. The substance of this activity he described in his essay in Teaching What We Do, the volume of faculty essays edited by Peter Pouncey: "In a good class," he wrote, "the efforts of student and teacher bring an imagined human innerness alive." If that formulation makes it sound like what all literature teachers think they are always doing, you may be confident that in DeMott's hands the result was frequently revelatory. To hear him in a staff meeting evoke what lies in a single line of King Lear's very last speech, "Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir," was to be instructed as one had never been instructed. The point was not to link, as the New Critics did, the words to similar words uttered by Lear as he tries to clothe Poor Tom on the stormy heath. The point was to arrive, through the give and take of student and teacher, at what precisely are the nuances of feeling in play at such a moment.

He had written in Supergrow that a teacher "should remind himself that most [people] don't know what they feel, hence sometimes feel nothing; and the literature teacher and the writing teacher are [those] whose gifts and sensibilities are means by which others can be awakened to contrarieties and puzzles of ordinary response." Much easier said than done, surely, but doing it well may send readers where they have most need to go. For many, at Amherst and elsewhere, Ben was the most valuable teacher of teachers, whose lesson was always to think for oneself, always to be alert for classroom opportunities to come freshly to representations of human interaction. This is at the heart of his legacy to the College, and it received succinct testimony in a letter from one of his students after his death, recalling classroom moments in which literature was brought to life--moments such as the loneliness of Eben Flood's party of one, Keats's fears that he would die before his pen had gleaned his teeming brain, the fly buzzing in Emily Dickinson's scene of the end. Imagine, that freshmen would be given the credit to gather an inkling for inhabiting such moments of literature conversant in the deeps of life! We saw the deer outside the house about to spring away in Hardy, we felt the heightened erotic tension in Updike of a young husband seeing a young woman up to her angular flat. From simple, confined moments accurately drawn, to ones of more telling and grand theme, we took from life and learned what learning might entail.

It would be pedantic and solemn in a way Ben DeMott would have scoffed at to enumerate the countless organizations, committees, panels, and symposia at colleges and universities on which he served. Once asked to speak to new faculty members at the college, he was encouraged to say something about what, besides grading papers, there was to do on weekends in this small Massachusetts town. To which he replied: New York is that way; Boston that way. Ben was an unconventional academic who never quite fitted in with standard definitions of the professor. This attribute made him a controversial figure but also one of the most invigorating presences at Amherst. As someone said about the philosopher William James, "It was the unacademic" qualities that made him our leading academician." Ben was life-giving.

A former student, Richard Todd, with reference to his professor's spiffy sartorial getup said "He always looked as though he'd just gotten off the train from New York--which he had!" DeMott's schedule of out-of-town appearances wedged in around full-time teaching was astonishing; when he was on sabbatical he worked even harder, in and out of town: Guggenheim selection committees, National Book Awards, ACLS and Arts Counsel grants, gigs at various community colleges, teaching black students in West Point, Mississippi, or at Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. It was work, but for him, as for the man in Frost's poem, the work was play for mortal stakes. Sometimes the stakes weren't quite so high, and some of us have vivid memories of the late-sixties Poker Club, a monthly organization that flourished on its eight or so members figuring out new ways to humiliate and insult one another around the table. DeMott's technique was to show up at this nickel-dime-quarter game, with a fat money clip, placed on the table in plain, intimidating sight. That he then proceeded to bet conservatively and cannily added to the chagrin we felt. There is also the pleasing image of DeMott at the piano, initiating barrelhouse extended solos in the manner of his idol, the great swing pianist Jess Stacy, or--unexpected from him--versions of another idol, the angular modernist Thelonious Monk. Just a few years ago, at the urgings of family members, he produced a CD titled Worthington Breakdown (titled after his residence in the Massachusetts hills) on which he played and sang various classic tunes, most vigorously "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas" and, most wistfully, his version of "Don't Blame Me." (The latter may in fact have been a suggestion for this very Minute.)

His retirement in 1990 served as incentive for a sequence of books on, in the language of their subtitles, why Americans can't think straight about matters of class, race or gender. The Imperial Middle, The Trouble with Friendship, Killer Woman Blues, and most recently Junk Politics: The Trashing of the American Mind, are polemics filled with examples from popular culture, the newspapers, TV and the movies. He courageously persisted in the writing of these books through a series of operations, and the fact that they are currently in print (always a matter of importance) is testimony to their reach and the influence they exerted on other minds. In October of 2004 in Harper's Magazine, he published a withering criticism of how in his view the 9/11 commission report defrauded the nation. "Whitewash as Public Service," should be admired as the exemplary act of a public intellectual who, in his reading of the tone and style of said report, was also very much a critic and teacher of its English.

Saying farewell is hard to do without being mawkish or pompous or bureaucratic, so a way to conclude may be to recall some graceful and heartfelt words spoken by Ben DeMott at the conclusion to his speech to the Amherst College senior class in May 1955. They may serve to celebrate the poise of his close imagining, even on such a public occasion. He had been speaking about his belief in the possibilities of personal connections at the institution of Amherst College: And since I claim the belief I am reluctant to conclude with an impersonal salute. I must first face those among you I know--those whose taste and intelligence I have admired, and whose passing grins and waves seemed to me always to express the appropriate measure of comic astonishment that freshmen became juniors then seniors had not yet outlived their first-year instructor. To these, I only say that even the poet allows that

There is a time for the evening under lamplight    
(The evening with the photograph album)

--the moment of idle remembering when names and faces and perhaps someone's joke wells mysteriously up from the past--and that is a moment I shall enjoy.

Respectfully submitted:

John Cameron   
David Sofield   
Ronald Tiersky   
Kim Townsend


Please click on link to view the Faculty Memorial Minute for Anne Lebeck.   

RICHARD M. FOOSE (1915 - 1994)

Richard M. Foose, Samuel A. Hitchcock Professor of Mineralogy and. Geology, emeritus, died November 26, 1994. He was 79.

"Pete," as he was known, came to Amherst in 1963 as a full Professor with tenure, replacing George Bain. He came here with a well-earned reputation for starting up Geology Departments. Pete retired in 1986.

During the decade after he arrived, our Geology Department was indeed revitalized. The department was awarded several National Science Foundation matching-funds grants that resulted in refurbishing old and creating a new classroom, laboratory and office space. Grants were awarded for undergraduate research, and it became mandatory for all seniors to do a thesis. In 1965, the department received a fourth tenure track position.

Pete Foose organized spring field trips for Amherst students, including many who were not geology majors. These encompassed such varied topics as the geologic history exposed along the canyon of the Colorado River in 1966, and on the coral reefs, the beach erosion, and the bedrock geology of Bermuda in 1968, of Tobago in 1970 and again in 1971, and of Tortola in 1984. Advanced students working under Pete were encouraged to publish their thesis research in professional journals. The most important topics included the buried Connecticut River channel east of Mt. Warner (today an important aquifer), and a Jurassic-age volcanic neck near Mt. Tom.

Pete taught for more than 35 years at the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (often called YBRA), the geology field camp in Montana, and encouraged all our majors to attend. Pete was elected Councilor of the YBRA in 1951 and retired two years ago. He was President of YBRA 1985-87, and was the inspiration behind the gift by Dr. Porteus Johnson (Class of '28) to build the "Amherst Cabin". In town matters, Pete was 10 years on the advisory board of the Lawrence Swamp Technical Advisory Committee for discovering, developing and protecting our drinking water supply.

In his 23 years of teaching here, he was committed to Structural Geology and Geology 11. In addition, though, in the late 1970s, he developed a course entitled "Geology of the Ocean Basins" which caused him belatedly, and perhaps reluctantly, to become convinced of the efficacy of plate tectonics, and in the early 1980's he developed another new course, "Geology and Public Issues" that integrated his 40 years of practical experience in engineering geology with student interest in environmental problems. The latter course was nearly always oversubscribed.

Pete developed his personal relationships with students through frequent invitations to his and Dottie's home; they never forgot a name. She made the best Baked Alaska ever. On the matter of his dealings with students and their problems, he could be quite rigorous, though always optimistic about improvement, a quality some only came to appreciate after they had acquired greater maturity.

Pete's scholarly focus at Amherst was structural geology, but his 50+ publications include a wide variety of topics. He was an expert on landslides, tunnels and dams, landfills and water resources, surface collapse in limestone terrane, and mineral resources such as iron, aluminum, and manganese. He wrote an article (with John Lancaster) on Amherst's Edward Hitchcock. He became enthusiastically involved with a fascinating undersea treasure hunt with Warren C. Stearns (Class of '62), and in order for the team to find the 1641 wreck of the Concepcion, he was instrumental in designing the first hand-held undersea magnetometer.

After graduating in Chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College in 1937, Pete taught Chemistry at Northwestern University for two years, and then joined the Pennsylvania Geological Survey. While at the Survey from 1939 to 1946, he mapped geologic quadrangles, he developed information on the State's mineral resources, he completed a Ph. D. in two years at Johns Hopkins University under the direction of the world-class structural geologist, Ernst Cloos, he served as the Pennsylvania Survey's chief of strategic mineral investigations during World War II, he was Geologist for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (7 railroad tunnels were converted to vehicular traffic under his watchful eye), and he was consultant to mineral exploration companies in South Africa and the Ryuku Islands. During this time he also became an authority on predicting landslides. Any one of these assignments would have been a full-time job.

In 1946 he left the Pennsylvania Geological Survey to found the Department of Geology at Franklin and Marshall College. There he assembled a strong group of faculty and over the next 11 years, they developed a rigorous program, unusual for its day, of requiring not only a great deal of fieldwork but also chemistry as background for geological studies. Quoting from Donald U. Wise (one of Foose's students at F & M, who later became a Professor at F & M, and for 21 years has been a Professor of Geology at UMass): "Pete had a very practical approach to everything and instilled a confidence in all of his students that they could do almost anything they set their mind to. He made it almost a religion to look out for his students in terms of jobs and graduate school." While at F & M, Pete spent four years as Geologist for the Military Geology Branch of the U. S. Geological Survey. He won a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Rangoon, Burma in 1950 and a Ford Foundation Fellowship to Stanford University in 1955-56. And it was in the late 1940s that Pete began a life-long consulting relationship with the Hershey Foundation of Pennsylvania. For more than 42 years he was involved with their problems related to building foundations, sanitary landfill sites, water pollution, and surface collapse. In 1955, he got an NSF grant for the study of structural geology of the Beartooth Mountains, Montana; this resulted in his most quoted publication on the origin of those mountains.

Though Pete left F & M in 1957, his influence lingered, and in the 1980s that school and Amherst were two of the top three colleges in the United States in numbers of graduates in Geology moving ahead to complete a Ph. D. program. The third was Williams.

In 1957 Pete Foose joined Stanford Research Institute (SRI). There he created the department of Earth Sciences and was its first chair. Most of his assignments with SRI led to study in western Europe, the Middle East, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South Africa, Morocco, central and southeast Asia, the Soviet Union, and the Hawaiian Islands. The exhilaration of travel was a fringe benefit he greatly enjoyed, especially with his wife Dottie. During his time at SRI, he was Consultant to the U.S. Department of State, and in 1959 he served as a member of the technical working group at the discussions with the Soviets in Geneva on nuclear testing. In 1960 he testified before the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy in the U.S. Congress. He developed friendships with Soviet geologists that carried through into the 1980s. He left SRI in 1962 and accepted an NSF senior post-doctoral fellowship to study the role of vertical tectonics in crustal deformation at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (Swiss Federal Technical Institute) at the University of Zurich. From there he came to Amherst College.

Pete was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Geographical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a distinguished lecturer for the American Geological Institute five times. He prepared more than 50 unpublished _ consulting reports for some 20 corporations in the U.S. and abroad. He was associate editor with the American Institute of Mining Engineers and with the American Geological Institute. He gave the keynote address at a NATO symposium on the "Geology of the Mediterranean Basin" in 1982. In 1984 he was invited to participate in formal meetings of the 27th International Geologic Congress in Moscow, USSR.

Pete Foose brought to Amherst College a wide and varied professional background, as well as a keen interest in the development of undergraduate students. This combination enabled him to attempt to reestablish geology at Amherst on a level commensurate with the College's long and distinguished history of the subject. We salute his distinguished career and his many achievements.

Respectfully submitted:

Duane W. Bailey    
Edward S. Belt, Chair    
Gerald P. Brophy    
John Lancaster    
James G. Mauldon

REGINALD F. FRENCH (1906 - 1996)

Reginald F. French was born in West Lebanon, New Hampshire exactly 90 years ago today on May 23, 1906. One central theme in his life became the desire to explore, to understand, and to preserve his New England heritage. It led him to Dartmouth College as an undergraduate and on to Harvard for his graduate degrees. It also induced him, while a teacher at Amherst College, to pursue a secondary career as an antiquarian, collector, and dealer in antiques. Together with his wife Rachel he bought an old house built in 1780 as the home for the miller who ran the Old Grist Mill located down on South Pleasant Street by the Mill Valley bridge over the Freshman River. They turned this colonial building into a showplace and opened a business there, R. and R. French Antiques.

After a number of serious automobile accidents with fatalities occurred around the bridge, the state decided to straighten out the intersection with East Hadley Road at that point and in the process seized the French's house by eminent domain. Reg and Rachel managed with considerable difficulty to buy back their house from the state, to divide it into two sections, to move them both 100 feet to the west and to reassemble the structure again as their home and their place of business.

As an antiques collector, Reg French became an expert in early candlesticks, hearth furniture, delftware and pewter. He wrote many articles on early pewter for the Pewter Collectors Club of America. A close friend once observed that when Reg presents himself for the great feast on judgment Day, if he sees any pewter, he will turn it over to examine the trademark. Reg also compiled a checklist of the paintings by Erastus Salisbury Field which was published in the Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin.

Reg served as President of the Amherst Historical Society for seventeen years. He was Chairman of the Amherst College Committee which helped to arrange for the celebration of Amherst's Bicentennial in 1959. He was also a member of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association in Deerfield and the Connecticut Historical Society. He served at one time on the curatorial staff at Sturbridge Village. He also was a Trustee of the Amherst Academy - a Board which meets once a year to supervise the assets of an Academy which closed in 1868.

Despite all these intensive pursuits into his New England heritage, Reg French's major concern in his teaching and his scholarship lay in the wider and much more ancient field of Italian literature. He earned his M.A. in Romance Languages at Harvard in 1928, spent the year of 1929-30 studying Italian Literature at the University of Rome, and earned his Ph.D. in Italian Literature from Harvard by 1935.

His first teaching post was as an Instructor at the University of Missouri in 193031. He always took pride in having taught in this first year Charles Singleton who would become the leading Dante Scholar in the United States. Reg followed that by four years at Williams College and two years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska. He came back to New England and to Amherst in 1937 where, along with Geoff Atkinson, George Funnell, Ralph Williams, King Turgeon and Al Johnson he filled out a remarkably harmonious Romance Language Department.

Al Johnson was an early Amherst student of his and recalls:

"As a student of Italian, I remember with great clarity and pleasure   
the many sessions reading, discussing and enjoying the language, the   
thoughts, and the feelings of Boccaccio, Dante, Castiglione, Machiavelli,   
Petrarca - even I Promessi Sposi - et al. in Reg's upstairs northeast comer   
office in Grosvenor House.

"Reg was casual, but very demanding, always ready to laugh or to ask for a look at the opposite side of the coin under discussion. The classes were always small, even tiny. In fact, I think on occasion I may have been the only student, fortunately."

After World War II when Amherst adopted its so-called "New Curriculum" with its many required core courses in Freshman and Sophomore years Reg French became a pillar of the Humanities course. Jack Pemberton remembers:

"George Funnell and then John Moore chaired the course. We met every Monday afternoon for an hour or two and occasionally at John's home for further conversations in the evening. Reg was always a lively participant in the discussions and took the lead when we read the Divine Comedy. He delighted in Dante's poetic imagination and the levels of interpretation the poet invited, the sweep and grandeur of the poem, and the subtle, obscure, teasing references, the interlocking rhyme pattern of the terza rima. No translation satisfied him. Hence he read to us the Italian to give us a feel for the language, the interplay of sounds with which the poem was composed. His delight became ours.

"Reg understood the history and rhythms of the Catholic liturgy which he believes provided the ground bass of the Comedy and enabled him to combine meaning and feeling in his analysis of the poem.

"One matter did distress him. The Humanities staff rarely agreed to read beyond the Inferno. 'To permit our students to remain in Hell is to miss the point!' he would declare."

Reg was, of course, a member of the Modern Language Association and served as chairman of its Italian section in 1949. At Amherst, he served as Chair of the Committee on Educational Policy in the early 1960s.

In 1930 Reg French married Rachel Clapp who had been trained as an artist. In 1934 they had a daughter, Rebecca, and in 1941 they had twins, Richard and Polly. Rachel French started one of Amherst's most useful institutions, the Grace Church Clothing Exchange in 1948, and she continued to manage it for the next eighteen years. Both of them, in fact, maintained long, close, and active relations with Grace Church.

One colleague has summed up the feelings of all those who knew Reg French:

"He was a gentleman in every sense of the term - poised, easily met, possessing a graceful wit, patient, rarely showing irritation in faculty meetings even when having to report and answer questions as chair of the Committee on Educational Policy."

Respectfully submitted,

Joel Gordon   
Ted Greene, Chair    
John Halsted    
Al Johnson    
Peter Marshall   
Jack Pemberton

Prosser Gifford

Prosser Gifford was born on May sixteenth, 1929 in New York City and died in his home in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on July fifth of this year. He was 91.  Prosser was, in the true sense of the phrase, a gentleman (quite literally, a gentle man) and a scholar.  He compiled an exceptionally distinguished and broad-gauged academic record.  At Yale, he wrote a summa cum laude thesis on the poetry of Wallace Stevens; he remained a lover of poetry all his life.  In 1953 he earned a B.A. from Merton College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, then earned a degree from Harvard Law School in 1956 and a Ph.D. in History, again at Yale, in 1964. 

Prosser became an assistant professor of History at Yale, teaching African history and preparing his thesis on the Rhodesias for possible publication.  One rainy day in the fall of 1966, a tall man came into his office, his poncho dripping wet, and announced, “I am Cal Plimpton.  [He was president of Amherst at the time.] I believe in education and I think you believe in education.”  They chatted for a short while, after which Cal invited Prosser to come up to Amherst for lunch.  So Prosser and his wife Shirley (universally known as Dee Dee) drove up one Sunday, expecting to have lunch with Cal and his wife Ruth.  When they walked in, they discovered that six men were joining them – yes, the Committee of Six.   Soon after, Prosser was offered the job of Dean of the Amherst College Faculty. He would be the first in Amherst’s history.

Life was simpler then.  There were only two deans: a dean of admissions, Bill Wilson, and the Dean, Scott Porter, who was, in effect, the dean of the faculty and students. When Porter died early in 1966, Cal decided to split his responsibilities. Prosser was happily situated at Yale; he imagined he would be staying indefinitely.  But he accepted the job he had been offered and served, with great distinction, from 1967 to 1979.  During those twelve plus years, in the words of a former colleague, he “was able to represent and defend the best traditions of Amherst – i.e., academic freedom and excellence, while simultaneously being open to the ferment of the sixties in areas of feminism, anti-war protest, and race.… He sensitively bridged the traditional college and the new world of the sixties and helped us to navigate successfully through those passionate years.”  A longtime friend described his “capacity to listen with deep attentiveness, to think with nuance, and to speak with insight and thoughtful generosity.”

In the fall of 1969, Cal Plimpton put together a Long Range Planning Committee and under it, task forces that explored many aspects of the college’s life, including one on Size and Coeducation.  The Committee recommended co-education unequivocally. But it was not until November 1974 – five years after Cal had officially introduced the subject – that the Trustees agreed to move forward.  Prosser was definitely in favor of coeducation: the fact he was the proud father of three daughters may have had something to do with it.  As he later said in an Amherst Oral History interview, “It’s a singular disadvantage to men to bring them up as undergraduates when they never encounter brighter women.”  Pross was equally proud of his role in co-educating Amherst’s faculty: there was one woman (Rose Olver) teaching here when he was appointed, and 26 when he left.  Distinguished additions to the faculty during that time include Buffy Aries, Deborah Gewertz, Susan Niditch, Lisa Raskin, and others who are now emeritus, teaching elsewhere, or deceased. 

There remained two other pressing issues of the day: the Vietnam War and race. 

Bill Ward’s arrest at Westover Air Force Base for civil disobedience in the spring of 1972 (the first spring of his presidency) in response to Nixon’s ordering the mining of Haiphong Harbor received national attention---and among a fair number of faculty members and a large number of alumni and trustees, deep dismay.   Prosser “sat in” with Ward, as did about 400 students and a sizeable portion of the faculty.  At the faculty meeting immediately after Ward’s announcement that he was going to get arrested, Prosser read his own letter of protest to Nixon and added that anyone who wanted should sign, which many did.  His opposition to the Vietnam War was clearly evident, though he didn’t play the leading role.

But he did play it in making sure -- as we now might say -- that Black Lives Mattered.  In the spring of 1969, the faculty voted unanimously to establish a Black Studies Department.  After Ward became president the following fall, he entrusted Prosser with the responsibilities and authority to accomplish that seemingly all but impossible task.  How would you define the department’s mission?  What courses would be taught?  Who would teach them?  How could we compete with all the colleges and universities that were looking for Black faculty members?

In the fall Jan Dizard and Gordie Levin offered an Introduction to Black Studies; Prosser participated in some classes.  In 1970 a chairman, a Ph.D. from Harvard who had taught in Nigeria for nine years, was hired, as were two other faculty members.  Obviously, that was not enough, nor were there enough black students being admitted, nor enough black faculty members in other fields, nor enough funding of a Five College tutoring program in Springfield.  Black students and their white allies applied pressure.  During his twelve years as Dean, there were sit-ins, occupations, confrontations, too numerous to cite.  All involved meetings, some of them mass meetings in the Chapel or the gym; Prosser presided over several of them.

The last that took place during Ward’s presidency, in April 1979, the most dramatic, the climactic one, was called because he had announced that Black Freshman Orientation was going to be replaced by an “Ethnic Day,” tacked on to what had been just Freshman Orientation for as long as anyone could remember.  Students had occupied his and Prosser’s offices in Converse and a six-foot cross had been burned (by two black students, as it turned out) on the lawn outside the Charles Drew House just before the meeting.  Accusations flew back and forth. Was the decision “vicious retribution” for “actions of past days”?  Ward stormed out.  Prosser took over, calmly assured everyone that there had been no decision until that afternoon about Orientation and that it had been arrived at with the agreement of representatives of the black community. The crowd dispersed during the speeches that followed. 

Later that spring Ward resigned.  Prosser was ready to go too, but he agreed to stay on in the fall to help with the transition to the administration of Ward’s successor, Julian Gibbs -- an Amherst alumnus.  It had become clear that was what the Trustees wanted.

In 1979 Pross and Dee Dee moved to Washington, D.C where he became deputy director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  He worked with scholars from all over the world to facilitate their research and ran seminars and colloquia.  Eight years later, he moved to the Library of Congress, where he was Director of Scholarly Programs for 15 years “bringing together hundreds of scholars from around the world to collaborate on research, writing, and discussion of national and world issues,” and editing, or co-editing the proceedings of their meetings and many volumes of their essays. 

Prosser was a passionate sailor.  He first met Dee Dee at a sailing race when he was 11 and she was 9.  He crewed for the Bermuda Race a half-dozen times and raced trans-Atlantic twice, once in a hurricane-filled trial from New York to Spain.   In 2005 the Giffords moved to Woods Hole.  Prosser continued to do what he was so good at:  uniting people – “rising above politics,” as he said of his work in Washington and could have said about his work at Amherst – uniting people who were working for a common good.  He was chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Marine Biological Laboratory, an honorary member of the corporation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and president of the Woods Hole Public Library’s board of directors.  He also served for ten years on the board of Hotchkiss, was founding president of the Merton College Charitable Corporation, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Association of Yale Alumni. 

Prosser was wise, humane, and a model of equanimity.   Those of us who knew him personally will never forget his distinctive laugh, a generous, unself-conscious expression of delight.  At Cal Plimpton’s last faculty meeting, Prosser stood up and praised Cal, ending with these words: “He had one great strength – he never took the furor of opposition, lock-outs, sit-ins etc. personally.”  There is no doubt but that one can say the same about Prosser – and be very grateful for his service to Amherst. 

Jack Cameron   
Gordie Levin   
Jane Taubman   
Kim Townsend

Mitzi Goheen

Miriam Goheen, known affectionately to everyone as Mitzi, passed away on November 8th 2019. Between 1986 and 2015 she held professorial appointments in the departments of Anthropology and Black Studies. Mitzi chaired both her departments at different times and served on numerous college committees, as well as on the editorial board of the African Studies Review.

Mitzi Goheen was born on August 15th 1942 in Bellingham, Washington at her grandparents’ farm, Arborcourt. She grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, where her mother was a librarian and her father worked as a professor of mathematics at Oregon State University after his Marxist political views ended his Harvard career at the height of the McCarthy era.

Mitzi’s academic career began inauspiciously when, at the end of her senior year in high school, where she was a cheerleader, she eloped with the captain of the football team. Over the next twenty years, with the unwavering support of her parents, Mitzi raised her son, Patrick Mahaffey, worked multiple jobs to help support her husband through college, completed her own undergraduate education at Oregon State University, and eventually earned a PhD in anthropology from Harvard University in 1986. These personal details situate the paradoxical cornerstones of Mitzi’s life and career:  a white woman raised before the feminist revolution, whose non-traditional route into a male-dominated profession in academia made her a role model for marginalized female students and students of color at Amherst College; a Harvard-trained economic anthropologist with a soft spot for student athletes, especially football players; an unapologetically Marxist intellectual with a sartorial preference for glamour and glitz; and a loyal friend, for whom the adage “it takes a village to raise a child,” so central to her experience of early motherhood, defined her involvement with the Cameroonian grassfields kingdom of Nso; the unstinting generosity with which she made space in her home for friends in need of shelter; as well as the nurture and love with which she surrounded other people’s children.


Mitzi’s Harvard mentor, the Sri Lankan economic anthropologist, Stanley Tambiah, encouraged his students to take a historically grounded, materialist approach to their fieldwork. Mitzi highlighted this approach in her introduction to  Radical Egalitarianism: Local Realities, Global Relations, an essay collection she co-edited in 2013 in his honor. It also informed her fieldwork in Nso, where she undertook her life’s work and found a true home. Mitzi lived in the Nso kingdom periodically over sixteen years, in the course of which she was accorded the title ​Yaa Nso​ (​Nso Queen​). She proudly wore the ceremonial headgear she received to mark that occasion at many Amherst graduations. She also wore daily the ceremonial antique ivory bracelets she was given, until a misguided customs officer decided that they were smuggled contraband and confiscated them.

As a respected elder in the Nso community, Mitzi saw it as her responsibility to nurture and support all its members. Each time she returned, she took with her mountains of clothing, ranging from serviceable sweaters and jackets that were much needed by residents of Nso’s chilly, mountainous grassfields, to stylish and completely impractical high heels and cocktail dresses that also were much sought after. One year, she had T-shirts bearing images of Nso’s royal family printed for all the children in the community, and she always made sure that the other female elders distributed her contributions equitably. Mitzi also paid the school fees for several children in Nso, organized donations of scarce pharmaceutical supplies for Nso’s Baptist mission-run hospital, and made sure that the young men and women who helped her collect data for her research projects received ongoing professional training when their work with her ended. Further afield, she worked indefatigably to support the careers of African scholars engaged in cultural and economic research. These included Amherst Copeland fellows Nantang “Ben” Jua, now a professor of political economy at South Carolina State University; Jacob Olupona, now professor of African religious traditions at Harvard University; and Cyprian Fisy, who went on to become Director of the Social Development Department of the Sustainable Development Network at the World Bank.

The major fruit of Mitzi’s academic labor in Cameroon was her monograph Men Own The Fields, Woman Own The Crops: Gender and Power in the Cameroonian Grassfields, published in 1996 by the University of Wisconsin Press and considered today a classic in anthropology and gender studies. The study examines how in precolonial and colonial Nso culture the division of labor and property broke along gender and community lines. Men owned the fields and women owned the crops, but this arrangement, far from being settled and uncontested, was the subject of constant negotiation within households and communities. Women worked the land that their husbands owned, that ownership coming either by inheritance or delegation from the chief. Women farmed the land and sold the harvest, but the husband could assert the right to the profits from those sales. While men benefited from the sale of crops, many women had sufficient power--derived from their economic productivity--to retain a portion of their profits and to allocate some of the produce for household consumption. In the post-colonial years, the trend that had begun in the later colonial period of growing increasing quantities of cash crops led to a shift in the gendered balance of power, with men taking the profits from all cash crops for their personal use. These stark social and economic changes were mediated through a discourse of culture and "tradition," with women and men deploying different notions of what "tradition" required. Mitzi's study demonstrates how this gendered dynamic informed the complex historical process that determined systems of land tenure, external and internal politics, and marriage in the communities around Nso. It also speculates that such shifts may have contributed to the emergence of a new class of elites, as it is mostly better-educated women from wealthy families who have managed to maintain their former gendered power in the household.

Mitzi’s classes at Amherst were always heavily enrolled. Consequently, she had numerous opportunities to challenge the ideological assumptions of a wide variety of students over the three decades of her teaching career. Her introductory anthropology course was the first sustained encounter with the theory of evolution for most of the first year students who took it, and Mitzi spent hours each fall semester vigorously dismantling the skepticism a not insignificant number of them harbored about the theory's validity. Similarly, Mitzi’s popular course on African cultures and societies disabused generations of students of the notion that the continent of Africa had no culture, introducing them to a wide range of African states, each with its distinctive cultural forms and complex social histories. In her course on economic anthropology, a favorite with athletes heading to careers on Wall Street, students encountered alternative economic systems that operated successfully alongside the mainstream economic models they knew best. For many American students at Amherst, Mitzi’s courses marked a turning point in their intellectual development, the moment they were first challenged to revise their assumptions about how cultures and societies operated beyond their small corner of the world. For international students, especially students from Africa, Mitzi’s courses validated social structures and socio-economic realities they had experienced but had never had the opportunity to examine from an academic perspective.

By the end of her time at Amherst College, Mitzi had become increasingly disillusioned with academia. Although her mathematician father had been at the forefront of the computational developments that launched the digital age, she never made peace with the computerization of the workplace. To the very end of her career she wrote out her copious comments on students’ weekly papers by hand, even when arthritis made that an exceedingly painful exercise, and she could never remember her email password. A social theorist who traced her intellectual pedigree through the works of Gramsci, Habermas, De Certeau, and Baudrillard, she deplored what she saw as the increasingly transactional nature of relationships between students and faculty and between the faculty and the administration, abandoning attendance at faculty meetings well before she entered phased retirement. She especially distrusted the rationalization of college bureaucracy and our growing reliance on virtual networks over face to face communication to get faculty business done. From her obdurately Marxian perspective, she divined in our willingness to go along with these changes a capitulation to the demands of late capitalism that she feared would destroy what was most valuable about communities, within and beyond academia. The irony that these memorial remarks will enter the faculty record remotely would not have been lost on her.

Mitzi not only valued the face to face interactions, the rituals and the story-telling that were the foundations of her anthropological praxis; she also understood the centrality of food to such rituals. Many of her colleagues dined at her table, drank wine, sometimes palm wine, and saved roasted chickens from being scorched, as they swapped stories long into the night. Mitzi brought this love of food and nurturing to the classroom as well.  Long after gluten free snacks and zero calorie drinks had become the rage, she insisted on sharing junk food with her students on a weekly basis. The last course Mitzi taught in Fall 2015 was a first year seminar for a group of students who have now completed their senior year at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. I remember that they pooled their resources to buy the junk food for their last class with Mitzi - a cake covered with chocolate frosting - and to give her a card thanking her for spoiling them rotten. I remember, too, that Mitzi asked me repeatedly to keep an eye on Chimaway Lopez, a Native American student in that group, who would ferry all Mitzi’s books and bags back to her office at the end of class and then stay on for hours talking about ideas—in the way Mitzi felt students who were genuinely interested in intellectual growth should want to do at a college like Amherst. This fall, Chimaway will become the first student in the inaugural cohort of Mellon-Mays minority fellows at Amherst to enter a PhD program. We think Mitzi would have been proud to know that he is planning to follow in her footsteps, making the ideas about social justice and alternative models of community that he discussed with her the centerpiece of his future academic research.

Those of us who knew Mitzi well were conflicted about preparing this memorial. Mitzi adamantly refused to have a retirement party and she often talked about how remote she felt from Amherst College by the end of her career. However, on reflection, we realized that it was important to place into the record of our community the accomplishments of a colleague who understood her life’s work to have been about sustaining community.  Mitzi’s example reminds us that we should not have to choose between investing in valuable academic work and investing in the lives of others; that it is possible to be deeply theoretical and deeply nurturing at the same time; and that there need not be a conflict between the adornment of the body and the improvement of the mind. In addition to her son Pat, daughter-in-law Debbie, and grandchildren Harry, Siobahn, and Alfred, she leaves behind Steve Fjellman, who remained her partner, her caregiver, and hero until the end, as well as two brothers and their families, multiple official and unofficial godchildren, and very many dear friends and colleagues scattered over several continents.

Madame President, these remarks were prepared by Rhonda Cobham-Sander, Rowland Abiodun, Lisa Raskin and Sean Redding. On behalf of my colleagues,  I move that they be entered into the minutes of the faculty by a vote of silence and ask for a copy of the minutes to be sent to Mitzi’s family.

Joel Ethan Gordon, 1930-2021

Joel Ethan Gordon, Stone Professor of Natural Science, joined the physics department at Amherst College in 1957. He retired from the college in 2000.  Joel died on August 10, 2021, at the age of 91.  With his passing the college has lost a great teacher, scholar, and citizen. 

Joel was born on May 9, 1930, in Denver, Colorado.  His family moved to Berkeley, California, in his high school years.  Joel received his undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard University in 1952. After graduation he continued his studies as a Rotary Scholar at Magdalene College of Cambridge University. There he met Pamela (Pomma) Wonfor. He returned to Berkeley for graduate school in physics. He and Pomma were married in Berkeley in 1956. At Berkeley, Joel worked under the supervision of Professor H.B. Silsbee and received a Ph.D. in 1958 for a thesis titled “A Two-stage Magnetic Refrigerator”

Specializing in experimental condensed matter physics, Joel supervised more than 30 honors thesis students and published approximately a hundred papers during his career.  Over the decades, his sustained contributions have included measurements of heat capacities of rare-earth metals and compounds, ferroelectricity, magnetic properties of materials, and how the electrical resistance of high temperature superconductors is affected by applied magnetic fields.  In his post-retirement years, Joel collaborated with Professor Larry Hunter in a completely different field of experimental physics. As part of this work, Joel contributed to the elucidation of how electron spins align in the mantle of the earth.  Joel’s active research in retirement was an inspiration to his colleagues.  

When a former physics major received an honorary degree from the College many years after his graduation, he referred to Joel, only partly in jest, as “the king of heat capacities”! Joel attained this status not only through the work in his lab at the college, but also through national and international collaborations during the summers and sabbaticals.  In the summer of 1963, he along with Amherst colleagues, Professors Colby (Skip) Dempsey and Robert (Bob) Romer, carried out experimental work at Brookhaven National Lab to observe a possible nuclear contribution to the heat capacity of Uranium 235. Their results were the first measurements of hyperfine contribution to the heat capacities of actinide metals.

Not all their efforts were focused on physics research. As Professor Romer recalls,  “On August 27, we spent all day on our experiment, finally put it to bed, and the three of us grabbed a bite to eat, piled into a car and headed for Washington, where the famous March on Washington was to be held the next day. We arrived at the Sheraton about 2 A.M., where my mom had made us a late arrival reservation.  Getting up the next morning, with difficulty, we took a cab down to the mall, hung around for several hours near the Washington Monument, greeted a few fellow travelers from Amherst, and finally began to march. We made it about halfway to the Lincoln Memorial when progress was blocked by the press of people, so we sat at the edge of the Wading Pool with our feet in the water, listening attentively to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and then, as an unexpected treat, we were introduced to a rising star in the Civil Rights movement, a very young John Lewis. There was a wonderful feeling in the air that day, a sense that the nation’s civil rights problems were on their way to a prompt resolution.”  It was, of course, a naive optimism; only three weeks later came the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Joel was a visiting scientist at Imperial College and Harwell in England, CENG in France, and for many years a visiting scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley lab at the University of California, Berkeley.  

Of all the places that Joel visited for research, the closest to the heart of the entire Gordon family was their visit to Cali, Colombia. In 1968, Joel arrived as a Visiting Professor at the Universidad del Valle (along with Pomma, and their two young sons, Peter and Stephen) under a Rockefeller Foundation grant.  In preparation they had started learning Spanish during the previous months. Joel was bold enough to give his physics lectures in Spanish, which by all accounts were well received. He helped to establish a strong physics program there.  Physics Professor Enrique Castellanos, his wife Tulinga Velasco de Castellanos, their daughter Tulia and the Gordons formed a familial bond that endures through the generations.  

In his long career, Joel served on numerous college committees. He noted with special pride his service on the Committee on Coeducation in 1973.  As a member of the faculty, he thought in terms of the college as a whole, rather than in departmental or divisional terms. Collaborative teaching across divisions was more common in decades past and Joel was an avid participant. He taught in every college-wide requirement. In the Introduction to Liberal Studies program, he taught a course called ‘Light’ in collaboration with other physicists and English professors; he was a co-developer of a course called Nuclear Weapons with professors in Chemistry, History and American Studies. Joel had an extraordinary degree of cultural breadth and depth in literature, the arts, history, and politics, indeed, in all that the liberal arts comprise.  Back in the early fifties, when he was a student in England, he took a job an usher at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden so that he could afford to see the performances. A great conversationalist who was equally able to engage a four-year-old as a physics Nobelist, Joel’s breadth of interests, curiosity, and benevolence were on full display in social settings. In more formal settings, he was a talented interviewer. He established a warm rapport with those he interviewed and then asked probing questions that went to the heart of the matter at hand.  He and Pomma were gracious hosts to many college visitors, and dinner parties in their home were lively events.   

Joel served as chair of the Physics Department many times, and as Director of the Physics Laboratory for a very long time.  He chaired the Resource Letter Committee of the American Association of Physics Teachers for five years and served as the Book Review Editor of the American Journal of Physics for eight. He was a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Union of Concerned Scientists. His commitment to community service beyond the college and the profession took many forms.   

Here's an example. About ten years ago, while he was serving as a member of the Town’s Council on Aging, his daughter-in-law Elaine Leung, gave him an iPad, his first touch-screen device. When he learned that the recommended styluses were rather expensive, Joel decided he could manufacture these at much lower cost.  After experimenting with several ideas, he settled on a design, used hand tools to make about 50 styluses and designed and constructed a holder for each of them. The package was accompanied by a short ‘instruction’ sheet that includes the advertisement that the use of the stylus can improve the user’s score when playing their favorite games. He sold these at $5 apiece, all proceeds going to the Senior Center at Amherst.  It is conjectured that the Center received a bounty in the low three figures through these efforts! Joel joked that he could represent himself as a member of the new generation of entrepreneurs! 

Joel was an excellent teacher. His classroom lectures were designed with care so that students could follow the development of ideas and understand the topics in deep and sophisticated ways.  The collaborations with senior students stood out for him as the best part of the job.  As he put it, “One remembers the good students, but one also remembers the ones who were not so good but were excited by the light of learning.  I guess those students are the most rewarding.”   

He was much admired for his care and support of junior faculty, whether visitors or tenure-line, whether members of the department or not.  Joel took the initiative to promote the careers of colleagues through nominations for local honors and national awards.  Those of us who were initiated into the Amherst classroom through co-teaching our early courses with Joel remember fondly his gentle guidance before, and admonition after, each class meeting.   

In 1987, on the fortieth anniversary of low temperature physics research at Amherst, Joel wrote an essay on its history. Systematic fostering of cutting-edge scientific research was not a common feature of small liberal arts colleges in the late 40s.  But new faculty and those who returned from wartime work had the vision that a cooperative research program in a single subfield by several faculty members would enhance the research profile of the college.  Indeed, this vision was vindicated in the following decades and continues to be true to this day. Joel traces the scientific achievements of lasting impact that arose from the work at Amherst and notes the important contributions of staff in the department’s machine and electronics shops through those decades. Characteristically, he reserves the greatest praise for the many students who worked in the labs over the years. Joel writes, “Yet the most important of all to the success of low temperature physics at Amherst have been the students…[T]hose students have contributed much. Without their intelligence, their eagerness, their insights, and their capacity for hard work, Amherst’s research program would have accomplished very little.”  He notes that these students went on to a variety of distinguished careers: some are physics professors at leading institutions, one became an inventor, and another a professor of comparative literature at the University of Amsterdam.  Whatever their careers, Joel notes that all of them regard their undergraduate research experience as an intrinsic and important part of their liberal arts education.   

Professor Gordon is survived by his sons, Peter and Stephen, daughters-in-law, Elaine Leung and Stacy Gordon, and grandsons, Nicholas, Trevor, Christopher, Rider, and Ethan. 


Respectfully submitted,

David S. Hall

Larry R. Hunter

Kannan (Jagu) Jagannathan (Chair)

Robert H. Romer

JOHN HALSTED (1926 - 2015)

John Burt Halsted, the Winkley Professor of History emeritus, died on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015, almost two decades after retiring from active service at the College.

He was born on September 17, 1926, the son of Henry M. Halsted, an American businessman who was posted in Antwerp, Belgium.  Determined to ensure that John would be a “natural born citizen of the U.S.” and uncertain about exactly what that entailed, John’s mother, Katherine Holmes Halsted, had the birthing bed draped with an American flag and its legs firmly planted in containers of soil brought from New Jersey.  The preparations were unnecessary but tell us about the high ambitions that greeted John’s arrival. 

The Halsteds stayed in Antwerp until John was five when his father took the family back to the United States and a series of new homes—in Washington, D.C., Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Englewood, New Jersey.  John attended the Deerfield Academy and the Dwight-Englewood School, followed by Wesleyan University, where his studies were interrupted by service as a communications officer in the Navy.  John returned to Wesleyan following his discharge from the Navy and graduated in 1948 with the highest honors in history and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.  After completing a master’s degree at Wesleyan the following year, John entered the graduate program in history at Columbia University. 

John had acquired a taste for nineteenth-century literature and political philosophy while at Wesleyan, and Columbia was a logical place to extend his studies.  The University lived and breathed ideas, had an undergraduate curriculum organized around their history, and was home to such wide-ranging thinkers as Jacques Barzun, Lionel Trilling, and Richard Hofstadter.  There was probably no better place to study intellectual history.  John concentrated on nineteenth-century Britain and France, completing a Ph.D. dissertation on the social and political views of the English essayist, Walter Bagehot, in 1954.

John began teaching well before completing his thesis, spurred on, perhaps, by his marriage in 1949 to Betty Nilsen, the lovely woman who would be his life-long companion.  In 1950, only a year after entering the graduate program at Columbia, John took a full-time instructorship at the Stevens Institute of Technology, just across the Hudson from New York City.  There, John taught young engineers history and literature as well as English composition.  After two years in this position, John accepted an instructorship at Amherst. 

The record of John’s teaching during the next forty-five years traces the history of Amherst’s curriculum.  Although John was posted to the History Department, his primary duty was to assist in the large general education courses in the humanities and history that were required of all students under the “new” or Kennedy curriculum.  He did well enough under this system to gain tenure in 1960 but did not look back on the era with enthusiasm.  He was skeptical about the educative value of compulsion and unsympathetic to the design of the general education courses in history.  Unlike their counterparts in English and Science, History 1 and 2 were didactic rather than exploratory.  John wanted to join his students in defining and asking good questions and not simply convey fixed bodies of information.  The short-lived “Problems of Inquiry” curriculum of the late 1960s and early 70s was more to John’s taste, as were the various first-year seminars that in turn succeeded it.  To each of these programs, John contributed good and sturdy courses.

Perhaps the most striking feature of John’s teaching was how much of it was collaborative, even after the large general education courses passed away.  Nearly all of the members of the History Department active between the 1950s and 1980s taught with John on one or more occasions, often in various versions of the Department’s “Introduction to History” class.  But he also taught with at least a dozen faculty members from other disciplines, both in freshman seminars and in upper-level colloquia.  John enjoyed working with others, liked to learn new things, and took joy in discussing books and ideas with colleagues, old and young. 

Collaborating with John was a pleasure.  He drew out the best in his coworkers—holding back when he might easily have dominated, gently steering conversation along productive lines, and showing enthusiasm for ideas that may have been new to his colleagues but which were surely old hat to him.  He loved literature and wove novels and poems into most of his history classes.  He was well-read in the philosophical and political writings of the nineteenth century but also ventured into works on economics and biology.  John enjoyed crossing borders and appreciated thinkers who did so.   Perhaps his favorite class was a seminar built around the writings of Alexander de Tocqueville.  Tocqueville’s liberal politics and lucid prose appealed to John, as did his deep insights into the interrelatedness of events, but perhaps even more to his liking was Tocqueville’s discerning distinctions among the interests and values of his subjects.  John himself was much more the splitter than the lumper.  He was drawn to the work of teasing out differences and took delight in helping others appreciate the varieties and valences of concepts such as tolerance, liberalism, and evolution. 

John’s scholarship reflected his teaching.  He was principally concerned with placing better resources into the hands of historians.  To this end, he edited three valuable collections: Romanticism: Problems in Definition, Explanation and Evaluation, a volume in the well-respected D.C. Heath series on “Problems in European Civilization: ” Romanticism: A Collection of Documents, which appeared in the Harper & Row series, “A Documentary History of Western Civilization;” and December 2, 1851: Contemporary Writings on the Coup d’État of Louis Napoleon, published by Doubleday/Anchor. 

The Amherst that greeted John when he arrived in the fall of 1952 was in many respects still of the nineteenth century.  In an interview with the late Doug Wilson, John recounted how surprised he and Betty were to find visiting cards awaiting them upon their arrival in town.  He and other faculty were still expected to deliver eight-minute talks at the College’s mandatory chapel services and to gather for monthly dinners at the Faculty Club.  Much of this was quaint; some of it helped build a sense of community.  The College, however, was also paternalistic and occasionally vicious.  President King had expected faculty members to seek his advice before embarking on a lengthy trip or a new marriage.  Powerful barons on the faculty expected deference from junior colleagues.  Tenure was an utterly mysterious process.  Antisemitism blighted hiring decisions, and a full range of other prejudices could be found not far beneath the College’s idyllic surface.

John, who both studied the idea of toleration and applied it in his life, was a member of that post-war generation that gradually brought Amherst into the twentieth century--in part through the formal process of faculty legislation, but more often by setting examples of civility and good citizenship.  His influence was felt most strongly within the History Department, where he did much to heal what had been a badly fractured faculty.  John exemplified reasonableness in meetings and was a generous mentor to untenured colleagues long before the College acknowledged the need for such a role.  In recognition of John’s commitment to our students and the comity that he helped bring to the History Department, a student reading room was named in his honor upon John’s retirement. 

John’s influence on the College may also be seen in the durability of the courses that he helped develop for our first-year seminar program.  In 1978, following the adoption of the Introduction to Liberal Studies proposal for freshman year, John sat down with two biologists to work out the syllabus for a course on the history of evolutionary thought.  The particulars of that course, “Evolution and Intellectual Revolution,” have themselves evolved over the decades, but the basic design remains very close to that which John and his collaborators worked out.  Since the class was first taught, it has enrolled thirty present and former members of our faculty as instructors and served as an introduction to Amherst for many hundreds of first-year students.  After helping to launch “Ev and Rev,” John turned his attention to another first-year seminar that has remained a perennial in our offerings, “Romanticism and the Enlightenment.”  As in all of his teaching, John’s goal was to encourage exploration unfettered by disciplinary boundaries and to stimulate doubt.  These inclinations made him a master of the seminar and a favorite thesis advisor among history majors, scores of whom he helped guide to honors degrees.

John’s nickname among his fraternity brothers at Wesleyan was “the Duke,” and it is easy to see why.  A bit formal and reserved among strangers, John exemplified generosity and good humor among friends and co-workers.  He gave freely of his time and attention, was courtly in his manners, and was quick to appreciate irony, not least when the joke was on him.  “Cheers” is how he often signed his letters.  Coming from John, the word sounded entirely authentic.   Cheers to you, John.

Respectfully submitted,   

Frank Couvares    
John Servos (chair)    
Patrick Williamson


Nasser was born in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 21, 1965: he died in November of 2015, four months after his fiftieth birthday.

Nasser came from distinguished stock. His father served as a captain in the Pakistani Navy and later as a government official. His mother hailed from a prominent family driven from northern India in the Partition, an experience that later informed Nasser’s scholarship.  During Nasser’s childhood, the family spent three years in London, where his father served as an attaché and his parents attended glittering diplomatic gatherings—his mother vividly recalls meeting the queen on more than one occasion.  Resettled in Karachi, Nasser attended the Karachi Grammar School, the oldest and most elite private school in Pakistan.  He crushed his A-levels; a photo taken of Nasser when he was perhaps eighteen, shows a thinly-mustached youth with a vaguely supercilious expression and five or six academic trophies gathered in his arms. 

He left Karachi for Yale, where he majored in history, writing a thesis on Indian Muslim identity and the end of colonialism in the early twentieth century.  After Yale came his graduate training in history at Berkeley, where he wrote his dissertation under Tom Metcalfe on what ultimately became his book, The Jurisprudence of Emergency.   He received his Ph.D. in 1996 and promptly was hired here at Amherst on soft money from the Luce Foundation, with a joint appointment in the Departments of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought (LJST) and History.  At his job interview, sitting across from Martha at the old Classe Café, Nasser raised his eyebrows and muttered doubtfully,  “Cows…everywhere!”  For a time he was lured away from Amherst to Cambridge and Harvard’s Society of Fellows, but two years of hobnobbing with Stanley Cavell and Leon Wieseltier proved enough, and he returned to the valley and LJST, where he successfully stood for tenure and ultimately became a full professor.  He remained, though, a consummate cosmopolitan, traveling often to Karachi and London; still, he called the U.S. his home.  He became a citizen in the U.S. District Court in Boston on August 18, 2011.

During his two decades at Amherst, Nasser made a number of pivotal scholarly contributions. Chief among these was his book The Jurisprudence of Emergency: Colonialism and the Rule of Law, published in 2003 by The University of Michigan Press. The book takes as its subject the extension of English law to English colonies. With India, Jamaica, and Ireland as his examples, Nasser lays bare how haphazardly the rule of law was introduced to the colonies, but how once installed, it mutated unpredictably, creating new legal concepts and forms that, ironically, ended up shaping metropolitan legal theory itself. Equal parts legal history and legal theory, The Jurisprudence of Emergency was the first book to use archival materials to document how a central axis of modern legal theory—the conflict between state power and legal authority—was defined by practices that emerged first in colonial settings.

Reviewers showered the book with praise. While perhaps unaware of Nasser’s charming, somewhat antiquarian habit of writing almost entirely by hand, reviewers expressed admiration for the grace, poise and economy of his writing.  More to the point, as a work of scholarship the book was hailed as brilliant, insightful, innovative, and groundbreaking. Paul Gilroy, an eminent cultural critic, judged Nasser’s book “a work of international significance….It is original in both its conception and its execution and [it] uniquely combines historical scholarship of the very highest standard with novel and provocative juridical, philosophical and political argument.” The decade that has elapsed since its initial publication has confirmed Gilroy’s early judgment.  Today The Jurisprudence of Emergency is regarded as an authoritative work, widely cited by scholars in the humanities and social sciences, in fields ranging from law and political science to English and history.

For many of us, publishing works of scholarship is like tossing rose petals off the Grand Canyon, as our precious objects disappear soundlessly into the void. Not so with Nasser.  The Jurisprudence of Emergency had barely been a year in print when Nasser was contacted by of a group of lawyers representing the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  In challenging Bush administration arguments that habeas corpus relief was not available to extraterritorial detainees, the lawyers asked Nasser to clarify the common law history of habeas corpus in areas subject to the control but outside the territorial realm of the British Crown.  Through the winter months of 2003, Nasser worked the subject, ultimately becoming, along with a handful of other leading historians, a co-signatory of an Amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the cases of Rasul v. Bush and Al-Odah v. United States.  In 2004, in a landmark decision, the Court ruled that it had the authority to decide whether foreign nationals held at Guantanamo were indeed wrongfully imprisoned. Thus it was that the young assistant professor who had recently turned his dissertation into a book saw his book help guide the jurisprudence of the very highest court in the land.

Dedicated, then, to deploying legal history as a means of making sense of the disputes of the present, Nasser sought in recent years to study the contemporary law of armed conflict through the filter of colonial precedents.  Disturbed by Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the ensuing occupation, Nasser set to work on this project with a series of articles on the so-called “War on Terror.” Beginning with a highly original essay in Critical Inquiry on indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, Nasser challenged the prevailing scholarly attacks on Bush practices, which focused on their alleged “extra-legality.”  By contrast, Nasser’s critique was altogether more radical, as it insisted that Bush’s practices represented the advent of what he called “hyperlegality”—the subsumption of all surveillance, interrogation and combat practices under a seamless architecture of legal justification.  Later articles would apply this argument to theories of counterinsurgency in Iraq and drone warfare in Pakistan.  Together these pieces were to have comprised a second book, which at the time of Nasser’s death was under contract with Cornell University Press and bore the title, “War by Every Other Name: colonial war, contemporary conflicts and modernity.”

In addition to his systematic inquiries into colonial and postcolonial legal history, Nasser co-authored one of the first reviews in English of the work of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. With Austin, he co-authored two articles about the relationship between mercy and the rule of law, and also co-edited two books, one on questions of forgiveness and another on the question of how governments that break the law are to be held accountable.

We could go on, but an inventory of Nasser’s published work fails to do full justice to the quality of his mind.  A visitor to Nasser’s office, secluded in the warren-like bowels of Clark House, where Nasser would sneak the occasional puff of the cigarettes he could never quite live without, would have noticed shelves cluttered not only with treatises on Roman Law and Islamic Law, not only with the works of H.L.A. Hart, Arendt and Foucault but also with heavily creased copies of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen and Art Spiegelman. Nasser was passionate about the poetry of W.H. Auden, whose enigmatic poem “Law, Like Love” held a special fascination for him. He long harbored the desire to write about Auden and on the question of poetry and law. Few of his friends will ever be able to read Auden’s poem again without feeling his eyes looking at it too, without finding themselves wondering what it was that he wanted to say about it. We will, in any case, never know. Many of us know the pain of living, sometimes for long periods of time, with our own unfinished work. Now we know a different heartache as well.

That quality of mind—at once intellectually generous and profoundly unsentimental; committed and impious; equally alert to the world’s beauty as to its absurdity—drew students to Nasser.  His courses addressed some of the largest questions we can ask of law:  what is its relation to the sacred?  How is it constituted in its relation to history and historical thinking?  Can law serve as a meaningful check on the exercise of armed conflict? How does law function in an age of globalism?  He translated those difficult conceptual questions into gripping classroom encounters with our students.  Teaching with Nasser was like traveling to a new city with a streetwise friend who knew the terrain intimately but who self-effacingly always drew attention to the unfamiliar. He could generate feelings of discomfort in his students as he would ask a seemingly straightforward question, patiently accept the answer, only then to ask “But don’t you think …?”—suddenly opening a simple claim onto a much more complex inquiry.  He had opinions and asserted them; in our co-taught course on “Law and War,” he would merrily attack Lawrence as a “lapdog of liberal neo-imperialism, a defender of phallic eurocentrism.”  But however political he was never doctrinaire in his positions; his sensibility always pulled away from grand claims and toward the local, the contingent and the overlooked.  Students adored him. “His classes,” one student wrote, “will spark interest in even the most bored of souls.  Do not miss a chance to soak up this professor's genius.”  Another also used the “g-word”: “serious head candy, combined with serious overall candy:  every class was a major sugar rush. He's a genius, really.”  Steve Vladek, a former student and now a prominent legal scholar in his own right describes his study with Nasser as a “life-changing experience”—“he opened my eyes to the transformative potential of law.”

Nasser was more than a great teacher and colleague.  He was a friend. We in Clark House looked forward to his dog Buddy, a mutt whose short legs and sturdy muscular frame was not unlike his master’s body type, nosing his way into our offices followed by Nasser himself, dressed either in black Hugo Boss blazer and Hermès tie or, if not teaching, in t-shirt and sweat pants, beginning many a conversation with: “Hey honey, how’re things going?” or “Tell me honestly, am I morbidly obese?” We looked forward to seeing him in the gym, which he visited at times twice a day, pedaling away on the Life Cycle, listening to Amy Winehouse on his earbuds and flipping through the pages of Entertainment Weekly, to which he religiously subscribed.  And we looked forward to his gossip.  And his gossip.  And his gossip.

But however wicked his wit, he was incapable of being mean-spirited.  He had a gift for true friendship—he knew how to reach out in the right way at the right time.  He knew Lawrence was feeling melancholy at the prospect of taking his older son off to college and wrote the following email on the eve of Jacob’s departure.  “Have a lovely, sad, life-affirming day on Saturday. I'll be thinking of you (you phallic Eurocentric pig).  Xoxoxoxo”

He was a friend who had insight into the lonely struggles that come with private tragedy, ready to loan his ear, his apartment, and his time. Tom recalls:

He was, in his matter-of-fact way, always there to remind me, when I had one of the largest challenges of my personal life in caring for a family facing the trauma of loss, that the caregiver must also care for himself. He did this with a light hand, checking in once in a while, suggesting dinner after my young kids had settled down for the evening. I remember in particular a time he volunteered to stay with my ten-year-old son when I had to leave town for the evening. They ended up watching soccer through the night – way past my son’s bedtime—and for their evening meal, spread newspaper on the floor, and ate takeout fried chicken with their bare hands. This elegant, meticulously dressed cosmopolitan sat on the floor and pigged out with a ten-year-old.

Austin recalls:

If anyone needed something Nasser was the first to offer help. And the first to carry through on his offers.  I vividly remember a very rainy Saturday in Boston’s Back Bay not long after Nasser started at Amherst when he volunteered to help move my daughter Emily into her new apartment. He came and stayed until everything was moved in and then left drenched without a complaint. A few years later, I organized a conference on the Killing State in the late 1990s. Nasser presented an extraordinary paper on clemency in capital cases. The next day he came to my office with a file filled with his notes. He put it on my desk and said “I want you to have this. I think you will do a better job with it than I can.” He insisted that I keep it and use it. That was Nasser, an unusually generous friend and colleague, willing to share his ideas rather than to horde them.

Just before the sudden onset of sepsis, in May 2014, that ultimately took his life, Nasser had tattooed on his shoulder a line from Auden’s poem “Precious Five”:  “Bless what there is for being.”  The full stanza reads:

That singular command I do not understand,   
Bless what there is for being,   
Which has to be obeyed, for   
What else am I made for,   
Agreeing or disagreeing?

By the end of his time at Amherst Nasser had stopped worrying about the strangeness of cows, finally settling into this landscape.  He planned a course on animals and biopolitics, took in strays (some human) and to our astonishment openly pondered retiring to a farm to care for abandoned horses.  He joined his brother Omar in mentoring—and choosing the proper fabulous clothing for—his niece Iman and nephew Saif, who have now headed to college.  In recent years he returned, again and again, to care for his father and his beloved mother Sultana in their household in Karachi; and he found happiness settling into a vibrant and caring community in Boston and Provincetown with his partner Jim Milke.   

We cannot end without noting how much Nasser would have hated this tribute. He shunned cameras, declined praise, ducked the limelight, and generally worked to train the spotlight on those around him. But our true regret comes not in paying tribute to this gifted scholar and teacher and dear friend, but in knowing that our tribute came so very prematurely.

We request that this memorial minute be entered into the records of the college and that a copy be sent to Nasser’s family.

Respectfully submitted,

Lawrence Douglas, chair   
Thomas L. Dumm   
Austin Sarat   
Adam SitzeMartha Umphrey


Ernest A. Johnson, Jr., who died last year, was Al Johnson to his Amherst friends and colleagues and señor Johnson (a generic name for a Yankee) to the Hispanic world. He was a Yankee, from New England, who attended Amherst College with the class of 1939. On graduating, he studied at the University of Chicago, where he earned a Master’s degree in Medieval French in 1940. His age and experience situated him in what some (not he) called the greatest generation. He was a flight instructor for the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. In 1947, he received a Rockefeller teaching fellowship, and he went on to study Spanish literature at Harvard University, from which he got his doctorate in 1950. At Harvard, he was a favorite student of Pedro Grases, a Catalonian scholar and man of letters who had been exiled to Venezuela following the Spanish Civil War, one of the many Spaniards given to the New World following General Franco’s liquidation of the Spanish Republic in 1939. Al Johnson, when he retired, became the anonymous benefactor of Amherst College’s Pedro Grases Prize for excellence in Spanish, awarded to each year’s best Spanish student not born into the language. Al hadn’t been born into the language, but he spoke and wrote it perfectly, and he taught Spanish here at Amherst with the greatest fervor for three and a half decades, not just for the sake of the language, or because of its practical importance to the nation, but for the literatures and cultures he loved to write about and to read in the company of our students, before and after the college went coed. If Al had a favorite writer, it was the Chilean communist poet Pablo Neruda., the one who wrote, addressing the air: “...the day will come when we will liberate the light and the water, the earth, and man, and everything will be for everyone, as you are.”  Al Johnson was a Republican. He was not notably sympathetic to the social changes that came to the country and the College in the 1960s. He was a past president of the Amherst Rotary Club. He had attended the Boy Scout World Jamboree in Gödöllö, Hungary, in 1933. Yet in some ways he remade himself, in order to be himself, in his later years here: twenty years of going on and teaching at the College after the deaths of his two great friends on the faculty: Murray Peppard, German, and Ed Roswenc, history. At the time of their deaths, in the seventies, when John William Ward was president of the College and Ed Wall the director of admission, the Latino students at Amherst ceased to be primarily children of South and Central American oligarchs, to become what was called American minority youth. Then Al, señor Johnson, a yankee Republican who mixed English words into his elegant Spanish, for pleasure, before the era of Spanglish, taught courses in creative writing in Spanish for those students, the heritage speakers from Los Angeles and the Bronx-- a new thing at Amherst, which helped, as did coeducation, to bring the College, as they say in Spanish, a la altura de las circumstances, up to the level of the times.

---------- James Maraniss, Donald White, Daria D’Arienzo 



In his essay “Teaching Philosophy,” published in Teaching What We Do, a group of essays by Amherst professors, W.E. Kennick considers vulgar uses of the word “philosophy,” as in the pronouncement of a condom manufacturer: “The philosophy is that the issue of safe sex has to be relaxed before people are comfortable enough to buy condoms.”  Kennick comments, “This is not what I teach.”  Emphatic, with a humor verging on the sardonic, the utterance is echt-Bill Kennick and a wonderful gloss on his decades of teaching philosophy, most of them spent at this college.

He was born in 1923, in Lebanon, Illinois, but after his parents divorced when he was five years old, he and his younger brother moved with their mother to Pittsburgh.  His mother entered into domestic service and he, with his brother Robert, were placed in a series of homes, most notably The Ward Home for Children, a Methodist Orphanage where he spent three years. The experience left an indelible mark on him and it may be that his extreme gratitude and appreciation of the educational experiences to come in high school, college, and beyond, had behind them a sense of hard beginnings.  “I had to earn my way all the way,” he wrote in a memoir completed near the end of his life, noting also that the shame of poverty was perhaps the dominant feeling of his childhood.  No one would testify more passionately to the virtues of the liberal education that was to be his.

In adolescence, he discovered the consolations of art, especially the activities of looking at pictures and listening to music.  He took free drawing lessons at Carnegie Museum and the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which provided stimulus and preparation for the first-rate painter and draughtsman he would become.  He sang in the church choir of the Calvary Episcopal Church, being paid at the rate of three cents a service, six times a week--yielding a grand total of eighteen cents weekly, not to be sneezed at.  Although he later left the church, having decided the ministry was not for him, and though he had only scorn for the revisions to the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, he remained, as he called it, an Episcopalian in spirit. His knowledge of the Bible and of theology generally was wide and deep; indeed his own introduction to philosophy came when he read an essay by Étienne Gilson on Thomas Aquinas. He then went on to immerse himself in Aquinas, and would later teach medieval philosophy as part of his survey course in the history of philosophy.

Bill graduated from Peabody High School in Pittsburgh, co-valedictorian, and entered Oberlin College on a full-tuition scholarship.  During the summers of his college years, he worked in the steel mills--World War II was on at the time--three months, twelve hours a day, seven days a week, sometimes the 8 PM to 8 AM shift.  He would later see this as learning the value of a liberal education the hard way.  At Oberlin, he made a number of important intellectual and aesthetic discoveries, along with the delights of philosophy.  “I think I enjoyed college life more than anyone else ever had,” he has written, adding that he would never understand why students didn’t feel the same.  He read the Latin poets--Horace, Catullus, Juvenal and others--having already been enthralled in high school by Virgil’s Aeneid.  He studied Greek--Xenophon, the Iliad, Aeschylus--also French and German literature.  His entry into modern poetry was effected serendipitously when, one day in a course in The Bible as Literature, his professor paused, looked out the window where the sun had suddenly appeared, and began to recite Yeats’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” (“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree/ And a small cabin build there of clay and wattles made”).  After class Kennick asked the professor who had written the poem, found out how to spell Yeats’s name, and headed for the library to sign out the Collected Poems.  It changed the way he looked at all poetry, no longer “as a dark glass through which we try to make out what’s going on in the world, but as a fabric of words.”  Oberlin served his aesthetic needs superbly well, with its conservatory of music where he acquired a large listening repertoire and the Allen Memorial Art Museum that helped him continue his painting and drawing.  (There is a charcoal drawing of his in the museum’s permanent collection.)  He studied as well the history of prints and printmaking, which was the beginning of his and his wife Nancy’s, impressive collection.  He graduated summa cum laude in 1945, the only summa in his class.

His graduate study at Cornell was interrupted by the military where he served in the army medical corps for eighteen months as a clinical psychologist.  (He had a comic tale to tell about how this fraud was perpetrated on him and how he gained such a distinguished but inappropriate title.)  After the army he took his PH.D. at Cornell and taught briefly at Boston University where he had a memorable schedule: four sections of Introductory Philosophy, three days a week, complemented by two other courses adding up to eighteen hours weekly in the classroom. (Overworked Amherst professors, take note.)  In 1949 he married Anna Perkins Howes, who had been his student at Oberlin; they would have three children, Christopher, Justin and Sylvia. Returning to Oberlin he was named permanent head of the philosophy department, but in 1956 accepted a job at this college where he replaced the venerable Sterling P. Lamprecht who taught a once-famous course in the history of philosophy.  Kennick would teach this two-semester course, from Plato to Kant, with pretty much the same syllabus as Lamprecht, though very much in his own manner.

The course met Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 9 AM, usually with forty to sixty students enrolled.  Coursework included a number of papers in which the student was asked difficult questions about an argument in Spinoza or Locke and was obliged to construe that argument by showing in careful detail how it proceeded from one point to the next.  He regularly handed out to his students a four-and-a-half page single-spaced document he compiled titled “Some Rules For Writing Presentable English,” a cautionary list that has lost none of its relevance. When papers were handed back, Kennick, a very good user of the blackboard, explained the grades he’d given: a very few A’s, a few more B’s, quite a number of C’s, then some unmentionable ones.  Students were invited to rewrite papers but guaranteed no automatic assigning of a higher grade.  His seriousness as a teacher, sometimes felt as severity, brought out responsive efforts in his students who wanted to be taken seriously, who looked not just for a degree but an education.  He also gave courses in aesthetics, in metaphysics, and regularly offered a seminar on the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein.  As Kenan professor for two years, he taught courses with younger faculty members, much to their enlightenment and sometimes his own.  He served as acting dean of the faculty in 1979-80 and faculty marshal from 1972-1993.  His published work includes a number of densely argued essays--titled, for example, “The Ineffable,” or “On Solipsism”--and a textbook, Art and Philosophy, containing a generous amount of his own commentary.  His 1958 essay, “Does Traditional Aesthetics Rest on a Mistake?” was one of the more influential and reprinted essays in aesthetics for decades after its publication.

He found the late 1960s and early seventies a period very much not to his taste--“the most dispiriting period of my professional life,” he called it.  In the spring of 1972 during the war in Vietnam, there were attempted disruptions of classes on the part of dissident students, six of whom invaded Bill’s class the morning he was demonstrating a particularly thorny philosophical argument, Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the Categories.  Kennick invited the intruders to sit down and listen; they declined; eventually, members of the class rose up and suggested the six leave, which they did and class resumed.  During those years when, for some faculty, “business as usual” was used as a sneering phrase directed at those who insisted on keeping on doing what they were doing, Bill never wavered from his business of teaching philosophy.  He ceased only when, in 1993, he was forced to retire, the last Amherst professor to do so because he had turned 70.  This pained him very much, but he returned to teach part-time for a number of years at the invitation of the Philosophy and European Studies departments.  Although he was perhaps closest in spirit to the philosopher David Hume, in his retirement he read, for philosophy, mainly Plato, Kant, and Wittgenstein.  But his most important reading over those years was in literature: novels, poetry, criticism, biography.  He returned to the Classics, specifically to Greek tragedy and to Virgil, both of which he read in the original.  With some assistance from his brother-in-law Joseph Cary, a professor of Romance Languages, he translated a large selection of poems from the Italian poet Eugenio Montale, one more testament to his originality as an intellectual.

On the non-intellectual side, Bill Kennick loved parties, loved ballroom dancing, and in the golden age of Amherst faculty parties was a leading participant and organizer.  He liked to quote lines from a poem of Thomas Hardy: “O the dance it is a great thing/ A great thing to me.” So was cooking a great thing to him, as more than one person in this room will testify from experience at the dinner table where he and Nancy presided.  There were courses at these dinners, and there was carefully selected wine, both red and white, as the course demanded.  The accompanying conversation was full of anecdotes, remembrances of things past, various Amherst follies, celebrations of friends and execrations of enemies no longer around.  The essence of it all was laughter; the result, exhilaration.

He more than once proposed to himself that he would someday offer a course titled “Fine Things.”  Like philosophy, art, music, cooking, dancing, party-giving and party-going, Bill Kennick thought lyric poetry an especially fine thing, so he might have approved of the following short poem by a poet he admired, A.E. Housman.  The poem knows that life in its trouble is a serious, nay fatal, matter; also that there is nothing for it but to say a troubled truth with wit and music:

I to my perils   
    Of cheat and charmer    
    Came clad in armour    
        By stars benign.   
Hope lies to mortals    
    And most believe her,    
    But man’s deceiver   
        Was never mine.   
The thoughts of others    
    Were light and fleeting,    
    Of lovers’ meeting   
        Or luck or fame.   
Mine were of trouble,    
    And mine were steady,    
    So I was ready   
        When trouble came.   

    Respectfully submitted:   
        Alexander George   
        Rebecca Sinos   
        Robert Sweeney   
        William H. Pritchard

The students, faculty, and staff of Amherst College and scores of musicians, colleagues, and friends in the Pioneer Valley were profoundly honored to have Mirjana Laušević come to Amherst from the University of Minnesota to serve, along with her husband Tim Eriksen (AC ’88), as the Joseph E. and Grace W. Valentine Visiting Assistant Professor of Music in the 2006-2007 academic year.  With her passing in July 2007, we lost a scholar of uncommon distinction and integrity, a teacher of unusual dedication and passion, and a friend of limitless generosity who called us to better ourselves and those around us.
Minja’s impact at Amherst was immediate and far-reaching.  As soon as she was among us, her smile, laughter, singing, accordion playing, rapier intellect, and committed scholarship transformed us all.  This is how Minja’s students describe her:
It is hard to summarize the impact Minja Laušević had on my life in the short time I knew her.  Minja was the kindest, most genuine person I will probably ever know.  She was a warm, loving person with a warm and loving smile.  And when she smiled at me, I believed myself capable of anything.  And when I think about her, I sing louder and with more confidence.  Minja is why I love music and why I have somehow retained my faith in humanity, despite trying times.  Having her was life-changing and losing her was devastating. But in the short time we had together, Minja managed to teach me how to live. She taught me that it is okay to love unconditionally, even when you’ve known someone for a very short time.
It seems that Minja was a born ethnomusicologist and from her youth held others to the same high standards to which she held herself.  When a professor at Sarajevo University in her native Bosnia gave an essay of hers an undeservedly mediocre mark, Minja confronted him with the fact that he clearly had not read her work and demanded that he read her essay, evaluate it fairly, and apologize before the entire University.  He did all of this, and Minja received the highest mark.  While working as a ski instructor in the 1980s in Ilidža, Minja was brought by a lift operator to a remote village on the other side of the mountain where she encountered a song and dance tradition that was entirely different from anything she had previously known.
In 1988 she received her BA in musicology and ethnomusicology from Sarajevo University, where she worked as an instructor of ethnomusicology from 1989 to 1991.  During this time, Minja produced recordings, ethnographic films, and scholarship that testified to the rich, vibrant musical and social world in and beyond Ilidža—a world soon overcome by violence and war in the early 1990s.  Amid growing ethnic tensions in Sarajevo, Minja came to realize that it would be impossible to continue her career there.  She applied to graduate school at Wesleyan University, where she completed her Ph.D. in 1998.
In the fall of 1999, Minja joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  There she became recognized as a naturally gifted teacher who inspired in her students the same extraordinary love of the world apparent in her scholarship.  For example, beginning in 2001, Minja engaged her students in an unusual ethnomusicological project called “A World in Two Cities.”  The goal of the project was to create a complete aural map of the diverse musical traditions kept alive by the Hmong, Ethiopian, Sudanese, and Laotian communities living in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Armed with microphones, music theory, and curiosity, Minja and her teams of graduate and undergraduate students roamed the Twin Cities, recording the sounds of an urban landscape teeming with song.  At the core of Minja’s project was a basic political and ethical desire.  As she put it in a 2003 interview, her project was an effort both “to bridge gaps” and “to understand how music survives.”
All of Minja’s work sprang from her deep humanistic sympathies, moral convictions, and fascination with how and why people make music.  After coming to the United States, Minja worked tirelessly to make peace and reconciliation in Bosnia a living reality.  Her research combined Eastern European and North American scholarly traditions in innovative ways in her work on the musical, cultural, and religious landscapes of the Balkan region.  As part of her collaboration on a documentary television project, for instance, Minja returned to rural Bosnia to ensure that the musicians and dancers she interviewed and filmed received fair compensation for their contributions.  And her efforts didn’t stop there.  Never afraid to act boldly or to speak uncomfortable truths wherever people were neglected or mistreated, Minja also enabled Bosnian women to create a sustainable livelihood for themselves by organizing ways for them to sell their handicrafts abroad.  She helped design and curate the Musical Instrument Museum, which will soon become the premier musical instrument museum in the world and, in 2004, organized a large concert to benefit the victims of that year’s devastating tsunami.  All this, of course, Minja accomplished alongside her flourishing life as a performing artist and devoted mother.  Whether it was leading shape-note singing with her dear friends in the Pioneer Valley, performing in her critically acclaimed band Žabe i Babe, or making her duly famous chocolate and cherry cakes, Minja led life with tremendous integrity, dignity, and grace, with her beloved children Luka and Anja and her husband Tim always at her side.  What joy she brought to her music, her scholarship, and her activism was amplified, and no doubt will be continued, through them.
In 2007, Minja published her pathbreaking monograph Balkan Fascination: Creating an Alternative Music Culture in America (Oxford).  She was tenured at the University of Minnesota in 2007, at which point she was internationally recognized as one of the leading ethnomusicologists of her generation.  Her gifts to the Amherst community are lasting, and I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered into the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to Mirjana Laušević’s family. 

Jeffers Engelhardt   
Jenny Kallick   
Ted Levin (Dartmouth College, AC ’73)   
Deidra Montgomery (AC ’10)   
Klára Móricz   
Eric Sawyer   
David Schneider   
Adam Sitze

JAMES MARANISS (1945-2021)

James Maraniss was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1945. The Cold War and McCarthyism were not abstractions at Jim’s house. When he was six, Jim’s father Elliott was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and fired from his job as a newspaperman for The Detroit Times for his involvement with the communist party in Michigan. The family – Elliott and Mary, Jim and his three siblings – had to move around for work, landing in Brooklyn, back to Ann Arbor, then Cleveland and Bettendorf, Iowa before eventually settling in Madison, Wisconsin, where Elliott became the editor of The Capital Times, the city’s progressive afternoon paper. Jim graduated from Madison West High School in 1962. He went on to Harvard for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Romance Languages, studying under the noted Hispanist Stephen Gilman. He spent his summer break in 1966 as a cub reporter for the Madison newspaper, putting his Spanish to good use by covering, among other breaking news, the migrant labor union Obreros Unidos (United Workers) on their march from Wautoma to Madison to agitate for better treatment and pay from the vegetable growers in Wisconsin.

Jim moved on to Princeton for his doctorate in Spanish. He arrived at Amherst College in 1972, the “last person hired through an intra-Ivy telephone call,” as he himself characterized it (1990 Senior Awards speech). He was ABD and newly wed to Virginia “Gigi” Kaeser, a fellow Madisonian whom he’d met in the ninth grade at West High; they had their wedding reception at Miss Flo’s Diner in Florence. Jim finished his Ph.D. in 1975 with a dissertation on the early modern Spanish dramatist Pedro Calderón de la Barca, under the direction of Edmund King at Princeton. He adapted his doctoral work into his book, On Calderón, published in 1978, a cogent and meticulous appreciation of the playwright, with some thoughtful reflection on Calderón’s rival Lope de Vega as well. Although Jim’s scholarly work would range well beyond early modern Spain over the course of his career, he eventually found his way back to Calderón.

The Maraniss family’s political activism and early forced wanderings would have a deep impact on Jim. His uncle on his mother’s side, Bob Cummings, volunteered to go to Spain to fight with the Republic against Francisco Franco in 1937. Jim always wove his Uncle Bob and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade into his course on the Art, Politics and Violence of the Spanish Civil War. His brother would become a successful biographer and Jim’s pride. In David Maraniss’s 2019 book A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father, Jim recalls: “‘I remember being told by a kid down the block...that my dad was a communist. ... When I went home, whimpering, and Dad asked me what the matter was, I replied that someone said my father was a communist. Dad told me he wasn’t. Then he asked me if it would matter if he were. I said no. (What was I going to say?) From that moment, or before that, I felt emotionally allied with my ‘subversive’ parents.’” (149)

Jim had an anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide. He was irreverent, not terribly fond of faculty meetings or of convention for the sake of convention. He was something of a shoe-leather academic. After the success of his book, Jim branched out into the literary essay form, his particular narrative voice ringing true on every page. He wrote song lyrics, poems, short stories and personal essays, not to mention an opera libretto.

Jim had an ear that absorbed music like air. His collaboration with Lew Spratlan, Amherst Professor of Music, began in 1975, when their two families lived next door on Woodside Avenue. Jim’s deep and intimate knowledge of Calderón’s La vida es sueño allowed him, like an alchemist, to transform the elevated diction of Golden Age Spanish into elevated, but magically colloquial English. Jim’s language carried its own music. The opera’s hero, Segismundo, exiled by his father and chained to a tower in the wilderness, cries:


Was it my birth that angered you?   
Were not all others born as well?   
What license have they then deserved   
that I have never known?


With freedom I’d be a giant.   
On stone foundations I’d build mountains of jasper,   
climbing to burst the crystal windows of the sun!

Lew’s task was to find the right notes and scoring to reveal the music already alive in the text. Life is a Dream emerged from the kitchen table collaborations the two colleagues had in Amherst faculty housing to win a Pulitzer Prize in 2000. Jim was in attendance in the spring of 2010 when it was finally staged in a full production by the Santa Fe Opera at its majestic open-air theater.

Jim’s collaboration with Antonio Benítez-Rojo, exiled Cuban writer and Amherst Professor of Spanish until his death in 2005, would become another sustaining force. As Jim put it: “I was bored with being an academic until I began a new life as his translator, and in a sense his presenter to the English-speaking world.” Their partnership began with a translation of the short story “Gentleman’s Agreement” for the New England Review, and would extend to Antonio’s novels and essays, most notably his 1979 novel El Mar De Las Lentejas, published a decade later in translation as Sea of Lentils. Jim called their partnership a “deeper connection: that of writer and translator, a bond that no one else will ever really know” (“Translating Antonio Benítez-Rojo,” Small Axe 130). Translating for Antonio would take Jim to Cuba, to Afro-Caribbean polyrhythms, to the cadences of the medieval Spanish romanceros. The two men were bound by language, friendship and music; translating Antonio’s words breathed new life into Jim’s scholarship and tapped into the joy he found in theater, sports, poetry and politics.

During a sabbatical year in the ’90s, Jim and Gigi, along with two of their four kids, returned to Madison. Jim put on his fedora and wrote a series of columns for The Cap Times called “Back Then.” He highlighted the boldfaced names of his youth in his columns, reveling in the common decency of midwesterners and delighting in the city on an isthmus that had welcomed his family after their peripatetic years following the HUAC trials. Jim wrote about working the swing shift on the baloney line at Oscar Mayer in the 1960s, about his high school Spanish and English teachers – Gretchen Schoff in particular –, and about the impact of the social mores of University of Wisconsin students on impressionable townies. His editor, Dave Zweifel, wrote that the “columns ... were an immediate hit, generating comments and letters from nostalgic readers” (Zweifel 2022). Everyone who knew Jim saw those columns – he had a scrapbook of them that he brought out at every opportunity. He was terribly proud of the writing he’d done in homage to the Madison of his youth.

Jim’s classes for Spanish and European Studies were the stuff of urban legend. He was, as one former student put it, “basically the coolest professor of all time” (Kendall 2022). Students from all walks of life flocked to his courses; he welcomed them and made them integral to an endlessly unspooling discussion. His enormous gifts as a teacher were self-evident.  A typical Maraniss class would begin with a light presentation of his views about various aspects of the day’s topic.  But the remainder of the class became an extended conversation with the students where, in the most natural way, taking off from Jim’s initial observations, they jointly built a reading or readings of the material, interpretations owned by the students.

He could teach anything. Paul Rockwell’s First Year Seminar on “The Implications of Origins” rotated through a number of guest lectures by Amherst professors teaching topics like the Bible, Rousseau, and the Big Bang. Jim taught film regularly at the College at a time when there were very few courses in film; Paul asked Jim to suggest something for the course. Jim’s contribution was Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. It turned out that the film and Jim’s presentation were not only entertaining, but worked beautifully with the course. It was typical Jim, who had a knack for spotting large themes in popular culture and other unusual places.

Dressed in his trademark chinos and ball cap, slouched at an angle in his chair, Jim delivered sotto voce the most remarkable observations about literature and life. He could spontaneously quote whole reams of verse or cite streams of sports statistics. He loved his students and commanded attention without demanding it. He could seem indolent, but he was easily one of our most brilliant colleagues. His ambition was to urge others to share his enthusiasm and appreciation for fine composition in all its forms. He succeeded in making his gifts as a scholar, writer, translator, and teacher evident to all privileged to overhear his mind’s conversation with itself. One of the secrets of Jim’s effectiveness as a teacher was his utter lack of pretension or, as he would have preferred to call it, "bullshit.” He never told you what you wanted to hear, or tried to massage you, or oiled or angled his way into your confidence. He always assumed that you were, like him, in earnest. That assumption won the attention and respect of students. To the charge that he got good enrollments because he gave a lot of A grades, Jim would say, “Who cares?” If students came for an easy grade but, in the process, learned about subjects they would never have encountered — Calderón, Buñuel, the Spanish Civil War — Jim was delighted. 

In his fearless Senior Assembly Speech in 1990, Jim cheekily told the seniors gathered in Johnson Chapel: “you’ve failed to win a prize... [and] your families are about to arrive and spoil your last days here.” Jim’s unique wit was on full display that day. So was his deep and abiding love of Amherst, its community and traditions. This campus was the home he’d sought for so many years, a place where an open office door was an invitation to sit a spell and chat; alums were lifelong friends he could visit tent to tent at Homecoming and Reunion; and encounters with colleagues, staff and students were opportunities to rummage through his collected years of wisdom and experience.

If we should wonder “What is life?” perhaps the words of Calderón via Jim’s translation in Act III of Life is a Dream will guide us: “What is life? An illusion. A shadow. A fiction. And the greatest good is small, for all life is a dream and dreams are only dreams.”

President Martin, I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a vote of silence (or, if Jim’s spirit stirs you, a round of applause), that it be entered in the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to Professor Maraniss's family.

Respectfully submitted,

Sara Brenneis   
Lewis Spratlan   
Frank Couvares   
Nicola Courtright

With appreciation to

Dale Peterson   
Paul Rockwell   
George Greenstein   
Bill Taubman



PETER K. MARSHALL (1934 - 2001)

Peter Marshall, our late John Andrew Moore Professor of Latin and Classics, was a modest man who did not want to be honored through a memorial service. He was more likely to speak of his failure in battling a groundhog in his garden than to tell you that he had just had another book published. In this memorial minute, we will honor his wishes by speaking briefly and quietly about our remarkable colleague.

Peter K. Marshall was born in Cardiff, Wales, on July 2, 1934. As a student at Canton High School, he excelled at his classwork and also in chess, and he became a champion of Wales as a competitor in international tournaments. Accepted at Oxford University at age 15, he began his studies there, but soon became homesick and returned to Wales. He received his first B.A. from the University of South Wales, and then moved on to Wadham College at Oxford, where he studied with, among others, Roger Mynors, receiving a B.A. with First Class Honours in 1956 and an M.A. in 1960. By then he had already moved on to the United States and joined the faculty at Amherst College, where, apart from a year at the University of Liverpool, he spent the rest of his career.

When Peter came to Amherst in 1959, he taught a variety of courses in Greek and Latin and also assumed responsibility for a survey course in Roman Civilization that had been offered at the College in one form or another since 1918. On Peter's watch, the course was immensely popular, sometimes attracting as many as 240 students, well over 15 % of the student body. Students came to learn about Latin literature and Roman history and their influence on later western civilization, and also to hear Peter's anecdotes about people of all times and places, from ancient Rome to twentieth-century Oxford. His dry wit and tautly dramatic style of lecturing left indelible impressions on four decades of Amherst students. Quite a few have followed his lead in going to Oxford to study or in becoming classicists, or both; one of them, Peter Derow, now holds the chair once held by one of Peter's own mentors, George Forrest, at Wadham College.

Peter typically arrived early for class and strolled up and down the hall outside his classroom in Converse, pausing to say hello to the Economics secretary or to various colleagues in the building. Then his students began to assemble. As they came in, he chatted with them, sometimes about a paper for class, but more often about their weekend, vacation, or families. Peter was a master at this kind of casual conversation, something all too rare in the intense academic world. These genial encounters and the warmth of Peter's interest meant a great deal to people in all parts of our community.

Some of the students Peter came to know well, not all of them Classics majors; he could establish rapport with students of all kinds. For years he served as a house advisor to the Chi Psi fraternity, famed for its bestial style of lobster feasts at which no utensils were provided. Peter's wife Nadia tells the story of Peter's struggle with a lobster claw, finally stepping on it to squeeze out the meat, which resulted in firing the meat across the room and directly into the cheek of a young woman, who promptly slapped the young man beside her. Peter always spoke fondly of these occasions.

Members of the Faculty also got to know Peter through working with him on committees. Peter never enjoyed committee service, but he was good at it, as anyone who ever served with him knows. Whether on the Housing Committee, the Committee on Priorities and Resources, or the various ad hoc and search committees on which he served, Peter was not only awake and attentive but effective in his contributions; when he was in the chair, as he often was, he ran an orderly and no-nonsense show. His reports to the Faculty were clear, intelligent, witty, and always to the point; they were worth listening to since their subtle humor repaid attention. He also served selflessly in the most thankless labor of all, Faculty Parliamentarian, for eight years.

One labor for the College that Peter did enjoy was his work with the Amherst College Library. He was involved in the Library deeply and in many ways. Not only did he make much use of the Library and expect and encourage his students to do the same, but also treated librarians as partners in the enterprise of scholarship and learning. He was a true bibliophile and a sophisticated collector of books, and from time to time he drew from his collection to make donations to the College; most recently, he gave the early printed editions of Cornelius Nepos which he had used to produce his Teubner edition. Peter's close association with the Library is also reflected in his more than twenty-five years of service to the Friends of the Amherst College Library, as a judge of the annual student book-collecting contest. His experience and savvy in this field were of enormous help to his fellow judges, as well as to the students whose collections he encouraged and admired.

As a scholar, Peter's specialty was textual criticism. Not infrequently he would remind his students and colleagues of the shaky ground lying under some of the texts we were reading; his own work was directed primarily to improving upon that situation. Peter's achievements in this field are extraordinary. His thorough and rigorous investigations uncovered new manuscripts and brought order to the tangle of manuscripts already known. His work has given us editions in all three of the major publishing houses of classical texts: Aulus Gellius, with Oxford, Cornelius Nepos and Hyginus, both with Teubner, Isidore of Seville, in the Bude series, and Servatus Lupus, again with Teubner. It is worth noting that in editing these authors he had to demonstrate his command of a thousand years of Latin; he was interested not only in the classical authors, but especially in the ancient writing on classical authors, which took him through the medieval period. In his last years, he worked particularly on the medieval commentator on Virgil, Servius, and his influence on subsequent work on Virgil; his book Servius and Commentary on Virgil came out in 1998. His last article, on a little-known Servius manuscript written in an Anglo-Saxon hand, will appear in Rivista di filologia e di istruzione classica shortly. He did not live to complete his work on Aeneid 6-8 for the Harvard edition of Servius. Much of Peter's work was intended for specialists, but his first book, a translation of Sir Thomas More's Utopia, became a bestseller.

Peter became an American citizen on November 4, 1993, but he was a Life Member of the Classical Association of Great Britain and he crossed the Atlantic regularly. His work required him to inspect manuscripts in cities around the world and he traveled and lived in various countries during summers and sabbaticals, often with the support of grants, including, in 1980, a Guggenheim Fellowship. He wasted nothing in these opportunities.

He and Nadia always returned from their travels with work accomplished and vivid tales of things they had seen and meals they had enjoyed. Peter's work was exacting and painstaking, but so efficient that he always had time to live a full life.

In the end, it was clear that the life Peter had chosen suited him beautifully. He was diagnosed with a virulent form of prostate cancer in May, 2000, and his doctor advised him that, while he did have hope of successful treatment, he thought that Peter should now be sure to do the things he wanted to do with his life. Peter didn't change a thing. He continued his teaching, his scholarship, his walks with Hector the dog, his travels with Nadia and his life with her in the countryside of western Massachusetts, as these things that he had been doing were, in fact, the things he most wanted to do.

When Peter died last spring, he had been teaching at Amherst for nearly forty-two years. He had had difficulties with his health over the winter break but had begun the spring semester nonetheless, still eager to meet with his students and continue his teaching. When he had to withdraw after the second week of class, the Department and he had in mind that he would return to his teaching this fall. His last written words were in a book he inscribed and gave to a student whose thesis he had been advising, a book he had bought to help them both in their work together last year. Our colleague, Peter Marshall, lived as fully as anyone can throughout all the time he had, gladly participating in the life of this College and especially in the scholarship and teaching he loved.

This memorial minute is submitted by William Kennick, John Lancaster, Rebecca Sinos, Frank Westhoff, and Donald White.


To be updated soon.


RAY A. MOORE (1933-2020)

Ray A. Moore, Professor Emeritus of History and Asian Languages and Civilizations, passed away on January 7, 2020. Born in 1933 into a family of tenant farmers in Axtel, Texas, Ray grew up in poverty during the height of the Great Depression. Seeking a better life, he enlisted in the US Army at the age of 14, having misrepresented his age. He was sent to Japan with the onset of the Korean War, and Ray’s brief time there, especially in the city of Kyoto, forged a life-long interest in the country and its language. His time there coincided with the final years of the US-led occupation, which later became the principal focus of his scholarly work. Eventually sent to Korea, Ray was posted to Geoje-do POW camp, where he witnessed first-hand the Geoje Uprising by Communist prisoners in early 1952. The killing of unarmed prisoners by US military forces deeply affected Ray, and upon his honorable discharge in 1952 he deposited all of his medals and awards in the nearest wastebasket as he left Ft. Lawton, Washington. Ray would later passionately protest the Vietnam War.

Ray commenced his college education with the aid of the GI Bill at Sophia University and International Christian University, both in Tokyo, where he focused on mastering the Japanese language. He later transferred to the University of Chicago. It was during this time in the Windy City that Ray met and married his wife, Ilga. Married for 46 years, they raised two sons, Mark and Kenneth, and shared a life-long passion for climbing mountains and running marathons. Together they completed several Marine Corps and Boston Marathons. They also walked the Ohenro pilgrimage, a route that links 88 Buddhist temples around the island of Shikoku in Japan.

Ray was frustrated with the absence of courses on Japan at the University of Chicago and transferred to the University of Michigan in 1957, attracted by the renowned Center for Japanese Studies there. Ray would go on to complete his AB and earn the MA, and Ph.D. degrees from Michigan. Under the influence of his mentor, John Whitney Hall, Amherst Class of 1939, who was a leading historian of early-modern Japan, Ray’s doctoral dissertation studied the intersection of samurai discontent and social mobility in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Hall, who moved to Yale in 1961, paved the way for Ray to join the faculty at Amherst College to teach East Asian History in 1965. Ray writes in his memoir that the chair of the History Department, Edwin Rozwenc, told him that the college was looking for someone who “has command of the Japanese language and whose research interests are in the field of Japanese history.” Rozwenc also added that the college was looking for someone who could further develop the long relationship Amherst had with Doshisha University in Kyoto. Ray embraced the charge, vigorously expanding the curricular footprint of Asia at the college and creating a study abroad program that continues to send Amherst students to Doshisha University today.

Ray became a strong voice for the importance of the study of Asia, not only in the curriculum of the History Department but across the college and the Five Colleges. Upon receiving tenure in 1969, Ray pressed for the creation of a line in Chinese History at the college, citing a dramatic imbalance in a curriculum that favored Western history. In the face of resistance, Ray simply refused to teach Chinese history. The boycott worked and the history department requested a position dedicated to China the following year. He also secured external funding from the Fulbright Commission and the US Office of Education to begin language instruction in Japanese and Chinese and worked tirelessly to create the Five College Center for East Asian Studies. Of particular importance was the central role he played in the establishment of the Program in Asian Studies which would become the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations in 1989.

An equally significant part of Ray’s legacy was the creation of the Associated Kyoto Program, the first year-long study abroad program for undergraduates in Japan. Ray fervently believed that the opportunities provided to him to learn the Japanese language should be afforded to Amherst students as well. When he attempted to support a student’s petition to spend a junior year abroad in 1965, however, Ray was rebuffed by the Dean of the College, who reportedly said, “Professor Moore, Amherst education is at Amherst.” The arrival of Prosser Gifford as dean, however, soon produced more favorable conditions for developing study abroad opportunities for Amherst students. Collaborating with colleagues at Carleton College, Connecticut College, Mount Holyoke College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College, and taking advantage of the close ties between Doshisha and Amherst, Ray worked to ensure the success of the Associated Kyoto Program over many years. The AKP was distinctive in a number of ways: the resident director was provided by one of the consortium schools, each of the students was expected to live with a Japanese family, and visiting faculty were recruited from consortium schools, thereby exposing them to Japanese culture and thus further strengthening the place of Asian studies on their home campuses. In 1971, the inaugural year of the program, fifteen students studied in Kyoto, confirming Ray’s conviction that American undergraduates wanted to study in Japan. The consortium expanded over the years, and by 2020 1,718 students had participated in the program, 117 of which were from Amherst. Many of those have gone on to careers in Japanese studies. It is fair to say that Ray was visionary in developing a study abroad program that many institutions of higher learning have gone on to emulate.

Ray’s scholarship primarily focused on the history of the American-led occupation of Japan following the Second World War. Beginning with a 1978 article in the Journal of Asian Studies, Ray played a central role in shaping the scholarly conversation around the history of the occupation. He organized a conference at Amherst College involving some thirty Japanese and American specialists in 1980. Ray edited a collection of the conference papers for a Japanese-language volume, The Day the Emperor Read the Bible, published by Kodansha in 1983. Ray’s largest scholarly project focused on the creation of the 1947 Japanese constitution during the occupation. In collaboration with Donald Robinson from Smith College, Ray gathered and edited an 8,000-page documentary record, published by Princeton University Press in 1998 as The Constitution of Japan: A Documentary History of its Framing and Adoption, 1945-1947. It remains a standard scholarly reference for the subject. This was followed by an interpretive volume, also in collaboration with Donald Robinson, entitled Partners for Democracy: Crafting the New Japanese State under MacArthur, published by Oxford University Press in 2002. In 2011, Ray published one final scholarly work, Soldier of God: MacArthur’s Attempt to Christianize Japan

Perhaps one of the most lasting imprints Ray has left upon Amherst College is the Yushien garden, which he envisioned as a way to commemorate the college’s long-standing ties to Japan. Although Ray’s initial vision of “borrowing the scenery” of the Holyoke Range in keeping with the traditional mode of Japanese gardens was rejected, the siting of the garden between Webster Hall and Kirby Theater has nonetheless provided a dramatic attraction to students and visiting alumni alike. Dedicated in 2002, Ray selected the name Yushien, which translates to “the spirit of friendship garden.” Ray gave back in others ways as well and the college recognized Ray and Ilga as Johnson Chapel Associates in celebration of their generous gifts to the college in support of Japanese studies.

Following his retirement from the college in 2004, Ray remained active in the community and was a regular participant in the Five Colleges Learning in Retirement Program. In 2012, the government of Japan awarded Ray the Order of the Rising Sun, a medal presented by the emperor of Japan since 1875 to honor lifetime contributions to US-Japanese friendship. It is a fitting tribute to a career spent building programs that continue to connect Amherst College and its students to Japan. Ray's commitment to Japan has ensured that a relationship with the country that began in the mid-nineteenth century with the arrival of Neesima Jo in 1865 is now an important part of the college's curriculum.

Respectfully submitted,

Trent E. Maxey   
Samuel C. Morse   
Wako Tawa

FRANKLIN ODO (1939-2022)

Although he was skeptical of an inherent Aloha Spirit, Franklin Odo well embodied the sense of care and connectedness aloha represents. Born in 1939 in the territory of Hawai’i to kibei parents, second-generation Japanese Americans educated in Japan, his life was defined by unselfish commitment to others and to building: careers, departments, programs, institutions, organizations, and a field.  The “Johnny Appleseed of Asian American Studies,” as someone dubbed him. 

He grew up on his family’s small vegetable farm in Koko Head, near Honolulu, a promising and popular youth, and the student government president at Kaimukï High School. Upon graduation, he made the extraordinary journey from rural territorial Hawai’i to Princeton University, where Franklin earned a B.A. in Asian Studies in 1961 and charmed himself into the elite Ivy Club, the beginning of a lifetime of improbable entry into some of the nation’s most exclusive spaces. He continued his studies at Harvard University, where he received a master’s in East Asian Regional Studies in 1963. He was later awarded his Ph.D. from Princeton in History, where he studied Japanese feudalism and seemed well on his way to a promising career as an East Asian specialist. However, the tumultuous 1960s propelled Franklin into the emergent field of ethnic studies and the social movements seeking to transform American society.  While completing his doctorate, Franklin and his family were immersed in the civil rights and antiwar movements, and he emerged as a pioneer of Asian American Studies. 

Franklin began a series of appointments in the field, beginning in 1968 with a two-year appointment at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He next spent two years at the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, a seminal site in the development of Asian American Studies. During this time, he coedited the groundbreaking Asian American Studies volume, Roots: An Asian American Reader, the first Asian American Studies text designed for classroom instruction. The collection went through twelve printings.  

From 1972 to 1978, he was director of Asian American Studies at Cal-State Long Beach. Then, he and his family relocated to his native Hawai’i where he directed the establishment of the Ethnic Studies department at University of Hawai’i-Manoa, building a program with deep collaborative connections to the local community, and where he mentored a new generation of scholars. 

In the mid-1990s, Franklin returned to the mainland and held several professorships, including at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Princeton University, before becoming the founding Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Program from 1997 to 2010. He was also curator at the National Museum of American History, the first Asian American curator, and during this period published his highly regarded monograph, No Sword to Bury: Japanese Americans in Hawai’i during World War II (2004). It was followed by his 2013 work, Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai’i, which examined the holehole bushi songs of immigrant Japanese sugar cane plantation laborers. 

With his keen mind, savvy leadership skills, and inestimable energy, he helped establish Asian American Studies as well as a visible and nuanced public history of the Asian American experience. Under Franklin’s leadership, the Smithsonian launched several groundbreaking exhibits, and he raised millions of dollars to fund them. He consulted on numerous local and national public history projects and directed the inaugural National Park Service’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Theme Study, designed to identify related sites for designation as National Historic Landmarks.  He served on numerous boards and commissions and received grants for his scholarship, as well being honored for his lifetime service by the Japanese American Citizens League, the Organization of Chinese Americans, and the Association for Asian American Studies, for which he served as president. At the Smithsonian, as he did in academe, he established himself as both a respected leader and an unwavering mentor, his office a sanctuary to many employees across the organization. He encouraged, counseled, and promoted the careers of scores: graduate students, junior and senior scholars, museum professionals, activists, and at the end of his unique career, Amherst College students. In March 2023, both chambers of the Hawai’i state legislature paid homage to Franklin’s legacy, and State Senator Carol Fukunaga recounted Franklin’s words, “the true spirit of any kind of democracy is to have people be autonomous at the same time that they know that they're dependent on the community around them.” Johnny Appleseed, indeed. And, fortunately, for us, like Johnny Appleseed, he made western Massachusetts his home. 

Franklin came to Amherst in 2015, as the John J. McCloy Visiting Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy in the Department of American Studies, and in recognition of his tremendous impact, especially with students, was later appointed the John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer. He held that position until his passing on September 28, 2022. Though his time at Amherst was comparatively brief, as he did in so many other places, Franklin Odo impacted the lives of many at Amherst and left it better through his influence. 

He arrived on campus at a pivotal moment, the period of Amherst Uprising, as the college strained to meet the needs of its increasingly diverse student body. Franklin proved an invaluable resource to students, especially Asian Americans who found strength in his tales of negotiating the most privileged spaces of American society, while remaining himself, the jocular and curious kid from Kaimukï High. He was to them like the hip grandparent they never had, a respected elder who also could relate to their common concerns and counsel them inside and outside of the classroom through his compassionate demeanor, disarming smile, and hearty laugh. Franklin did not hesitate to ask students direct questions about themselves and their beliefs—to put them on the spot—all the while encouraging them. 

During his time at Amherst, Franklin offered popular classes on Japanese-American World War II history, the Jewish-American and Asian-American experience, and public history that provided students uniquely rich opportunities: curator-led tours of the Smithsonian, an after-show talk with the cast of George Takei’s Allegiance, and internships with Asian American history and civic organizations. He and his wife, Enid, settled in town and routinely hosted wonderful dinners at their home for his classes that granted them further opportunity to commune and learn. He brought people together. During his time at Amherst, Franklin embedded himself into the intellectual and social life of the college and made connections across campus with students, and a wide range of staff and faculty, for he eschewed the common barriers of status and hierarchy. He was a humble, affable, committed colleague and mentor to all in his department, the college, and Five Colleges. A lunch, pau hana (afterwork drink), really any encounter with Franklin left one uplifted. As he had elsewhere, he concertedly mentored colleagues, as well as students. He directed students’ theses, counseled them on personal and professional challenges, and made sure at least one student did not miss her doctor’s appointment. He inspired students to be stewards of their own histories and to engage the present world, informed with an appreciation of the complicated past and the role activism plays in shaping a better future. In honor of his influence, in 2022 the Asian American Alumni Network established the Franklin S. Odo Prize awarded to the best senior thesis in Asian American Studies, an appropriate extension of the gifts of intellect, community, and service that Franklin Odo brought to Amherst.   

Respectfully submitted:   

Wendy Bergoffen 
Pawan Dhingra 
Samuel Morse 
Robert Hayashi 

ROSE OLVER (1937-2014)

Rose Olver came to Amherst in 1962 as an instructor in Psychology. She retired fifty years later from a college whose transformations owed much to her vision, dedication, and inspired command of the art of the possible. As the first woman tenured at Amherst, she remained an outsider who could work on the inside, keeping the door open for talented outsiders. We honor her as a transformational figure and an icon, but one whose motto would be, “It’s not about me.”

In 1972 she was elected to represent the Faculty to the Board of Trustees in the deliberations about admitting women students. One such meeting was held at the Century Club in New York, then a male-only institution. The other faculty representative, Ellen Ryerson, recalls that she proposed to boycott the meeting in protest but that Rose persuasively argued for the priority of having a seat at the table. They were delivered to the meeting in a freight elevator. Rose never assumed that being on the right side of history would be an easy ride.

Her service to the College was extraordinary in extent and unique in impact, including five terms on the Committee of Six. She also served as Dean of Freshmen; searched for two presidents and multiple other administrators; survived two reaccreditations and a mission statement; co-chaired the faculty committee on the Campaign for Amherst; served on select committees on student life, the first-year experience, co-education, and the size of the College; chaired her two departments in multiple terms for over ten years in total, and served fourteen years as Faculty Marshal.

Those who worked with Rose attest to her brilliant timing in two polar ways. The first was her superhuman patience. After 1962, it would be four years before another woman joined the Faculty. Some two decades later it was still necessary for the President to appoint a blue-ribbon committee to investigate the crisis in morale, hiring, and retention for faculty women. But Rose played the long game and knew the art of picking battles. Equally, she had the split-second timing to spot the inflection point of discussions, the vanishing window for consensus amid impasse, and the way forward that might move the Faculty finally to a vote.

It’s fair to call her career a fifty-year campaign for Amherst, that is, for the better Amherst of what are now our shared aspirations. Rose was uniquely good in helping us to form those aspirations and in founding the institutions that now sustain the vision. Beyond her instrumental and decades-long role in the admission of women students and the hiring and mentoring of women faculty members, she also served on the committee that created the Neuroscience Program—uniquely early for an undergraduate institution—as well as on the committee that created a women’s studies department. Given Amherst’s history, that department was not uniquely early among our peers, but from the first WAGS was ahead of the curve in being a department of gender as well as of women’s studies, and now in encompassing sexuality in its title. She also played a key role in the formulation of the Teaching Certification program and, through a Mellon grant, the creation of the Teaching and Learning Project.

In higher education, Neuroscience and Women’s and Gender Studies are not usually next-door neighbors, yet they are both central to Rose’s legacy. Her final First Year Seminar was called “Women and Science.” Even as she strove to keep the College current in the flourishing areas of gender and sexuality studies, she upheld the venerable tradition of Amherst interdisciplinarity. She was what we can now call the Renaissance Woman.

In the 1960s, she taught a colloquium with philosopher Joseph Epstein on Philosophical Psychology, as well as the general introduction to the social sciences in the freshmen Problems of Inquiry program. In the 1970s she reached out to colleagues from Smith and Mount Holyoke to create a course on Sex and Politics. This she did while taking responsibility in the then tiny Psychology Department for three areas – developmental, social, and cognition and perception – that now require a staff. She taught Psycholinguistics, to boot. Her own course on Sex Role Socialization was for decades a mainstay of the curriculum. In recent years she continued to co-teach with humanists and social scientists in courses such as the Crosscultural Construction of Gender and Gender Labor. In keeping with Amherst traditions, and her love of students’ creativity and individuality, she insisted on engaging classes in discussion rather than lecturing, even on technical matters, and on having honors students create their own research programs rather than folding into her own.

Rose’s research shows a complementary trajectory. She was graduated with high honors in psychology from Swarthmore and earned a Ph.D. from Harvard (calling itself Radcliffe) under the tutelage of Jerome Bruner, with whom she co-authored an important volume, Studies in Cognitive Growth in 1966. Though currently we look to developmental psychology to explain sex role specialization, in the 1950s and 60s the influential research from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton was largely based, like their admission policies, on male subjects. In working on gender differences, Rose advanced a field that she and her generation were in the process of creating. She studied the stages of children’s thinking and conceptual ability as a way to develop teaching methods appropriate to these sequences. From this research and the ground-breaking courses that she developed from it came her conviction both that the natural and social sciences, including economics, must pay due attention to gender and, as mentioned, that gender and sexuality studies must centrally incorporate science. Fittingly, the gendered dimensions of education – now, with the whole College as a laboratory – are central to her final volume, co-edited in 2014 with Buffy Aries and Jane Taubman, Gender Matters: The First Half Century of Women Teaching at Amherst. The core of this volume is the proceedings of a 2011 conference that reunited or memorialized the first generations of women to teach at Amherst and that was held in Rose’s honor. She, characteristically, had her eye insistently on the future. We were reminded that Rose, who was not much given to either nostalgia or bearing grudges, valued institutional memory as the surest guide to the mistakes that we like to repeat. She, better than anyone, appreciated how the road to inclusiveness is paved with good intentions.

From 1991 onward, Rose’s campaign for Amherst proceeded in tandem with the biennial campaigns for Congress of her husband, John. In supporting his leadership, she extended her commitment to education at all levels and to the cause of social and economic equality. By stunning feats of organization, Rose pursued her distinguished career while being a devoted wife to John and mother to her daughter Martha. She was an effective advocate for parenting leave and child-care assistance such as she herself never received.

Rose was a woman of many parts. She was a concert-level pianist, who practiced assiduously and with great pleasure throughout her life. She was born on an 83-acre farm outside of Philadelphia to a country doctor from east Tennessee and to a mother, herself a gifted painter, born of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. With this rural heritage, Rose continued with John to be an ambitious gardener. Together, they explored the globe from Baffin Island to Timbuktu, which she found to be on the boring side. 

A story from her childhood captures some of her qualities of discipline and adaptability. When she entered school at age five, she was left-handed. Perceiving that left-handedness was not approved of, she shifted her dominance to her right hand before the teacher could tell. From that quick, prudent accommodation, she remained ambidextrous throughout life and could do mirror writing with both hands. The young Rose adapted and, at the same time, remained true to herself, as she did throughout life. In honoring her signal impact on the College, we remember that Rose kept her appointment with history one student, one colleague, one friend at a time. Her door was closed to no one. She was a famously generous and wise mentor, wickedly funny, endlessly kind, and uniquely able to instill both realism and hope. Her joy in welcoming new generations to the College was undiminished, and it was only illness that finally drew her out of the classroom. Looking to the future, she bore the weight of history lightly and, at the end of the long game, had the virtue of being right.

JAMES E. OSTENDARP (1923-2005)

James E. Ostendarp, Professor of Physical Education Emeritus, died on December 15, 2005, with his wife and children at his bedside. Jim served Amherst College as head football coach for 33 years. He compiled a remarkable record of 168 wins, 91 losses, and 5 ties while winning the Little Three title thirteen times and fielding two undefeated teams. Jim retired with the fifth-best winning percentage among Division III coaches nationwide.

Jim was raised in Baltimore, Maryland, whereas a teenager, he was denied a place on his high school football team because he was too small; undeterred, Jim joined an adult sandlot team and he earned a football scholarship to the University of Maryland. World War II then interrupted Jim’s college career when he volunteered as a paratrooper and fought in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Jim chose the paratroopers because, as he saw it, the most dangerous assignments produced the best leaders. After the war, Jim transferred to Bucknell University where he acquired the nickname, “Smokey,” reflecting his spirited determination. In his senior year, he set the Bucknell single-season rushing record of 6.9 yards per carry that stands to this day. In 1950 and 1951, Jim played for the New York Giants; in 1952, he moved on to the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

1953 saw important changes in Jim’s life. By far the most significant was his marriage to Shirley Reidinger. It is simply impossible to imagine Jim without Shirley; they were truly a team in the best sense of the word. Also in that year, Jim ended his career as a football player and began his career as a football coach when he was named assistant coach at his alma mater, Bucknell. Subsequently, he coached at Williams and Cornell before being named head football coach at Amherst in 1959. With Jim’s arrival at Amherst, the nickname “Smokey” slowly evolved into “The Darp.”

First and foremost, Jim was a teacher. One of Jim’s former players says it well: “He was a professor who happened to teach football.” After his first season at Amherst, Jim realized that his players did not thoroughly comprehend his football system. Consequently, he compiled a collection of playbooks that Jim described as pamphlets. He sent the pamphlets to all team members in June as a summer reading assignment. His players did not share Jim’s description of these materials as pamphlets, however. Instead, they call them treatises; they totaled 150 pages. This was not quite what the players expected from their new football coach. Furthermore, when his players returned in the fall, Jim surprised them with an exam. Jim’s pamphlets illustrate the importance that he placed on what he called mental discipline. Jim taught his players that success could never be achieved by physical prowess alone.

Naturally, Jim wanted to win football games, but he recognized that performance on the football field was not the ultimate goal. All but a handful of Jim’s players ended their football careers with the last game of their senior year. Jim realized that his most important lessons were not blocking and tackling techniques; these would soon be forgotten. Instead, the real lessons to be learned were the importance of responsibility, leadership, loyalty, determination - mental discipline. These were the lessons that served his players so well not only here at Amherst, but more importantly throughout their lives. These are the qualities needed to achieve success in whatever career one chooses. And indeed, Jim’s players achieved great success in a broad spectrum of fields: medicine, law, education, business, etc.

Jim’s attire at Saturday’s football games was legendary. It was easy to spot him on the sidelines. Regardless of the weather, Jim always wore his dark three-piece suit and Fedora. Jim’s approach to the game was also legendary and sometimes frustrated his peers and no doubt Amherst administrators. In 1985, the Amherst and Williams football teams met for the 100th time. ESPN offered to televise the historic event nationally. While the William’s coach, Robert Odell, enthusiastically favored ESPN’s proposal, Jim vetoed it by asserting that “We’re in education. We aren’t in the entertainment business.” While a nationally broadcast game might enhance Amherst’s stature in the collegiate sports world, it would not promote the central mission of the College, education. Jim’s priorities were clear. Athletics are important here because they teach our students the importance of those character traits that are vital for success not only on the playing fields, but also in the classroom and, most importantly, throughout all of life. Jim was a professor dedicated to teaching the most important lessons a student can learn.

When a player joined Jim’s football team, he became part of Jim’s extended family. Jim made a point of knowing everyone associated with his football program whether a first-string star, a lowly substitute, an assistant coach, or even a water boy. A player’s abilities on the playing field were certainly important to Jim, but more important was what made the player “tick.” Family was crucial. He wanted to know about each player’s parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, etc. He wanted to know what courses his players were taking, what they were doing on weekends, when they were last home, etc. He gave advice subtly; he had the instinctive knack of providing guidance by posing just the right question with the perfect tone and nuance.

Jim’s extended family was not limited to his players; it encompassed the entire Amherst community. Membership in this family brought both privileges and responsibilities. After the fall football season ended, Jim spent endless hours on the telephone. The vast majority of these calls were not made to recruit high school athletes, however. Instead, the calls were made to Amherst alums. The purpose of the calls was to help graduating seniors secure jobs. Jim’s extended family was at work. One sibling in a position to aid another was expected to help. After all, this is what it means to be part of a family.

Jim’s love of art and music was deep. Frequently, on fall Saturday mornings after the pre-game breakfast, he would visit the Mead Art Gallery. He often showed high school recruits the Mead Gallery before taking them to the athletic facilities. He would interrupt football practice in the late afternoon to focus his players’ attention on the beauty of particularly splendid autumn sunset. A reverence for the beauty of art and music was firmly embedded in Jim’s soul. One could not visit Jim and Shirley’s home without being impressed with the art they had collected and the pride that they took in their collection.

Jim touched the lives of so many members of the Amherst community. Many former students assert that with the exception of their parents, Jim was the most influential person in their lives. Jim maintained a large collection of team pictures. He delighted in flipping through the pictures and talking about his former players one by one. He rarely spoke of their exploits on the playing fields, however. Instead, he proudly told of their accomplishments after leaving Amherst. It was their contributions beyond the playing fields that were important to Jim. This is where the lessons that Jim taught had borne fruit.

There was only one group that stood above Jim’s extended family: his wife and children. Through wins and loses, Shirley was always by Jim’s side. They were not two separate individuals, but rather they were a single unit. Their seven children, Teresa, Jim, Anne, Jan, Carl, Beth, and Heidi, provided Jim with enormous pride. Usually, Jim put on a stoic front, but that facade melted with the mere mention of Shirley or their children.

The last years of Jim’s life tested his spirit when Alzheimer’s extracted its cruel toll. Jim’s character came to the fore, however. Even when he could not walk or talk or recognize family and friends, he found a way to reassure and motivate others with a squeeze of the hand or a pat on the arm. Jim was the consummate professor. He always found a way to teach his lessons.

Respectfully submitted,   
Peter Gooding, Allen Hart, David Hixon, Tracy Mehr, William Thurston, and Frank Westhoff

John Pemberton III (1928 - 2016)
John Pemberton III, the Stanley Warfield Crosby Professor of Religion, Emeritus, died at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, on November 30, 2016, felled at the age of 88 by a stroke suffered on Thanksgiving Day.
Jack Pemberton was a noteworthy and paradigmatic figure in the late twentieth-century history of Amherst College—a person deeply rooted in the traditions of the college’s past but even more deeply committed to broadening its life going forward. Many personal recollections of Jack, offered after his death, turn on some variation of this point.  One colleague recalls: “When I first met Jack, he gave the appearance of a traditional New England college professor from his voice down to his suit. And he was, steeped in his tradition. Yet he was also critical of it, and it is that juxtaposition of tradition and critique that he valued.”  Another has observed: “While traditional in manner and temperament, Jack welcomed intellectual risk-taking and innovation and by example and active encouragement of colleagues, especially young colleagues, he helped to make the college the more diverse and challenging intellectual environment it has become for both students and the faculty.”
Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on February 16, 1928, Jack Pemberton grew up along with two younger sisters in a seriously Protestant home. His father, John Pemberton, Jr., served during Jack’s childhood and youth as the pastor of Methodist congregations in Camden and Ocean Grove, New Jersey, and in Poughkeepsie, New York, moving to the Island Baptist Church in Cape May, New Jersey, during Jack’s college years.  His father is said to have been a skilled pastor, comfortably engaging with a wide range of parishioners, while Jack’s mother, Ruth McCandless Cockroft, is remembered as a “classic minister’s wife,” deeply and sympathetically involved in her husband’s work, but also active in town affairs and a devoted reader. Jack’s father appears on the public record in the 1930s expressing concerns about such things as gambling or the playing of professional baseball on Sunday. He also publically supported the New York Shipbuilding Company in the Camden shipyard strikes of 1934 and 1935, something Jack himself occasionally alluded to vaguely and somewhat uncomfortably. If Jack came in many ways to distance himself from this world, he also recalled it with real affection. Homer Rodeheaver, the gospel songwriter and musician who worked alongside the flamboyant Protestant evangelist Billy Sunday, could apparently play his trombone not only with his hands but by bracing it against the floor and moving his head up and down—a feat which Jack had seen him perform. Some of us recall occasionally coaxing Jack to describe this event, as he would inevitably dissolve into tears of hilarity in the process.   

Jack belonged to the generation that came of age just after World War II. He graduated from Princeton University, at the age of 20, in 1948. As an undergraduate, Jack majored in history and was “best known for his beautiful tenor voice,” displayed in a number of choirs and singing groups. He continued his education at Duke University, where he received a bachelor of divinity degree in 1952 and a Ph.D. in 1958. His dissertation, on “Karl Heim’s Conception of the Apologetic Task of Christian Theology,” examined the work of a twentieth-century German theologian. Jack’s initial academic specialization was thus the history of Christian thought and his early scholarship—though limited—was along such lines.   

Jack’s teaching career began while he was still working on his dissertation. From 1954 to 1958, he taught at Randolph Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. In the fall of 1958, he arrived at Amherst and would remain here forty years until his retirement in 1998.   

At Amherst, Jack joined J. Alfred Martin, Jr., a philosopher of religion, in the religion wing of the two-winged Department of Philosophy and Religion. His initial teaching assignment within the department consisted of courses on Old Testament, New Testament, religion in America, and Christianity in modern Western culture. Importantly, he also regularly taught in Humanities 1 and 2, large courses required of all first-year students in the college’s post-war, highly-structured “new curriculum.”  These courses were designed around “books chosen to illustrate certain important stages in the development of Western culture”—mostly Greek literature and Bible in the first semester, a range of medieval, Renaissance, and modern works in the second.   

A decade later, with Al Martin gone to Union Theological Seminary and two new colleagues, Bruce Morgan and Lewis Mudge, added to the religion faculty, Jack was able to hand off his Bible and American responsibilities to them and teach instead courses on the Western religious tradition (covering “Judaism and Christianity from the Talmud and Church Fathers to the present”), philosophy of religion, and contemporary religious thought. But Jack in the late 1960s was very far from settling comfortably into the area of his graduate specialization in Western Christian thought. Change was afoot at Amherst—and Jack was an active part of it.   

The post-war curriculum had been replaced by a new program centered on three required “Problems of Inquiry” courses for first-year students. The emphasis here was more methodological and interdisciplinary, with sources now drawn from “literature, music, fine arts, [as well as] works of discursive prose.” An intellectual restlessness that would take his own work in surprising new directions made him an energetic participant in this new program. Particularly important for the long-term development of Jack’s work was a Problems of Inquiry course that included material on modern art and Africa. In getting ready for the course, he visited a number of museums in Philadelphia and New York, and was deeply affected by what he saw. It gave rise to an engagement with Africa that never left him.   

These curricular fresh mixings were part of a larger process of change at Amherst. In the late 1960s and early 70s, the college entered into a period of sustained self-examination and change. New majors and departments were created, established departments were reconfigured, the faculty and student body grew and, more significantly, grew more diverse in every respect. Jack was a strong and consistent supporter of these changes: the creation of the anthropology and sociology department, the black studies department, the women’s and gender studies department, LJST, and Asian languages and civilizations all were enthusiastically welcomed by Jack and he went out of his way to make sure that many of the newcomers to these new departments felt welcomed—sympathetically helping them to negotiate the unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable peculiarities of Amherst’s older culture.   

Meanwhile, the study of religion as an academic field at Amherst was also changing and Jack was very much at the center of that as well. Through the 1960s, Jack and his colleagues in religion were all products of Protestant mainline education and (for the most part) specialists in one or another aspect of Christianity, especially Protestantism. Under Jack’s leadership, the department of Religion—separate now from Philosophy—took a new and far more diverse form. Jack presided over the hiring of Robert Thurman, a scholar of Buddhism and Amherst’s first full-time appointment in Asian religions. Jack won for Amherst a Five-College position in Judaic studies and oversaw the hiring of Reuven R. Kimelman, an orthodox Jewish scholar, to fill the post. When this term appointment ended and biblical scholar Lewis Mudge left Amherst, Jack led the search leading to the dual appointment of Robert Doran and Susan Niditch, Amherst’s first tenure-track appointment in Judaism.   

Robert Doran recalls that Jack “liked that I was brought up in a traditional Roman Catholic way and yet engaged in historical and literary criticism of the Christian Scriptures. He appreciated the diversity of all of us in the department and beyond, allowing all of us to flourish. Yet he challenged us to be comparative and interdisciplinary, respecting and valuing all religious traditions.” Susan Niditch has observed: “I loved the way that Jack’s buttoned-down, tie-wearing impeccability combined with a lively off-beat sense of humor, an exquisite capacity for self-deprecation, and a genuine appreciation for people who seemed so different from him in terms of demeanor, culture, gender, and ethnicity. He gathered around himself a diverse and devoted array of colleagues and friends and, in particular, supported young scholars in every way, intellectually and politically. He was unobtrusive and undemanding, leaving all of them free to develop and become themselves. His liveliness, creative imagination, and analytical depth was evidenced in everything he wrote and in every class he taught. He taught me patience in the classroom and was especially gifted at allowing students to reach knowledge on their own, to sharpen their own ways of thinking and engaging in analytical processes. At every turn, he challenged them productively, making students aware of the normative constraints and assumptions with which they often arrived at religion courses in a liberal arts college, opening their eyes to diverse forms of religious culture and identity and to a deeper appreciation of their own ways of looking at the world.”   

Jack’s embrace of diversity and openness to new avenues of thinking was nowhere more evident than in the extraordinary shift in his own intellectual focus from Christian thought to the study of religion more generally and African religions and art, with a special focus on the Yoruba people of Nigeria, in particular. It is the most striking feature of his academic career. Stimulated by his experience in the Problems of Inquiry course and inspired in part by the advent of anthropology at Amherst College, Jack set out in the early 1970s to develop an entirely new line of research. This was new territory for him, and one has to admire the courage it took to depart from an established career and confront such a totally new challenge.   

In 1970-71, while supported by a fellowship from the Society for Values in Higher Education and the Danforth Foundation, he became a Visiting Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford University.  There he engaged in conversations with such luminaries of African anthropology as Godfrey Lienhardt and John Beattie. But Jack’s African research was never of the mere armchair sort and during that same year, he made his first trips to West Africa.  That was the beginning of his commitment to on-site field research, and over the course of his life, he traveled to the region at least fourteen times. During his first visits in 1970-71, he was an Associate Fellow of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and in 1981-82 and again in 1986 he was Visiting Research Associate at the University of Ife. Over the years, he developed close relationships with many Nigerian colleagues. Rowland Abiodun recalls meeting Jack at Ife in the early 1980s. “Besides his great personal charm and palpable intellectual curiosity in learning about the art and culture of the Yoruba people,” Rowland recalls, “ he was loveable, gentlemanly and kindly in the very best sense of those adjectives. We instantly became kindred spirits and that relationship did not change until [his death].”
Jack achieved great distinction as an Africanist and student of African religion and art.  He was author, co-author, or editor of fourteen books and catalogs, many done in collaboration with others, especially Rowland Abiodun.  He also authored over twenty articles and reviews, curated numerous exhibitions, and was a frequently-invited lecturer on African religion and arts.  His work was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, the Ford Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation, among others. Ultimately, Jack became one of the leaders of the field, as attested by the frequency with which his expertise and judgment were sought by both academic and non-academic members of the African arts community. In the year 2006, he was elected to the Advisory Board of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. The bulk of his field photographs (numbering tens of thousands, all of which were painstakingly and carefully annotated) also found a permanent home there. He continued to be actively engaged with the field to the end of his life.   

Jack’s work not only took him to Africa, it helped bring Africa to Amherst. He was an active participant in the Five College African Studies program. Many African colleagues—and other students of African religion and art—came to Amherst to speak and sometimes for longer stays. He was instrumental in bringing the prominent Nigerian scholar Wande Abimbola, soon to become vice-chancellor of the University of Ife, to serve as a visiting professor at the college in 1980-1981. The roster of Copeland Fellows he sponsored includes Rosalind Hackett, Jacob Olupona, and Funso Afolayan—all younger scholars for whom Jack was an important mentor. Rowland Abiodun has also said that “without Jack, I wouldn’t be at Amherst today.” Jack’s African interests of course also had a deep impact on his teaching. He began to experiment with Africa-related courses in 1971, offering a course on religious change among the Yoruba, and such courses often taught in interdisciplinary formats in collaboration with other colleagues and over the years widening in the scope of African cultures treated remained central to his teaching mission until his retirement. One of his last courses at Amherst was a new course on Asian and African Systems of Divination, co-taught with another member of the religion department.   

Yet Jack continued to bridge the old and the new in all that he did. Older interests that lost their place in his scholarship continued to live on in his teaching. He regularly taught a course on modern Christian thought—now more about the various versions of liberation theology than the likes of Karl Heim. He annually offered The Christian Religious Tradition. Centered on Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Luther, and Pascal, it resonated with the humanities courses he had taught at Amherst in his early years. Religion 11 under his supervision was very much in the Problems of Inquiry tradition—methodological, comparative, and interdisciplinary—as was his later regularly offered seminar, titled Theories of Religion.   

With his beloved wife Jane, whom he married in 1969 and who was his deeply sympathetic partner in all things, he presided over a family that eventually came to include six children and twelve grandchildren. The Pembertons were the most gracious of hosts. Their home on Dana Street—and later at High Ridge in Pelham—was the welcoming site for many memorable social occasions. With a characteristic blend of formality and ease, they hosted events that drew together a diverse mix of people—family, college colleagues, people from the town, scholars from Africa and elsewhere.   

Jack was also for decades a faithful and active participant in the life of Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, a wise counselor to its rectors and a caring friend to many of his fellow parishioners. In that church, above the pulpit, there is a very striking crucifix. Commissioned and donated by Jack—and Jane, it was carved by Lamidi Fakeye, a Nigerian carver whom Jack had come to know and on occasion had brought to Amherst—a man who is himself a Muslim. It is a fitting expression of the themes of continuity and change, rootedness and expansion, that so notably marked Jack Pemberton’s life.   

President Martin, I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered in the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to Professor Pemberton’s family.
Respectfully submitted by   

Rowland Abiodun   
Lawrence A. Babb   
Robert Doran   
Jan Dizard   
Susan Niditch   
David W. Wills

JOHN PETROPULOS (1929 - 1999)

In the early decades of this century, thousands of ethnic Greeks fled religious violence and political instability in the Balkans and Turkey and came to America. Many settled in the old industrial cities of New England, drawn by the easy availability of factory work. There they developed close-knit communities, often centered around the Greek Orthodox church and the dream of a better life for their children. It was into one such community that John Anthony Petropulos was born on December 19, 1929. His father had arrived in this country in his late teens and had worked in the factories of North Adams, Massachusetts before settling in Lewiston, Maine where he became a policeman. John's mother, also a first-generation Greek immigrant, worked in the Bates textile mills.

John attended public schools in Lewiston before going on to Yale where he received his BA magna cum laude in 1951 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. From there he moved to Harvard, where he embarked on the study of Balkan and Byzantine history under the direction of Robert L. Wolff. As a young man, John was drawn to .the ascetic life of the scholar and theologian and doubted he would ever marry. In fact, his life took a very different turn for it was in Cambridge that John met his future wife, Electra Yankopoulos. In later years he loved to tell the story of their first meeting. Attending a lecture delivered by Father Florovsky, the famous Orthodox theologian and historian, he spotted Electra across the room, speaking with the great man himself. John turned to the friend next to him and said "I'm going to marry that woman!" And so he did.

In September 1958, married only a month, and still, in the midst of writing his dissertation, John arrived at Amherst College as an instructor of Balkan and Middle Eastern history, beginning what was to be forty-one years at the college. In the next year Electra's and John's first child, Ansia, was born, to be followed by Stephanie, in 1964, and Anthony, in 1969.

The college to which John came in 1958 was not the place we know today. The curriculum was, at least in the freshman and sophomore years, almost entirely fixed. Humanities 1 and 2 and History 1 and 2 which all students were required to take-summed up the conventional wisdom of the day as to what an educated member of the elite should know. The faculty still socialized in the all-male faculty club. Students had to attend chapel three to five mornings a week, a broadly non-denominational event intended to reflect, as well as to further, a sense of common purpose, but which. retained what some considered to be a discernible Protestant "feel." Some recall an air of old New England privilege that those not bred to that culture could find both puzzling and difficult to penetrate.

This world and many of the ideals that sustained it died a slow and, at times, painful death during the ensuing decades. Growing religious, social, and racial heterogeneity at the college, both on the faculty and in the student body, shifting conceptions of national purpose, as represented above all by the Civil Rights Movement and the opposition to the war in Vietnam, and changing notions about what constituted knowledge, all combined to make the older ways of doing things at the college seem less and less tenable. John understood the pull of tradition, but he was himself an outsider to much that had animated the "Old Amherst" and he came to believe that it no longer spoke to the needs and aspiration of a new generation of students and faculty.

John was, in fact, to be a quiet but key player in creating a different kind of college, one in which faculty club, chapel and common curriculum no longer easily fit. At the core of the New Amherst was to be quality of scholarship and quality of teaching, defined according to national and international measures of excellence rather than more localized, "community" standards. This was to be accompanied by more open and transparent modes of governance, and a far more clearly articulated commitment to equality of opportunity. John would work tirelessly in the years to realize this perhaps never fully achievable ideal

In the meantime, he was himself already operating within a larger scholarly ambit., John's book Politics and Statecraft in the Kingdom of Greece, 1833- 1843, appeared in 1968 from Princeton University Press, and immediately won him a position of leadership in the emerging field of modern Greek studies. Over 600 pages long, and, based on close readings of manuscript and printed sources, Politics and State Craft represented one of the earliest attempts to apply up-to-date historical methods to the history of 19`''-century Greece. John's account relied on sensitive portrayals of the main protagonists, an acute sense of the role of social and economic factors, and a complex view of kinship and patronage ties. As Alexander Kitroeff, himself a specialist on the period has written of the book, "The value in Petropulos' analysis.. .lies in the richness of his explanation of how events were driven by the political interests of the major political actors. Those interests ... were rooted in a broad range of competing local, regional, cultural and philosophical outlooks. In methodically recounting how those different outlooks clashed and synthesized, Petropulos presented a wonderfully textured and nuanced picture of early nineteenth-century Greek society. This offered a refreshingly lively sense that earlier studies, which were full of heroes and villains, did not come close to recreating." John's book represented the coming of age of modern Greek history. Beautifully written and closely argued, and paying scrupulous attention to the sources, it has been a model for dozens of subsequent studies of 19th- and 20th -century Greece and is generally credited with being one of the books that created the field.

John was an institution-builder as well as an intellectual. In 1969, one year after Politics and Statecraft appeared, he helped found the Modern Greek Studies Association, devoted to furthering the interdisciplinary study of Modern Greece and the Greek diaspora, and he served as its second president as well as, at one time or another, vice president, acting president, member of the executive committee and convener of numerous editorial boards, committees and symposia. John was also active in the American Historical Association, organizing panels on the problems of refugees, comparative resistance movements and 20th century Fascism, and he was a co-author of two other books on foreign interference in Greek politics and 19th-century Greek politics respectively, as well as an edited collection on the First Greek War of Independence. He also wrote articles on such topics as ethnic cleansing and modern Greek political memoirs, and he delivered numerous highly polished lectures and talks that did not make it into print in his lifetime. Indeed, his personal papers are full of long and short manuscripts pertaining to a projected book on comparative resistance movements during World War II, a general survey of Greek history from 1453 to present, Turkish settlements in the Peloponnese during the eighteenth century, Ottoman tax registers, Greek nationalist movements, and numerous other topics. Many of these are in close to finished shape and efforts are already underway to publish some of it posthumously. Politics and Statecraft appeared in a Greek translation in 1979 and remains in print to this day.

Though best known for his work on Greek history, very early on in his career John began broadening his intellectual horizons. Already by 1961, he had embarked on the study of the Turkish language, and, while he never stopped working on Greece, the rest of his career also saw a close engagement with the history and politics of the Middle East. Himself a product - at long remove - of the ethnic conflicts that have so tragically marked the history and peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, John sought in his own way to mark out the path of reconciliation. As relations worsened between Jews and Moslems in the mid to late 1960s, John began speaking out more publicly in favor of peace, rapprochement, and greater Palestinian self-determination. Often in these years, he found himself pitted against his colleague, and, as time passed, his friend, Gordie Levin. Initially far apart politically, as the years passed, partly in response to changing events, and partly due to their deepening mutual regard, their differences narrowed considerably. John and Gordie collaborated in March 1994 in organizing a post-Oslo conference with Israeli and Palestinian journalists, scholars and political figures here at the college. Though a man of deep convictions, John possessed the rare ability to differentiate differences of opinion from considerations of character, to be a true friend to people with whom he could not agree. John was worldly-wise, aware of how the world worked, and he seemed invariably to grasp the true motives of historical actors. Yet this often rueful sense of things was fused, perhaps paradoxically, with incredibly scrupulous and decent sensibilities. He possessed the rare capacity to appreciate and even love his adversaries.

In the 1960s and 1970s, opposition to the War in Vietnam caused unprecedented upheavals at the college and in the Valley. Like a number of faculty members, John was arrested for civil disobedience at the Westover Air force base. At the same time, in the midst of the controversy about whether or not to close the college to protest the war, he argued strongly in favor of it remaining open and committed to its mission to educate.

Teaching and, along with that, mentorship, were a central part of John's mission in life. Scores of former students responded to the news of his death with testimonials about his seriousness of purpose, his integrity, his generosity of spirit, his passion for teaching, and his enduring influence upon their lives. One, who could speak for many, wrote "through him I got a sense of what it meant to be a scholar: the resistance against easy answers, the delight in the openness of questions, the seriousness of the purpose of it all. He cared for each of us students - that was obvious -- but he cared even more about history and made us want to do so too." Another wrote "[It was John] alone who propelled me to graduate school and to a life of teaching and writing. In that respect his work and spirit remain alive in classrooms across the country."

John served as Dean of Freshman from 1982 to 1985. One of his first projects, in partnership with his wife, Electra, was to embark on a heroic -- some might say quixotic-program of inviting every single freshman and freshwoman to their home for dinner, in groups of twenty at a time, a program that took up virtually every week of the school year. This was not some utopian gesture but, at least in part, an effort to deal constructively with the bitter conflict then raging about the role of fraternities in student life. John himself was strongly opposed to fraternities because he believed they were inconsistent with Amherst's stated commitment to providing an atmosphere in which all students -not just some-- could learn. In 1984 the fraternities were indeed abolished, and John took an active role in effecting the transition and in trying to create alternative structures that could bear some of the load.

John was an early champion of the women's movement, aware of the subtle as well as blatant ways in which the world needed to change if women were to have the same opportunities as men. He was a supporter, early on, of co-education at Amherst, writing in 1972 in a letter to then-president Bill Ward: "Coeducation is not merely part of the larger imperative of justice for the female sex. It is, I am convinced, a vital ingredient in the more comprehensive and indispensable re-education of both males and females, young and old, concerning the proper identity of each." He enthusiastically welcomed women to Amherst as students and faculty, and he was delighted when women faculty members began to be elected to the Committee of Six and to make themselves heard at faculty meetings.

The faculty relied upon John for clear, thoughtful advice when the difficult decisions had to be made, and he could rarely find it in him to say no when demands were made upon his time. John was three times elected to the Committee of Six, serving from 1985 to 1987, from 1989 to 1991, and from 1994 to 1995. During these years a series of policies and programs were hammered out that helped it shed some of the lingering effects of its years as a male-only college and pushing it to develop a more expansive, more multicultural and in many ways more modern conception of the liberal arts and sciences. It is hard to find a new program of the last twenty years or so in which John did not have a hand. These included the Five-College Middle Eastern Studies Program, in which John was centrally involved, the Five-College African Studies certificate, the Five College Latin American and Caribbean Studies Certificate, and the Women's and Gender Studies department. His role on the Committee of Six, and at the college more generally was characterized by extraordinary decency of character, and a rare fusion of lucidity and humaneness. He had an egalitarian commitment to fairness that went far beyond simple words. The emphasis on procedure with which we are sometimes impatient today was at the heart of John's sense of things. He was most concerned to ensure that there was not a "hidden" or "insider" set of rules or standards to which others were not privy. He cared a lot more about getting things done than about getting recognized. His influence was quiet, but it was profound, touching almost every aspect of the life of the college.

Luckily for him, John did have a life outside the college. He adored Electra, and both of them were deeply committed to the complicated project of raising children to adulthood. John loved music and art, and the beauty of nature. He worked long hours in his garden, even as physical exertion became more difficult for him. He was appreciative of the traditions of his Greek heritage and wanted to share them with others. His tall, erect figure stood out in the line of the Greek men when he danced, he could move his long legs with grace and precision. (Then he would fold that body up like a pretzel to fit into the little, rattling car he was perversely proud to drive.) No one made better grilled lamb, or better baklava -- the latter an example of John's defiance of traditional boundaries, not relegating the pastry-making to women. He rarely spoke of himself; characteristic of his lack of egotism were conversations with colleagues in which he tended to learn more about their lives than they did about his. He loved the Orthodox Church, its rituals, its songs. He sang in the choir at Holy Trinity with a melodious bass voice. He read extensively in the writings of the Church Fathers, and he worked together with Electra, Don and Allison Lemons and George Shaheen to organize interdenominational Orthodox services at the college.

Toward the end of his last term on the Committee of Six, John began manifesting signs of the emphysema with which he had been diagnosed sometime before. In 1997 he began having to carry an oxygen tank and he spent a good deal of time doing rehabilitation. He faced what turned out to be his final illness with cheerfulness and courage. He began phased retirement and cut down his teaching to one course per term. John looked forward to retirement as an opportunity to devote himself to some of the many interests that he had had to leave on the back burner while pursuing a full schedule of teaching, committee work, departmental responsibilities, and the endless demands that go along with being one of the best-known scholars in one's field. All this makes it particularly poignant that he died so suddenly and at such a comparatively young age. He had ambitions to study Italian and to find out more about classical music. He ordered an immense variety of books and started learning how to negotiate the Internet. He began rearranging his notes and papers in preparation for completing his long-awaited study on Greece in the twentieth century. He recommitted himself to one of his other great loves, gardening; he had been to the local garden supply stores on the weekend he died. and had dozens of new plants ready to put in the ground. He took a 'renewed interest in the Orthodox religion and he planned to combine his spiritual and scholarly interests by writing on General Makrygiannes' visions and communications with the divine (Makrygiannes was one of the key figures of the Greek struggle for independence). However, in John's final years he also took an interest in Jewish prayer, particularly the Kaddish, and in Islamic mystical traditions. Throughout this he continued, when his health permitted, his usual round of teaching, writing recommendations, keeping up his vast correspondence, offering quiet solace to friends in need. On the night he died he had gone to his office to work, as he often did. He was just coming out of his office, student papers in hand when death took him.

John touched many people in his lifetime, and testimonials have come from all over the world testifying to acts of generosity in times of great personal trouble or despair. More than one contained the words "I owe him a debt that can never be repaid." The modern Greek Studies association dedicated its 1999 meetings to his memory. Eulogies by his peers called him one of the two or three most important historians of Modern Greece. The University of Athens history and archeology team held a scholarly conference this past February to honor John and the way his work "has opened new roads and exercised a tremendous influence on successive generations of historians."

It has been said that a sudden death is a blessing to the deceased and a burden to the bereaved. And so it has been for his family and his friends and colleagues. In his last published work, a substantial historical preface to a well-known Greek opposition figure's political memoirs that appeared in October of 1997, John quoted with relish a phrase from Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, "the struggle of memory against forgetting is the struggle of human beings against power." Another of his favorite phrases, which he must have enjoyed both for the sentiment it conveyed and for its playful use of a central term of Greek Orthodox theology, was "every day is an epiphany." Our friend, our colleague, John Petropulos, lived a full life with dignity, a commitment to peace and social justice, a steady religious faith, and love for his family, his friends, his students, and this college.

This memorial minute is submitted by Peter Czap, Margaret Hunt, Gordon Levin, George Shaheen, and Rebecca Sinos.


Donald S. Pitkin

Donald S. Pitkin died after a long battle with Parkinson's disease on May 11, 2012.  Don was born January 6, 1922.  He attended Greenough School in Dedham and matriculated to Harvard, class of 1944.  Don interrupted his collegiate studies to join the armed forces, enlisting in the fabled 10th Mountain Division and serving in the Division's engagement with Japanese forces in the Aleutian Islands.  As a Second Lieutenant, he was trained as a forward artillery observer and was preparing for the invasion of Japan when the war abruptly ended.   He returned to Harvard at war's end and received his BA in 1947 and his Ph.D. in 1954.  That year he became an assistant professor of Anthropology at Northeastern University, teaching there until joining the faculty at Amherst College in 1964 as the first professor of Anthropology at Amherst and the founder of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology.  Don retired from Amherst at age 70 in 1992.

Don’s initial interest in anthropology was ignited by his reading of Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture as a history major at Harvard. In graduate school, his primary influence was Clyde Kluckhohn, who advocated non-Western fieldwork, and Don fully expected to do his field research in some non-literate society.  But, as chance would have it, an army buddy persuaded Don to travel with him to Italy the summer after Don's first year of graduate school.  The trip was life- and career-changing.  In those days, the idea of anthropologists studying European societies was still novel, and to embark on such work was a risky career choice.  But Don was determined to do his research in an Italian village, and he became one of the pioneers in the study of peasants there.  Indeed, when the American Anthropological Association assembled a panel in honor of these pioneers at the 2000 meetings, Don was among the honorees.

Don’s dissertation focused on a village in the Pontine Marshes in which he lived during 1951-52.  There, he studied family relations and land tenure, and the resulting thesis generated a number of important publications, most notably a book and film, both entitled The House that Giacomo Built: History of an Italian Family, 1898-1978 .

This masterwork follows the fortunes of a married couple and their descendants who, in the 1930s, fled the poverty of their native Calabria to settle in the village Don came to know so well.  Wonderfully told and rich in personal and cultural detail, The House that Giacomo Built is a tale of deep impoverishment, struggle, and gradual upward mobility across the three generations.  Rapid social change had not corroded this family; instead, its members wove extended family ties into the fabric of a rapidly modernizing society.  With access to education not available to the older generation, family members were able to achieve a prosperity that enabled everyone to become stronger and the family more cohesive.  Modernity, as Don put it, turns out not to be “monolithic.”

Don also concluded that we can learn something worth knowing about love from this family’s story.  In contrast to the American idealization of love as individuating and private, Don’s family exemplifies an alternative form of love “as the expression of lives lived collectively in struggle.”  Don’s book won two prizes in 1988, both from Italian sources.

Anthropologists have sometimes been criticized for turning their backs on the communities they study once they have completed their research.  This was not Don.  He kept in contact with village members until the end of his life.  In 1999 he was invited to the village for a special “Don Pitkin Day:” he brought his whole American family with him because he wanted the villagers to come to know his kin, as he had come to know theirs. 

In his post-retirement years, Don turned from Italy to Germany and to an oral-historical study of a family from the erstwhile German Democratic Republic.  In this project, Don faced a linguistic hurdle, one which he dealt with by learning German in Amherst classrooms.  We are told that he was a diligent student and that he participated in the flow of conversation in the classroom, despite the age gap between him and his fellow students.

Don’s study reveals an extraordinary slice of German life that will deepen any reader’s understanding of Germany’s twentieth-century history. He tells us, for instance, that the youngest of his informants, born in the late 1970s, is somewhat ambivalent about the new Germany: although she does not want to turn back the clock, she feels a sense of community has been lost, one she believes that was a redeeming feature of the GDR. 

As rich and illuminating as Don's writings are, it is in the classroom that he felt most fulfilled.  He loved teaching and nurturing students.  As he reflected on his teaching career, he remembered the excitement of teaching at Northeastern: most of his students were first in their family to go to college. The contrast between the students at Northeastern and those at Amherst was a constant reminder for Don of the inequalities that gnaw at our social fabric.

Don’s teaching was gentle and humane.  It was deeply informed by political values, but the strength of Don’s convictions was always well balanced by his respect for any point of view that was intellectually serious, even if it went against his perspective.  Although his outlook was relativistic in keeping with the spirit of the kind of anthropology with which he most identified, this never meant that he was without standards. He had genuine political commitments as well as serious pedagogic values.  He fought for the former and maintained the latter.  Indeed, he was no easy grader.  He demanded much from his students but gave them much in return.  They remember him with great respect and affection.

Don was an ideal choice to launch the new Department of Anthropology at Amherst, not least because of his excellence as a teacher and his belief in undergraduate education as an intellectual vocation.  Furthermore, his unusually broad anthropological background gave him the knowledge necessary to build a program from the ground up.  His was a truly integrative vision of the discipline and one that he could handle better than many.

With Don’s arrival, anthropology first appeared among Amherst’s course listings in the academic year 1964-65.  Don, then an associate professor, was the sole faculty member teaching the subject.  Ultimately he built what became the six-person Department of Anthropology and Sociology.  With the addition of new colleagues, Don created a series of new and innovative courses over the ensuing years. 

Don was committed to two things in his professional life: promoting the unique and crucial role that anthropology plays in helping us understand ourselves and our place in the world, and making sure that members of his Department would play an important position in the broader curriculum of the College.  He set an example for his younger colleagues.  Many of his departmental courses were highly interdisciplinary both in the materials read and in approach.  Moreover, Don was a staunch supporter of the College’s interdepartmental programs, in which he taught on a regular basis.  He taught in the Problems of Inquiry program, not only in the social science courses but also in the humanities courses. After the advent of the Introduction to Liberal Studies program, he alternated for many years, one year teaching Race and Sex and the next, Romanticism and Enlightenment, both co-taught with an extraordinary range of colleagues.

Don was an enthusiastic supporter of such interdisciplinary endeavors, and he unstintingly supported the participation in these courses by the new--and untenured--at Amherst. Such teaching, he was sure, made better anthropologists in what was, after all, a holistic social science. He was also sure that such teaching was important to convince sometimes Eurocentric colleagues that socio-cultural diversity not only delights, but importantly challenges taken-for-granted assumptions about how the world works.    

Don was a gifted teacher and, equally, a gifted mentor.  He encouraged his junior colleagues in their efforts to juggle teaching and scholarship, keeping them mindful of what he took to be their first obligation--the education of our undergraduates. He laid a foundation for what quickly became not just a "solid department" with robust enrollments, but a department whose members participated energetically in virtually every curricular innovation in the College's curriculum from 1970 to the present.  And in the bargain, he instructed us all in what it means to teach the liberal arts broadly and cross-culturally. 

Don married while in college: his wife Emily attended Vassar. Don delighted in telling the story of an early transgression the two perpetrated. In those days undergraduate women were fiercely guarded and were required to return to their dorms early every evening. At one point Don and his wife decided to flout the rule, and spend the weekend in New York.  Late Sunday evening, as Don was heading back to Cambridge, Emily returned to her dorm only to find that Vassar had realized her absence and notified the police. Unbeknownst to them both, they had spent the weekend as objects of a “man” hunt.

Don’s final years were beset by multiple and debilitating illnesses. But he never lost his love of life, and he never ceased living it to its fullest. Don was a deeply committed citizen of the town and of the world. He was an active member of the Council on Aging and Town Meeting. He was one of the earliest and most generous contributors to the Amherst Cinema Center. His home, by design, lay a mere few blocks from the center of town, and even in his final years Don could be seen uptown, participating in the life of the street.

Don resolved to end his days, not in a retirement community, but at his home surrounded by young people. He occupied the lower floor while a live-in caregiver and several others roomed upstairs. One such resident was an artist: Don’s face can be seen in a painting now on display in a major museum.  People were always coming and going, some to stay for days, others for months. Don hosted a weekly “salon” at which friends would gather for tea and sweets and conversation. No one ever talked about the Good Old Days or aches and pains: everyone talked about politics, the arts and town affairs.

Late in his life, beset by illness and moving ever more slowly, Don and a friend spent a weekend in New York.  At one point they found themselves poised on the corner of a broad and busy avenue: the “walk” light was about to turn red. “If we hurry we can make it,” Don said, and he darted into the avenue, leaving his younger friend hurrying behind in a vain attempt to catch up.

L. Alan Babb   
Jan E. Dizard   
Deborah B. Gewertz   
George S. Greenstein

President Martin, I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the Faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered in the permanent record of the Faculty, and that a copy be sent to Professor Pitkin's family.

CALVIN H. PLIMPTON (1918 - 2007)

Calvin Hastings Plimpton was born in Boston in 1918 and died in January of this year at the age of 88. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Amherst College in the class of 1939, after which he went on to the Harvard Medical School and then from there to serve in the European Theater with the 5th Auxiliary Surgical Group during World War II. After the war, in 1947, he earned a master's degree in biochemistry at Harvard, and, in 1951, the degree of Doctor of Medical Science at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he became an assistant dean. Between 1957 and 1959 he was Professor of Medicine, chairman of the department, and associate dean of the medical faculty at American University in Beirut.

In 1960, at the age of 42, he was chosen to be the thirteenth president of Amherst College. He was an unusual choice -- all but unprecedented. A member of a faculty, yes, but of a sort not easily recognized by the faculty of a liberal arts college. After he was introduced to it late in the spring before he took office, the senior professor in the English department said at a meeting with his colleagues that afternoon: "He's seen men die. It'll be interesting."

And indeed it was.

At Amherst, Cal (he was known by no other name) remained a medicine man. He did not just refer faculty members to specialists in Boston or New York; he gave them his own professional opinion. In one notable case, he told the man whose back hurt so much he would stand for the two hours of a faculty meeting what he thought was wrong -- and he was right. A tumor, fortunately benign. An operation. Life went on. He even made house calls. His own amusing account went like this: "When they get down to the chiro and he's out and the vet's away and there's no raising the Christian Science practitioner, there's still old Plimpton, might as well call on him." He was also a shrewd general diagnostician, famous for his interviews and assessments of individuals' character. Of course, those of us whom he hired and/or whom he tenured are not likely to question his insight, but there were other cases. Listening to a Committee of Six discussion of a man coming up for tenure, Cal became increasingly skeptical and then, it seemed, downright bored, as he began to shuffle through some papers. At the time, the man was supposedly spending a year working under professor x at prestigious institution y. Suddenly Cal picked up the phone, tracked down professor x and asked him how the candidate was doing. Never heard of him, said professor x. Case closed.

Cal lived in many worlds. He had been a student of Zen at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons; he passed on what he had learned to the brothers of an Amherst fraternity. He was something of a Chaucerian and regularly attended meetings of a medieval society in New York. He played - by some accounts struggled with - the piano. He was the proud curator of an extraordinary collection of portraits of famous English authors. He spoke four languages and took up a fifth, Arabic, when he went to Lebanon. But for all that, for all the worldliness, he was deeply committed to the students and faculty of Amherst College.

In his years as president, the student body increased from fewer than 1,000 to 1,200, the faculty from about 110 to about 140. A fund drive was, by the standards of the day, phenomenally successful. The music and science buildings were built, as were five dormitories and the Robert Frost Library, its cornerstone laid by John F. Kennedy a month before his assassination. ("The birth of a memory," he said on the occasion of Kennedy's visit.) He was instrumental in enriching four-college cooperation by the addition of the fifth - Hampshire College.

And there were the lesser things that are by one reading much more: the move of administrative offices from the Chapel to Converse and the appointment of a Dean of the Faculty (When he came there were only two deans, the dean of admission and the dean, the dean of everything.); the designing, which he oversaw, of the Red - or Cole Assembly - Room to make democratic participation in faculty meetings more likely than was possible in the Babbott Room in the Octagon; the abolition of Saturday classes, and the reduction of faculty members' teaching load from 3/2 to 2/2; and - down to basics - a rise in faculty salaries that set precedent. "He furthered the idea that faculty deserved to live a bit more easily in material circumstances," a former colleague has said. "The result was that many of us who were not rich to begin with experienced for the first time some surplus." When one man came to him for permission to teach a course at Smith, Cal asked him why he wanted to do that. It'd be interesting to teach at another kind of institution, the man said - and I need the money. How much are they going to pay you? Cal asked. Hearing the amount, Cal again picked up the phone (he was no stickler about procedure), called the treasurer, and had the man's salary increased by that amount. He said it was his teaching at Amherst that he valued. As we say in the vernacular, what is there not to like?

His expansiveness took other forms as well. The advent of the first woman on the faculty sent shock waves through even her own department. They worried: What if she were to get pregnant? "He was genial and gracious, and had a hearty laugh that gave support and warmth in otherwise intimidating situations," she recalls. "He called me in and told me I could get pregnant and stay pregnant all I wanted." And there was his, and his wife Ruthie's, hospitality, theirs an informal and open house - spontaneous invitations, food and drink aplenty, the latter so plentiful at Cal's first reception (in Ruthie's farewell words to the faculty) that "there were people hanging from the Bulfinch woodwork... .people.. .wrapped like ivy around the Corinthian columns." "Expediency was essential," Cal had warned her before the party. The faculty does not like to be kept waiting. Drinks were thrust upon guests as they arrived, and re-filled before the idea of a re­fill had even crossed their minds. When the last man "made his precarious exit," Ruthie reported, "Cal turned to me with concern and said, "Ruthie, we're going to have to leave Amherst." "Cal, let's take our time," she replied. Ruthie, his wise and witty counselor.

That time would stretch out for eleven years, years in which there were great changes and strong resistance to change, some of it coming from Cal himself. The "new" curriculum, which had put Amherst on the educational map, was abolished, as was chapel, chapel that was compulsory to this degree: attendance at least two times a week at a session that lasted ten­minutes, nine of which were taken up by an address by Cal himself or a faculty member or a dignitary who happened to be passing through. In his first annual report Cal proposed implementing an admissions policy that would be, according to the New York Times, "one of diversity - not bound by traditional norms." This would mean a de-emphasis on "somebody's grades or test scores, or the list of his extra-curricular activities" (imagine it!), would mean reaching out to, among others cited, "Americans and foreigners, boys of all races, of all faiths and even no faith." "Boys," you'll note. Atmospheric pressure to go co-educational was on the rise, generated primarily by the faculty, but Cal would leave it to his successor to navigate those waters. From the same source came pressure to abolish fraternities, pressure intensified by a lengthy report on social life at the college. He would resist that too. But whatever the issue, he wanted there to be a conversation, a sharing of views, even confrontation if it came to that. He would hold firm for as long as possible; he would lead the way when he thought his way out of a difficult situation was the right way; he would yield to others when he saw the merits of the alternative that they proposed or saw that there was, after all, no other alternative. At commencement in 1970, in what were among the very last words he uttered as president, he said that he thought a leader was best described as a servant: "Perhaps it is a medical background," he said, "but in leading a man to health, or accompanying him on that last one-way journey, the good physician is in many senses the servant."

When what we call "the sixties" arrived, everything about Cal put him - and the College - in good stead: the medical training, the worldliness, the medieval studies, the Zen, even - surely it is relevant - the fact that he was 6' 4" and towered above almost everyone around. He was a little removed, at times distant, and, it seemed, what with his half-smile and slightly raised eyebrows, bemused. "He kept a certain distance from troubles," a colleague writes, "but without indifference." Most important of all, in a summary word, in the words of his faculty dean, Prosser Gifford, Cal "had one great strength - he never took the furor of opposition, lock-outs, sit-ins, etc., personally."

In a preview of things to come, in the fall of 1965, a few students burned the literature that the Committee for Nonviolent Action had brought to campus; a number of other students watched. In chapel that week Cal said, "The silent ones who stand idly by are almost as guilty as those who interfere physically with freedom of speech... .They believe in their own right to search for truth and they want an open hearing for themselves, but they feel under no obligation to lift their voices in support of another's claim or to criticize the abuse of their rights." At their commencement in 1969, he told the seniors, "We all recognize that for any kind of progress it is the day-to-day, eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation which is essential, and not any major conflagration." Everyone in attendance knew whereof he spoke, which is to say that with reason they took him literally. That year, as he said at the outset of his address, had been ", some year," some year because there had been confrontations - many of them, prolonged, often acrimonious confrontations - and/but as a result, there were no conflagrations.

There had been conflagrations at campuses across the country, and in the spring of that year, it looked as if there would be one at Amherst too. The story deserves to be told in detail. Suffice it here to say that calls for social, racial, and gender justice increased in volume with each month that American troops remained in Vietnam, the war fueling fires on principle but also because students were subject to the draft. There were calls, too, for an examination of Amherst's role in society. How complicitous, how guilty was the College? Issues of campus governance were hotly debated. (Student attendance at faculty meetings? Students consulted in hiring and tenure decisions? Not on your life!) Calls for action took many forms from occupying or trashing buildings to (it was rumored) kidnapping a most distinguished professor who had seemed to incline towards conservative positions and placing him under house arrest. The talk at a mass meeting in the Chapel on Thursday night, May 25th, veered away from threats of violence to a proposal that an Ad Hoc Committee organize a moratorium on all activities the following Monday and Tuesday, a proposal that the faculty accepted on Friday. There ensued two days of meetings (upwards of 1,000 at the one in the Cage) and discussions in which not only students and faculty, but administrators and staff and even trustees took part.

During the proceedings, it was suggested, and the faculty approved the idea of sending a letter to President Nixon. One was drafted by Dean Gifford, worked and re-worked by him and Professor Leo Marx through the night; Cal and, eventually, the vast majority of the college community, signed it. Cal was by no means a leader of the anti-war movement, but the letter did not focus on, or even name, Vietnam. It disputed the published conclusion of many in Nixon's cabinet that campus disorders were caused by a small minority of students. To believe that, it said, would be erroneously to believe that there were "no legitimate and important reasons ... for the anger and sense of impotence felt by many students and faculty." "Until political leadership addresses itself to the major problems of our society," the letter said, and then adduced the monies spent "for military purposes," the needs of America's 23 million poor, "the unequal division of our lives on racial issues" - "until this happens, the concerns and energy of those who know the need for change will seek outlets for their frustration." The New York Times reprinted it (as did other publications) and concluded its lead editorial - titled "The Amherst Declaration" - by agreeing that unless these major problems were addressed, "the great mass of America's youth is going to continue to be in a state of ferment - and has every right to be."

In the eyes of Amherst's black students, racial issues were metaphorically too far down the list of concerns. They called for another moratorium; on May 14t' all activities were suspended; after a morning of speeches and an afternoon of discussions, each led by a member of Afro-Am, a white student, and a professor, Ralph Ellison spoke in the Chapel.

At one point during the first moratorium, a student stood up and announced: "If you want to stage a revolution, the College will organize it for you." Yes, it was all, to a degree, theatrical. But had the curtain come down prematurely, the reality we would have had to face was potentially very ugly. "The fact that we have not had any massive physical confrontations is, I hope neither a cause for dismay to you nor a source of satisfaction to me," Cal told the seniors at Commencement. To repeat: "We all recognize that for any kind of progress it is the day-today, eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation which is essential." He went on: "We are not involved in commanding and in ordering... .We are involved in education."

The following year brought the so-called "incursion" into Cambodia and the deaths at Kent State and the mass meetings at Yale and in New Haven in support of the Black Panthers. The tenor of this time around is indicated by a moment during another mass meeting in February. A student stood up and shouted, "We don't trust you, President Plimpton, we don't trust you." Ben DeMott has recorded what ensued: Cal "met the fierce charge ... with a steady sorrowful glance, and the words, `I know that.., I know that,' thereafter turning to take another question, and another, for three hours." Black students remained frustrated. In the small hours of the morning, joined by their sisters and brothers at the other valley institutions, they occupied Converse, the Library, Merrill Science Center, and College Hall - occupied, and locked and chained the doors. As an officer of the Afro-Am Society later wrote, Cal "wasn't smiling this time." The faculty met, perforce, in Kirby, and resolved to "address seriously the issues presented to it by the Black community of the Five College area" - whose members had just voluntarily vacated the buildings. There followed, not another moratorium but a cessation of classes (and a grade of Pass, if warranted) for those who wanted to do political work, door-to­-door canvassing, for example.

Cal was involved throughout. He was engaged. He led, he allowed others to lead. He presided. Whether immersed or standing just over there to the side, he never blinked.

After that, his eleventh year (he had promised to stay on ten), Cal went to Downstate Medical School in New York as president for seven years and then as a professor for five more. When the president of American University of Beirut was assassinated in 1984, Cal, a member of the board of trustees of the University at the time, agreed to take over.

An oft-told story has it that upon meeting Yasser Arafat, Cal -- typically -- tried to ease the tension. He asked Arafat if there were any thoughts of kidnapping him. "No," said Arafat, "college presidents don't command any ransom." One couldn't be so sure. Shortly thereafter, in a situation that was widely assumed to be one of mistaken identity, the dean of the University's agricultural department, riding in Cal's car, was abducted by the Islamic Jihad and held in captivity for six years.

Of one thing one can be sure: to the College, during what were the most tumultuous years in its history, Cal was invaluable.

Jack Cameron   
Hugh Hawkins   
William Kennick   
Rose Olver   
Kim Townsend


Peter Pouncey, Amherst’s 16th president, died on May 30, 2023, a result of the senile dementia he had suffered from for the past several years. He served as Amherst’s president from 1984 to 1994, and was the College’s first president in more than 50 years to have assumed the presidency without any previous connection to the institution. He had previously been a professor of classics at Columbia University, where he had also been the dean of the undergraduate college from 1972 to 1976.At a memorial service in New York City recently, Peter’s best friend summed up his early life as follows: “A Brit born in China, Peter was preparing to become a Jesuit until he was undone by bodily lusts.” He received his undergraduate degree from Oxford and eventually came to New York City to teach classics in a temporary position at Fordham University. After earning a Ph.D. from Columbia, he immediately joined Columbia’s classics faculty as an assistant professor. Not long afterwards, he was appointed Associate Dean of Columbia College, and, after only one year in that position, became the Dean of the College–an appointment especially extraordinary because it was made even before he had been granted tenure.

 Peter’s performance as the dean during those perilous years was in itself extraordinary. One anecdote from that time will have to suffice; it involves his first official act after becoming dean. It was the early summer of 1972. Peter had just been named dean when a small delegation of gay students came to his office and asked if he would establish a lounge for them in one of Columbia’s dormitories. What in 2023 would scarcely cause a ripple of attention was a very big deal 50 years ago. There were no lounges for gay students at any American university in those years, and no administrator from the central university wanted one. The president of the university hated the idea; the Trustees hated the idea; the eminences of the senior faculty hated the idea. Peter thought simply it was the right thing to do and had no problem taking on the whole university in the interest of what he construed to be the morally correct decision. The gay lounge came immediately into being, and the story of it, and of the controversy surrounding it, received prominent coverage in the New York Times. The lounge continues to exist to this day.

After stepping down as Dean of Columbia College, Peter returned to the faculty, published his first book (The Necessities of War: A Study of Thucydides’ Pessimism) and was granted tenure. Amherst chose him as its president in 1984, an especially fraught time at the College, since the Trustees had just voted to abolish fraternities and the previous acting president, Professor of English Armour Craig, who had initiated the move toward abolition, had been burned in effigy by a large group of students opposed to the decision. While Peter’s immediate task was to help drag the students into a new set of arrangements for their social life—a task that was facilitated by the inevitable wholesale turnover in the student body over the next four years—he also came to Amherst with a longer-term agenda involving the nature of both the student body and the faculty. When he arrived here, he was appalled to discover that only a third of the students received any sort of financial aid, and that the financial aid budget had actually been underspent for the previous several years. The Dean of Admission at the time was a very smart and accomplished Amherst alum—a historian with a Ph.D. and several publications to his credit—who had come to the Amherst position after a long stint as the head of the upper school at a widely-known and respected New England boarding school. The dean had, as a result, a pretty narrow view of the kinds of secondary schools that “prepared”—we use the word advisedly—a student for the academic rigors of Amherst. The consequence was a student body composed primarily of graduates of the classier private schools and public schools from the more affluent suburbs. A running joke among Amherst faculty at the time involved a comparison of the car models one spotted in the faculty and student parking lots. Within a couple of years, and at Peter’s behest, the Dean of Admission had returned to the world of private secondary school education, replaced at Amherst by a young woman of much more democratic leanings.

Peter believed firmly in what has nowadays come to be called “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” though his own more eloquent phrase—reiterated in speech after speech and conversation after conversation—was that Amherst’s student body needed to reflect “a full sample of the nation’s talents.” By the time he relinquished the presidency in 1994, the proportion of financial aid recipients had increased from 33% to 45%, and the percentage of students of color had risen by similar amounts. In percentage terms, that is, the progress that the College made under Peter’s leadership rivalled, and perhaps even exceeded, the admirable gains Amherst has made during the 21st century so far.

Peter was equally concerned with the demographics of the faculty, and his immediate goal was to increase the proportion of women in both tenured and tenure-track positions. By the time he stepped down as president, the percentage of women on the faculty had risen from 16% to 33%. And the overall numbers of faculty members had also increased. For many years, the Trustees had capped the number of faculty members, even though the student body had expanded in size by 25% when the College began to admit women in 1976. It was Peter who finally convinced them to lift the cap and allow the faculty to expand in proportion to the student body.

On a personal level, Peter was known by students, faculty and staff alike for his willingness to extend himself to help out people in difficulty. Despite his superficial appearance as an elitist Englishman, he was a small-d democrat through and through, which is one reason he was so beloved by the people who worked for him, including the whole staff of the president’s house. He had an instinctive sympathy for the underdog, which he displayed in ways both large and small. He exercised this inclination countless times over the years, often when faculty, staff members, or students got themselves in difficulty—financial or otherwise—and approached him for help. Greg Call remembers one seemingly trivial example of this inclination from the time he was first hired as a member of the Math Department. In those days, the practice was that the President, along with the Dean of the Faculty, interviewed all candidates for tenure-track faculty appointments. During the interview, Peter asked Greg if he wanted something to drink, and Greg chose a bottle of grapefruit juice. He proceeded to shake the bottle vigorously, only to realize too late that the cap wasn’t fully engaged. “I’ll always remember,” Greg writes, “Peter’s kindness in putting a very nervous candidate, who had just spilled juice all over his rug, at ease.” Appropriately enough, or perhaps as a result, Greg is now, of course, the Peter R. Pouncey Professor of Mathematics.

After relinquishing the presidency, Peter remained at Amherst for another four years as the Burnell Fobes Professor of Greek, before returning to Columbia as a member of the Society of Senior Scholars and teaching for several more years in Columbia’s core curriculum. It was during those years, though, that his career took one of its most astonishing turns. Unbeknownst to almost anyone, he had been working for many years on and off on his first novel, called Rules for Old Men Waiting. It was published in 2005, garnered much attention and critical praise, was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and won the McKitterick Prize, given by Britain’s Society of Authors for the best first novel by an author more than 40 years old. It’s fair to say, I think, that unless and until the long-rumored secret stash of erotic poetry allegedly written by Amherst’s second president, Heman Humphrey (1823-1845), is discovered, Peter is the only Amherst president to have produced such a literary triumph before, during, or after his presidency. Bill Pritchard, no literary slouch himself, writes that Rules for Old Men Waiting was “a long-contemplated “first novel” full of technical and moral wisdom put in the service of what Henry James called “felt life.” Re-read for the third or fourth time, as I have just done,” Bill continues, “this wholly unexpected novel marks for me the final achievement in a career filled with them, and never once predictable in its scope or direction.”

President Elliott, I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered in the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to President Pouncey’s family.

Respectfully submitted,   
Gregory Call   
Ben Lieber   
William Pritchard   
Lisa Raskin

DAVID RECK (1935-2021)

David Benedict Reck was born on January 12, 1935 in Rising Star, Texas. His father was a minister of German origin descended from a family of farmers and ministers. His mother, descended on her mother’s side from Anglo-Indians, was a devoted parent and deep believer in education. She was a church organist who encouraged David’s interest in music and whose family connection with India influenced him greatly. All three of David’s brothers achieved PhD degrees—Thomas in English, Jon in psychology, and Gregory in anthropology. Like David, Thomas and Gregory became professors.

David’s childhood was full of diverse musical influences ranging from musics of the Texas/Mexico borderland, Grand Ole Opry and Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, to Houston Symphony performances. He worked his way through undergraduate studies at the University of Houston (1956) and master’s work at the University of Texas (1960) playing country and jazz. Through his early thirties, David was, true to his birthplace, a rising star composer blending jazz and improvisation with contemporary classical music. He studied with Paul Pisk, a student of Arnold Schoenberg, at University of Texas at Austin, George Rochberg at the University of Pennsylvania, and at the 1959 Princeton Seminar in Advanced Musical Studies with such luminaries as Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland. In 1965, David’s composition, “A Study in Musical Proportions or How to Love the Row,” was featured at the Festival of New Music at Tanglewood, and a few years later, Aaron Copland praised David’s work in his influential book Our New Music: “Composers like… David Reck make one suspect that the last word has not yet been said about the influence of jazz…” This plug, according to David, made his mother especially proud.

In the early 1960s, David was an active member of New York’s experimental music scene alongside figures like Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Gunther Schuller. At this time, David made ends meet working as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art, and it was during one of his shifts guarding the Picasso “Guernica” room that a young woman approached him. David asked her to wait for him to have coffee at his next break. That fifteen-minute break was David and Carol’s first date, inspiring a relationship that became the marriage lasting for the rest of David’s life.

Despite his rising star, David grew restless in the New York experimental scene. Indeed, hearing Hindustani music concerts in New York and the famous “Curry Concerts” of Indian music at Wesleyan University and his friendship with Indian author Raja Rao changed the course of his life. Connecting back to stories of India related by his missionary grandfather, David combined his experience in composition and improvisation with his new love of Indian music. In 1968, David was awarded a Rockefeller grant (and later a Guggenheim) to study Indian music. He and Carol, a gifted photographer, lived in India from then until 1971, primarily in Chennai, while David studied the multi-stringed South Indian veena with the master musician Sri Veena Tirugokarnam Ramachandra Iyer. David’s artistry on the veena brought him to the center of the Carnatic musical world in Chennai and to stages across South India and the globe for decades to come, performing in some of the most important venues for Carnatic music with renowned artistes. Eventually, David was honored with the title “Sangeetha Sethu” (“Bridger of Musical Traditions”) by the Brhaddvani Music Centre in Chennai.

Returning to the United States in 1971, David enrolled in the signally influential PhD program in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, completing a dissertation in 1983 analyzing the improvisational practices of Tirugokarnam Ramachandra Iyer that developed the cross-cultural analysis of music from live performance data. David joined the Amherst faculty in 1975 as one of the first ethnomusicologists appointed at a liberal arts institution in the United States, arriving with Carol in a well-traveled Volkswagen bus called Garuda—the divine eagle who serves as Lord Vishnu’s mount and ally. This was a moment when the college was expanding its fields of teaching and research, and David’s arrival had an immediate impact in the music department and across the curriculum, weaving a colorful thread into the tweedy texture of Amherst life. In 1977, he published the groundbreaking book Music of the Whole Earth, a beloved ethnomusicological text republished in 1997 and used in Amherst College classrooms to this day. Writing against the area-studies grain of discrete, geographically bound musical traditions, David taught us to hear and grow through musicians around the world working with shared sonic materials and processes. His novel approach in Music of the Whole Earth, rooted in an anti-colonial musical ecumenicity and the open-mindedness about performance and notation David obtained as an experimental composer, rejects the primacy of Western analytic categories. Part of why Music of the Whole Earth has aged so well is that David’s ear and graphical approach to analysis were ahead of their time, doing what digital audio analysis does now with a distinctly human touch—a touch that, for a reviewer in The New York Times, “betray[s] a really original musical mind.” And humanity was always at the center of David’s scholarship. “I study music, and play it,” David writes, “primarily for that magical touch, an emotional contact with music itself that mystically makes me (and others) more human, more attuned to the ecology of ourselves and the world.”

David taught at Amherst for over thirty years, holding appointments in the departments of music and Asian languages and civilizations before retiring in 2006. Thanks to the range of his talents, curiosity, generosity, and expertise, his teaching indeed embraced music of the whole earth. Many of his courses were legendary, with scores of students gathered in Buckley Recital Hall to learn about David’s three Bs—Bach, the Beatles, and Bollywood—and a large part of the football team learning to sing South Indian ragas. At the end of semesters, the corridor outside David’s office swelled with fantastic musical instruments handmade by students in his course called “The Sound Machine”—a testament to David’s conviction that students learn about the material and spiritual foundations of music by making and doing. David’s dedicated teaching was intensely specialized and personal as well. His student Tim Eriksen remembers going to David’s house six days a week at 5:30 AM for 2-3 hours of veena instruction and journeying with a class out into the bird sanctuary at 11:00 PM to listen to Schoenberg’s “Erwartung,” which David blasted from a boombox.

David’s teaching extended beyond Carnatic music, Western classical, and American folk music, and song writing and instrumental composition to embrace an inclusive vision of the liberal arts. His Introduction to Liberal Studies course called “Mirrors and Windows” examined exchanges between Europe and the Indian subcontinent through visual arts, literature, film, and music and served as a model of creative, interdisciplinary teaching for his colleagues. David’s teaching, performing, and curating intensified all aspects of South Asian life on campus and beyond. He brought world-class Carnatic artistes to the Buckley stage (and performed with them), gathering together the South Indian community from all over Western New England at these events. David and Carol were and are beloved figures in the South Asian communities in the valley, organizing and participating in major festivals with music, food, and conviviality.

Another of David’s musical loves was folk fiddling, and, on more than one occasion, he helped transform the campus into a massive bluegrass and old-time music convention. Along with Carol on banjo, George Greenstein on hammered dulcimer, and other faculty friends, David played fiddle in the ragtag Scheisskopf Mountain Boys and Girl. At a raucous gig at a local high school gym, the Scheisskopfs found themselves not playing their absolute best, at which point David leaned over to George and asked, “What are you playing?” “‘Old Joe Clark,’” was George’s reply. “Well,” David responded, “the rest of us are playing ‘Arkansas Traveler’!” David’s nonchalant delight at the Scheisskopf’s tuneful confusion reminds us that, for him, musical perfection is sometimes incidental to joy.

We remember David as an especially kind, generous mentor and colleague at Amherst and across the Five Colleges. His standing monthly lunch dates with newer colleagues let them know they were supported and had an advocate in David. Indeed, a community of ethnomusicology colleagues formed around David, blossoming into the now-thriving Five College Certificate Program in Ethnomusicology, which bears his imprint in its purpose and ethos. In 2021, at the program’s tenth anniversary, David was fêted by generations of ethnomusicologists and Carnatic musicians from across the globe whose lives he has touched. David’s service as chair of the music department was characterized by a humane, improvisatory approach to all the burdens of administration.

In addition to Amherst, David held guest teaching positions at The New School for Social Research, Brown University, and The American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Other influential publications include the co-authored textbook Worlds of Music and numerous articles on Asian and South Asian music, including “Beatles Orientalis: Influences from Asia in a Popular Song Tradition,” still one of the most-downloaded articles from the flagship journal Asian Music. In addition to his Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships, David received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Institute of Indian Studies. Among many prestigious venues around the world, his compositions were performed at the Library of Congress, Tanglewood, the Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Hall, and at festivals in London, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, and Rome. As a veena player, David performed throughout India, Europe, and the United State

It was rare not to see David smiling or to hear an irrepressible joy in his silver-timbred, Texas-tinged voice. Having survived cancer and a heart attack, David was an ardent believer in the restorative power of music, coupled with his lengthy daily walks around South Amherst. From his hospital bed, David played Shree Satyanarayanam by the great Carnatic poet-musician Muthuswami Dikshitar on his veena. He died on September 30, 2021.

David is survived by his wife Carol, his daughter Nina, his son Daniel, his grandson Oscar, and two brothers.

Respectfully submitted,

Alan Babb   
Jeffers Engelhardt (chair)   
George Greenstein   
Jagu Jagannathan   
David Schneider

President Martin, I move that the faculty adopt this memorial minute by rising to listen to a recording of David playing the veena, that it be inscribed in the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be delivered to Professor Reck’s family.

MARTHA SAXTON A Tribute to Marth: Jan 15, 2024

Martha Saxton died on July 18, 2023 at the age of 77. In the twenty years she taught at Amherst College, Martha left a deep mark on the curriculum, students, faculty, staff, and our understanding of the college’s history. She provided a model on how to be both meticulous and audacious.

Martha’s career took an unusual trajectory in the years leading up to that arrival – as it continued to do throughout her time here. Having received a B.A. in History from the University of Chicago in 1967, she proceeded to build a career as a freelance writer for several decades. Her first book, published in 1976, was a biography of the 1950s actress Jayne Mansfield. If Mansfield emerged in that text as something less than tragic, she also seemed to Martha to deserve the sort of serious treatment that made the movie star’s life a story capable of telling us something important about the world we – and especially the women among us – live in.

In 1977, she published another biography, this time of Louisa May Alcott, the renowned 19th-century author of Little Women and many other books. In it, Martha’s genius for connecting the inner life of women to the societies in which they negotiate their lives gained even greater traction.  Here, moreover, her training as a historian showed more clearly in the depth and breadth of the research she conducted into Alcott’s life and times. More importantly, she demonstrated the historian’s commitment to rendering the past -- as much as possible – as it was and not as the writer wished it to be. Her young Louisa May is a woman unfit for the limitations of Victorian womanhood, but she is determined in her adulthood to justify its ways to her fellow citizens.

Within a few years of its publication, Martha enrolled in the Ph.D. program in History at Columbia, and earned her doctorate in 1989. Working under Eric Foner, one of the most eminent historians of his generation, Martha took on a subject of great originality, one that guaranteed that her mentor, for all his prodigious scholarly virtues, would be observing, as much as directing, her progress. As in all things, Martha was her own woman. The book that eventuated from the dissertation, Being Good: Women’s Moral Values in Early America, published in 2003, is almost uncategorizable. It asked a question that would have been difficult to answer in any one time or place – “How did American women think about trying to live a good life?” – and proposed to explore it in three quite disparate settings: 17th-century Puritan New England; 18th-century tidewater Virginia; and 19th century St. Louis.

Being Good is a masterpiece of archival research and of complex analysis that contains scores of powerful insights into women’s lives. One of its reviewers called it “a work of literature, which is to say, of nuanced passion, wisdom, and revelation.” It is also the work of a public intellectual, one who speaks at all times to all women and to all citizens. This same reviewer wrote that this book’s significance was for an audience beyond the academy: “If you have an interest in the subject of the American woman – or if you are simply an American woman interested in knowing how you got to be who you are – read it.”

In the late 1990s, Martha began collaborating with Frank Couvares on a major revision of the classic work of historiography, Interpretations of American History, which had gone through six editions under its founding authors.  Frank described Martha as the ideal scholarly partner in such an enterprise: hard-working, cool-headed, and utterly without self-importance, but sure of what she knows and ready to merge that with what her partner knows in such a way as to make the final product a true collaboration.

With visiting artist Wendy Ewald, fellow artist Faizal Sheikh, and human rights activist Thomas Keenan, Martha produced a book called The Transformation of This World Depends on You. Based on research in the Amherst College archives, and using photographs, etchings, letters, and other documents, they traced the lives of nine students who, in the late nineteenth century, became missionaries to Asia and the Pacific. Such an inventive cross-disciplinary venture could not have been conceived but for Martha’s imagination and ambition.

Martha remained extraordinarily productive after her retirement from Amherst College. She edited the magisterial bicentennial volume, Amherst in the World, to which she contributed a chapter on co-education at Amherst College. She published a much-acclaimed biography, The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington (2019) in which she wrote, "I have spent my life studying and writing North American women's history to try to retrieve some of what has been lost, to try to replace incomprehension or criticism with historical context, and to substitute evidence for stereotypes and sentiment."  At the time of her death, she had almost completed a biography of the 18th-century English historian Edward Gibbon which will be published posthumously.

Martha taught an extraordinary range of courses at Amherst in the History and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies departments. Her courses concerned the lives of women of color, particularly enslaved and incarcerated women in 19th century America. They reflected her passionate commitment to feminism and social justice.

This exacting historian was audacious in what she taught and how she taught. In one memorable course, she asked students to rewrite Wikipedia entries to provide more extensive and accurate renderings of women’s history. Amrita Basu co- taught with Martha courses on Gender and the Environment and on Human Rights Activism. Martha’s knowledge of the field and its practitioners, some of whom she brought to campus, was formidable. It was from Martha that Amrita learned about the history of human rights and its immeasurable if contested applications.

Michele Barale, who taught an introductory course in Women and Gender Studies Martha recalls,

What I can offer is Martha’s patience and generosity in the classroom. She did not speed across, or ignore material in order to keep to her syllabus.  If she felt that a topic had not been really gotten at, she would push, question further, probe the class as to why they wanted to pass shallowly over a subject. She was never aggressive in doing this. Just patient. If the class clearly was unable to pursue the matter more fully, she would talk about it herself for a while to see if this would get things moving. She honored her students’ struggles with an idea. It wasn’t just the usual “no question is dumb” stuff, but she was often able to take the seemingly foolish or mis-directed interest of a question and turn it a few degrees in another direction so that it revealed something more. And she was creative/daring in her choices of texts. ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin”—which David Blight I believe said he was terrified of teaching. ‘Little Men” — such an unflavored book for Alcott fans. But what else might we expect from an historian who wrote a book about Jayne Mansfield (not Marilyn Monroe) and not George but Martha Washington. Martha’s perspective was unusual, on a slant, offering surprise.

In the wake of turmoil around sexual assault on campus, Martha and Wendy Ewald co-taught a seminar entitled Representing Equality and together with their students, published A Sex and Education Handbook: By and for Amherst College Students to help incoming students address the gender inequalities that result in sexual violence.

Martha’s greatest, most fulfilling experiences, were teaching courses at the Hampshire County Jail and Correctional Facility for “inside” (incarcerated) and “outside” (Amherst College) students. In a moving article that Martha published on this experience she wrote,

At its best, an Inside/Out human rights class can be a semester long process of radicalizing students. At a minimum, it humanizes incarcerated students and their college classmates. Diminished fear permits learning of many kinds. Some outside students get their first deep lungful of the fetid air of inequality. For a few, this will mean activism. Realistically, it is probably also for a few a form of tourism. In between those poles, many positive changes can happen.

Numerous inside –namely Amherst College--students felt that their course with Martha at the jail changed their lives. One of them, in celebrating Martha’s retirement from the college in 2016, wrote:

My experience in Perspectives on Economy and Criminal Justice, which took place inside the Hampshire County Jail, was truly transformative. I've brought up the course at almost every job interview I've had, because no other class at Amherst has had such a lasting impression on me. I am now in my final year of law school at Yale and will be pursuing a career as a public defender, in part because of your class. I am really grateful for the experience…

Students were also inspired by Martha’s ability to engage deeply with the college while remaining her own woman. One student wrote,

You were different. You seemed independent of the institution, somehow separate and above any intellectual or customary constraints. And, without apology, you were about justice.

This student continued,

What I started to see in 2010 bloomed fully for me two years later when my actions started to mimic yours, albeit in a different realm. I no longer just thought about justice on a grand scale or in a historical perspective, but I with others began acting it out on the small, campus-student and campus-administrative scale. What I cared about in history became a lived experience.

Given the respect Martha commanded among the faculty, it is not surprising that she served on some of the most important college committees—mostly notably on the Special Committee on Amherst Education and twice on the Committee of Six. A citation by colleagues to mark Martha’s retirement described her as “worldly, grounded, compassionate, irreverent, modest, witty, soft spoken, outspoken, rebellious, diplomatic, audacious, and wise.”

We loved Martha for all these qualities and more— for her ability to traverse intellectual and geographic boundaries; for her courage in speaking out when it was hardest and mattered most; for the depth, clarity, and honesty of her psychological insights; and for her grace and fortitude in confronting daunting challenges in her personal life and in the political world which she cared so deeply about.

President Elliott, I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence and entered into the records of the College, and that a copy be sent to Martha’s family.

Respectfully submitted,

Michèle Barale
Amrita Basu
Frank Couvares
Frederick Griffiths

CARL N. SCHMALZ, JR. (1926-2013)

Anyone who was a colleague or friend knew Professor Carl N. Schmalz, Jr. as “Dick.” Dick Schmalz was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan the day after Christmas, 1926. He grew up with his family in Belmont, Massachusetts; graduated from Harvard University and earned a Ph.D. degree in Fine Arts from Harvard with a dissertation on the Disasters of War by Francisco Goya, supervised by the renowned art historian, Seymour Slive. Dick began his academic career at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where he taught courses in both the history and the practice of art while also serving as curator and ultimately associate director of Bowdoin’s stunning Walter Art Gallery. Dick came to Amherst in 1962. He was made full professor and awarded an honorary Amherst degree in 1969.

To understand Dick’s contributions to our lives, we need to backtrack to 1943 when at seventeen he began studying the art of painting with Eliot O’Hara at the O’Hara School in Goose Rocks Beach, just north of Kennebunkport, Maine. Three years later, he became an instructor at the O’Hara School. It is fair to say, that before anything else, Dick was an artist and teacher. He died last winter at eighty-six preparing to teach another group of students from all over the country how they might discover or refine their unique artistic aspirations.

During his long tenure at Amherst, Dick was the very embodiment of the College’s departmental program of Fine Arts that sought always to integrate the discipline of the practice of art and the discipline of art history. His teaching goals, like those of the department, were at their core interdisciplinary, often resulting in the recognition that the very best “artists” among our students were not surprisingly also the very best “art historians.” For Dick theory and practice animated both disciplines in their common movement toward human understanding. In his life and teaching Dick always avoided that cognitive and pedagogical split between image and word, mind and body that diminishes so many undergraduate art departments. Instead, he combined the multiple capacities of our intelligence in a singular aspiration to what might be called the reconciliatory art of art and by this act he inspired his colleagues to do likewise for the everlasting benefit to themselves and generations of fortunate students.

His many years of offering an Introduction to the History of Art – often known as darkness at noon, but at Amherst was called Art 11 – brought countless eager young students sufficiently deeply into the mysterious thrall of art that they would never quite recover from its wondrous spell. Although many went on to careers as artists, art historians, gallery and museum administrators, everyone left this course as a more humanely alert person. In another course on the History of Photography which included hands-on exercises in color, form and line, he guided students’ work in both studio and library research. He gave seminars on the art of the great masters, including Goya’s haunting prints of human degradation. In every instance he allowed image and word to intersect as constituents of a fuller more nuanced revelation of our human condition. Dick’s collaboration in a first-year seminar called “The Imagined Landscape” with colleagues from other disciplines was a model of his life-long determination to share his abiding embrace of verbal and visual understanding as the basis of artistic wisdom.

All the while, from the beginning, Dick offered instruction, guidance and inspiration for those students interested in practicing their art within the medium of watercolor. For years, the students in his classes could be found everywhere around the campus, exploiting the latest plain air site to see freshly and to construct some form of a visual equivalent of their experience and, from time to time, even engage with Thoreau’s challenge “to awaken to a higher life than we fell asleep from.” Dick’s rare talent involved speaking clearly, often eloquently, explaining what he was actually doing – mixing pigment with water to achieve a precise color-value effect – even as the image of his painting was taking shape on the white paper before him. As an art historian and artist-teacher and painter – Dick exemplified an enviable combination of tradition and innovation, rootedness and flexibility, discipline and creative vulnerability.

During the summer for some twenty years Dick continued teaching his craft as he had earlier with Eliot O’Hara in his own Watercolor Workshops situated in Kennebunkport, Maine. After retiring in 1994 he taught at the Rock Garden Inn of the Sebasco Estates and at the Heartwood College of Art in Kennebunk, Maine.

In addition to articles in professional journals, Professor Schmalz wrote several books on watercolor painting. One recreated visually and verbally the working approach of his teacher, Eliot O’Hara. Always intent on the direct application of his knowledge and skill for the benefit of others, Dick told the reader that “if followed in sequence, these lessons will provide the building blocks of watercolor technique that will enable the beginner to approach the medium with confidence, and will encourage the advanced painter to develop his [or her] painting   
technique by further exploring new approaches to his [or her] work.” In another book, entitled Watercolor Your Way, he developed particular means for practicing artists to discover and develop their own special kind of artistry and vision.

As many artists will, Dick served as a juror for numerous exhibitions of original work. He lectured and offered painting workshops throughout the United States, Canada, and, as Winslow Homer students will appreciate Bermuda. He was elected as a charter member of the Watercolor USA Honor Society. He received numerous national and regional awards. His paintings inform the space of many public collections and hang on the walls of hundreds of private homes.

Many of us shared in the hospitality offered by Dick and his beloved wife Do in their warm and generous home on Arnold Road. At uncounted and unforgettable dinner parties for friends and colleagues who gathered in the old tradition of affectionate outreach, talk of art and life often carried into the morning hours as the sun rose over the Pelham hills. At one such occasion to celebrate Dick’s birthday, everyone present was charmed by a richly decorated Christmas tree rotating slowly in the silver tree holder Dick’s grandfather had brought with him from Germany. The lights from that tree could be seen from the college and for many miles around, literally “spreading light across the earth,” even as Dick’s vibrant and radiant paintings still do.

To remember Dick is to remember his art. In his paintings, Dick Schmalz celebrated life through the creation of light and color. The patterns of cast shadows establish rhythmical gestures in his compositions, providing an intimacy of shared human experience. The sheer magic of the shifts in color comprising light and shadow is spellbinding. His drawing is masterful to the degree that it appears effortless, a quality he worked hard to establish. An integral aspect of his painting is the active nature of his brushwork. Dick's hand is always present in his paintings as you see strokes of watercolor work simultaneously to create illusions of form, space, texture and light, resulting in a vivid “sense of place.” As you look you become ever more aware of a unique moment of time in a particular place that will lead you to the transcendent nature of his art: the humanistic, generous and luminous qualities, including the serene presence of duration, found in all of his paintings. Dick’s artistic medium of choice was watercolor in which the elusive image is not an opaque representation of light. It is instead, palpably, visibly, the very transparency of light itself, incarnated as color suspended in water tinted with pigment – not unlike our own corporeal being. Dick was a deeply spiritual artist whose vision reached out to wholeness beyond all but   
the most poetic grasp. Encountered in silence, his paintings are, one by one, reminiscent of the words the Irish poet John O’Donohue offers as a blessing to be spoken by an infant about to enter the world:

May my eyes never lose sight   
Of why I have come here,   
That I never be claimed   
By the falsity of fear   
Or eat the bread of bitterness.   
In everything I do, think,   
Feel or say,   
May I allow the light of the world I am leaving   
To shine through and carry me home.   
Normally at this point, we would ask everyone to stand for a moment of silence to honor   
our dear colleague. May we ask you to remain seated a moment longer to allow Dick’s artistic   
vision and light to illuminate this room?   

Hommage to Zurbarán   
Cecil’s Peak, Queensland, New Zealand   
Half Moon Island, Antartica   
Medomak River, Waldoborough, Maine   
Beach at Kiawah Island, South Carolina   
Meadows Edge, Maine   
Palmettos and Bananas, Bahamas Botanical Garden   
View from Lorques, Côtes d’Azur   
The Pools, Sebasco, Maine   
Surf, Fortunes Rocks, Maine   
Respectfully submitted,   
Thomas Looker   
John Pemberton   
Robert Sweeney   
Joel Upton   
May we stand in a moment of silence…


Although his name was often mispronounced and misspelled, probably no American historian of recent times was as widely known to the public as Henry Steele Commager. Many had studied from his textbooks, heard his lectures, or seen him interviewed on television. For fellow historians, he was a presence. If they had met him, they told anecdotes. If not, they asked questions of those who had. Doubtless, Commager and his ideas will be the subject of future historical study; in fact, the process has already begun.

Although often associated with his Danish ancestry (he had spent a year of graduate study in Denmark and wrote his dissertation on eighteenth-century Danish reform), Commager’s surname traced to French Huguenot ancestors. Born in Pittsburgh, October 25, 1902, and orphaned by age ten, he was reared in Toledo by his Danish-American maternal grandfather. At the University of Chicago, where he earned three degrees (1923, 1924, 1928), he was an assistant to the constitutional historian Andrew C. McLaughlin.

The young scholar never published his dissertation (though it won a prize from the American Historical Association). American history soon dominated his teaching, beginning with his appointment at New York University in 1926. The same was true of his publications, notably The Growth of the American Republic (1930), co-authored with Samuel Eliot Morison, Documents of American History (1934), which he sometimes cited as his most important historical contribution, and Theodore Parker: Yankee Crusader (1936). His articles, particularly frequent book reviews in the New York Herald Tribune, enhanced his reputation as a historian of unusual energy and reach, and he moved to a professorship at Columbia University in 1938.

World War II cast Commager in a new role as intellectual ambassador abroad and public intellectual at home. He consulted, lectured, and wrote for the Office of War Information and the War Department besides holding the Pitt Professorship at Cambridge University in 1942–43. His social commentaries, drawing on historical parallels, appeared in journals of opinion, most often the New York Times Magazine and a magazine for students, the Scholastic. As with his historical writings, his liveliness of style engaged readers, and his confident liberalism reaffirmed the idealism of the war years.

Increasing recognition came after the war. In an enlarged edition, The Growth of the American Republic became for a time the most popular of all college American history textbooks. His book The American Mind (1950) enlivened the then– rising field of intellectual history, and its concept “the watershed of the Nineties” stimulated debate and elaboration. Commager taught abroad in the summer and was Harmsworth Professor at Oxford in 1952–53. Whereas his 1943 volume Majority Rule and Minority Rights had stressed the justice of majority rule in a democratic society, his Freedom, Loyalty, Dissent (1954) declared the need for a free society to tolerate all sorts of dissenters, including Communists. As Neil Jumonville’s forthcoming study shows, Commager in the McCarthy Era was bolder than most intellectuals in making the case for civil liberties, in part because he himself had no radical past to cause hesitation. Not that he was ever a hesitater.

At Columbia, some of his lecture courses became legendary, especially his course in American constitutional history, where auditors added to the crowd of enrolled students. Though he supervised fewer Ph.D. dissertations than some of his colleagues, those whose work he guided commented in the Festschrift they issued in 1967: “If he sometimes seemed irascible and cutting, it was because he always demanded the utmost of which we were capable and never confused impersonal professional standards with his personal feelings toward us.”

The 1956 shift of this historical celebrity to a small liberal arts college caused widespread comment. Commager’s move to Amherst, in the long run a distinct success, entailed a somewhat difficult period of adjustment. An urbanite, university-oriented public figure found himself in a small town at a college that prided itself on close faculty interaction with students and collaborative teaching among faculty. Commager’s three-year continuation as an adjunct at Columbia and his heavy schedule of lectures elsewhere caused some collegial irritation. Students in his classes complained that he did not remember their names. Some of us remember a day nearly forty years ago when Henry appeared, a minute late, to lecture to the three hundred sophomores and ten faculty members in American Studies, then a required course. His first words were, “What was I supposed to talk about?” He was told, after which he spoke extempore for 49 minutes. He must have stopped for breath, but the performance was breath-taking.

Before long Commager found a modus vivendi in the new setting. He hired student assistants, some of whom became lifelong friends. He offered not lecture courses, but small seminars often focusing on the Constitution and judiciary. Students welcomed the stimulation of his classes, even if there was less colloquy than under the Amherst norm. Colleagues appreciated his bold assertions of the limits of administrators’ power and experienced the charm of his conversation with its sage advice, surprising quotations, and anecdotes about the famous.

Perhaps most important in his adjustment to his new milieu was the role of Evan Commager, whom he had married in 1928. A gifted hostess, an author of children’s books, her gentle wittiness balanced Henry’s ebullient, but sometimes abrupt, social encounters. In time Amherst came to seem like home to this peripatetic expounder of ideas. He kept the same residence for over forty years, a South Pleasant Street house to which he added a huge office-study. He suffered blows that brought him closer to others – the death of Evan in 1969 and the onset of impaired vision. In 1979 he married Mary Powlesland, a historian of Latin America with whom he shared various editorial projects and who became a lively presence in the Amherst community.

Commager’s fearlessness in addressing controversial public issues never appeared more dramatically than in his opposition to the Vietnam War. At a teach-in, which by chance directly followed a TV address by President Johnson, Commager eloquently challenged the President’s rationale for the war and argued the inadequacy of his peace initiatives.

The articulate willingness to speak with both historical and moral authority made Commager a favorite of the media. The resulting exposure ranged from pithy quotations in AP stories to extended interviews with Dick Cavett or Bill Moyers. His lectures drew large audiences, and often an honorary degree was part of the occasion. Other honors included election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and awards from the American Civil Liberties Union. Eager to reach a broad audience, he published in Look and TV Guide as well as Daedalus and the Saturday Review.

Commager evinced no interest in the offices of professional associations. If he ever served on an academic committee, he soon came to look on such involvement as a waste of time. At Amherst, he rarely spoke in faculty meetings, but when he did, his British style of address delighted his colleagues.

From 1972 till 1992, though formally retired, Commager continued to teach at Amherst as Simpson Lecturer, a position once held by Robert Frost. At the time he was forced to give up teaching, alumni and other friends endowed an Amherst chair in his honor. His death, from pneumonia, came March 2, 1998. Although age took its toll, he was able to remain in his own home and could speak articulately, sometimes eloquently, even when he was not sure of his visitor’s identity.

Praiseful friends, and there have been many, found no easy characterization for Henry Commager. To Harold Hyman and Leonard Levy, he was “an implacable rationalist,” but to Allan Nevins, “essentially a romantic.” A believer in progress, Commager embraced dominant national developments of the past three centuries– the Enlightenment framework set by the Founders, the reformist moralism of the nineteenth century, and the stronger central government of the twentieth. But the longer he lived, the clearer it became that he cared most about the first.

Allen Guttmann   
Gordon Levin   
Stanley Rabinowitz   
Hugh Hawkins

DUDLEY H. TOWNE (1924 - 2002)

Dudley Towne joined the Amherst faculty as an instructor in physics in 1952. Half a century later, after 45 years on the teaching faculty and 5 years of retirement, he died at his home in Amherst. With his passing, the college has lost one of its greatest teachers.

Dudley entered Yale in 1941 but two years later he was in the US Army Signal Corps, where he became chief radio operator in Chungking, headquarters of the Chinese Nationalist forces. This began a lifelong interest in China, its culture, and its language (just one of many languages in which he became proficient). In talking about his army days, Dudley was fond of telling how he personally ended WWII. In August 1945 MacArthur wanted to inform the Japanese authorities of the precise procedures for ending hostilities and sent a message to Chungking, instructing Dudley to resend it throughout China, assuming that the Japanese would be monitoring the American transmissions and would forward the message to the emperor. Then, having brought the war to a successful conclusion, Dudley returned to Yale, went on to Harvard where he completed a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, and thence to Amherst.

Throughout his time on our faculty - in introductory courses in physics and mathematics, general education courses such as Science 1-2 (part of the core curriculum), Problems of Inquiry and. ILS, intermediate and advanced physics courses, or senior thesis advising - his teaching was admired by his colleagues and by his students. Elegance, beauty, and intellectual rigor describe nearly everything Dudley touched. "Quality of mind" is a characteristic we attribute to those among us whom we admire - few could match him in that regard.

As one modest example of Dudley's style, here is a simple homework exercise in introductory physics. If an object were released at a distance from the sun equal to the radius of the earth's orbit, how long would it take to fall into the sun? A pedestrian physicist (of whom there are a few, but not, of course, at Amherst) would begin by looking up the values of Newton's gravitational constant and the mass of the sun, then set up a rather nasty looking integral, and eventually grind out a numerical answer. The elegant approach, Dudley's preference, is to realize that in falling toward the sun, such an object would be entering a highly elliptical orbit about the sun, and it is then but an easy step, using Kepler's laws, to calculate the desired time as a certain fraction of a year.

In a 1979 letter to a visitor who was to be teaching thermodynamics, a course Dudley had just been giving, he writes: "Generally we favor emphasizing Physics as `Natural Philosophy', and highlighting the intellectual accomplishments rather than merely how to deal with certain formulas. ... I am unsatisfied with my own understanding of some fundamental matters ... and hope to have a chance to discuss them with you." And, as he goes on to describe his own classes, he interjects: "It must be admitted that I have included some details [of my own approach] for the purpose of bragging about them". Dudley was a good teacher, and he knew it!

And there is a wonderful document titled "Personal Knowledge of the Universe" that he wrote to clarify his own thinking in preparation for an ILS course. It begins: "The following is a list of cosmological assumptions which I accept not merely on the basis of somebody else's say-so, but because the `facts' (observations I have either made for myself or at least know how to make) seem to support no other conclusion. Proposition I. The earth is approximately spherical and has a radius of approximately 4,000 miles." There follows a page of "Evidence", and then Proposition II: "The stars are very far away compared with the radius of the earth". And so it continues, through 25 closely argued pages, what we know about the dimensions of the universe and how we know it. That was his style - emphasis not merely on what we know, but how we know what we know.

Dudley's reputation for fairness, intellectual seriousness, and clarity of argument was by no means limited to the science departments. In 1961, only nine years after his appointment, he was elected to the Committee of Six, only the 2nd associate professor in the history of the college to be trusted with that responsibility. That was only the first of several times that he was chosen for the Committee of Six, and he served as well on all the other important college committees.

When Dudley first came to Amherst, he created a new undergraduate course on "Waves", a course for which there was no model elsewhere. "Waves" became a central feature of our physics curriculum, and in 1967 he published a textbook, "Wave Phenomena", a book that received rave reviews - and which is still in print and still in use. Unlike some theoretical physicists, Dudley never lost sight of the fact that science is rooted in experiments, and laboratory work in optics was a vital part of the course. The optics lab was his territory, and the wonderful instruments there were his friends. Many of his colleagues and students can remember times when he would summon one of us into the lab to see some beautiful optical effect. Sometimes on looking through a slit or telescope, we might only be able to see our own eyelashes, yet Dudley's enthusiasm for the phenomena was such that we often felt compelled to lie a little bit. Many of us can tell of late-night phone calls when he would awaken us in the early hours with exhortations to go outdoors to observe a curious ring around the moon or a spectacular auroral display, and much of what his colleagues know about the night sky is the result of his patient instruction.

His "Wave Phenomena" book was an instant classic. Owners of the first edition treasure it not only for its content but also for its dust jacket, featuring a beautiful photograph of a diffraction pattern, a photograph taken by the author. But although he was a scholar in the best sense of the word, he was not by any means a frequent publisher. His well deserved Amherst reputation was based almost exclusively on his superb teaching.

And a superb teacher he was, in Spanish as well as in English. He went to Colombia in 1962 to teach for a year at Universidad del Valle. A colleague there recalls a lecture, which Dudley began by quoting from La Voragine, a classic in Colombian literature. He illustrated the book's description of the beauty and colors of the jungle with elegant and lovely demonstrations of polarized light; the lecture was followed by three minutes of sustained applause.

Some of Dudley's ancestors lived in Amherst and nearby towns. Dudley, too, was a part of the community beyond the college. When the Amherst Cinema Center was first being dreamt of, Dudley kept it going with an extraordinarily generous gift. And now, though he had chosen to be an anonymous donor, the Board of Directors has decided to name one of the performance rooms, appropriately, "Towne Hall".

Dudley loved music, he was an actively engaged listener at live performances of all kinds, and he himself, an excellent countertenor, was a performer. At Yale, he played Mabel in a production of Pirates of Penzance and later, in Amherst, sang with the Gay Men's Chorus and the Da Camera Singers, not to mention his impromptu presentations at Physics Department Christmas parties of some little known songs such as "The Professor's Song", "The EpsilonDelta Love Song" ("For every little epsilon, there's a delta"), and "The Derivative Song".

Dudley was gay, but for his first 26 years on the faculty, this was known to very few if any on the campus. For most" of that time, he was at risk every day of being "discovered" and of instantly being dismissed, bringing his academic career to a premature end. Dudley came out in 1978 at age 54, the first Amherst faculty member to do so who did not get fired.

In 1993, Dudley put on his army uniform one more time. The occasion was a gay veterans march on Washington. At that time, Colin Powell (then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) was threatening to resign unless Clinton backed off from his promise to allow gays to serve openly in the military. In the procession, Dudley carried a homemade sign with the legend "Colin Powell is afraid of ME!" Someone took a snapshot of him with his sign, a snapshot of which he only learned when it was made into a postcard and sold, a card which a friend sent him in the mail. In that way, his likeness (without his name) has been circulated around the world. It was in keeping with Dudley's sense of integrity that is was for his gayness that he wanted to be known as much as it was for his esteemed reputation as Professor of Physics at Amherst College.

Since his retirement in 1997, he has collected his papers and written essays about various aspects of his life and about the college. Some 16 boxes of his papers (including the postcard and the WWII radio message) now reside in Frost's Special Collections. On most Tuesdays, he has come up to Valentine to have lunch with his colleagues. At first, he would walk up the hill from his home on Dana Place. Increasingly in the last year or two, he has needed transportation help, but he continued to enjoy the interaction and the conversation. The night before he died, when a colleague called to arrange for lunch the next day, he said: "I don't feel up to it this week, but I really enjoy these Tuesday lunches. I'll see you next week."

Howell D. Chickering    
Joel E. Gordon    
Kannan Jagannathan    
Donald S. Pitkin    
Robert H. Romer


Driven from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, organist and composer Dr. Lucius R. Weathersby found a home as a guest artist here at Amherst this past September. On March 17, 2006, at the age of 37, he suddenly died. This minute is to express our intense sorrow at Lucius’s death and to record some memorable contributions he made to Amherst and to the larger community in the few short months he was with us.

Despite the difficulty of his circumstances, Lucius arrived at Amherst with his good nature, infectious humor, and passion for music apparently unshaken. Even as his home, job, and community were taken from him, he looked forward, involving himself immediately in teaching and making music in Amherst, maintaining his international musical activities, and developing a new life for himself in his adopted community. In the months before his death, he traveled to Germany to record an album of organ music in tribute to the victims of Katrina and took on the position of Music Director at the South Congregational Church in Springfield. His music-making brought together many strands: an admirable fluency for improvisation, imaginative arrangements of music from his own African-American tradition, a highly personal and directly expressive compositional ethic, and a wide-ranging repertory combining the classical and the vernacular. He believed in and practiced music as an agent of uplift, and his intended audience was no less than the world community.

Lucius was born in Houston and grew up in Many, Louisiana. He was awarded the B.A. degree with majors in music and German from New Orleans’s Dillard University in 1989, the Master of Music degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 1999, and the Ph.D. from Cincinnati’s Union Institute in 2002. He was Assistant Professor of Music and African World Studies at Dillard when Katrina struck. A major figure in the promotion of African-American music internationally, Lucius had lectured at Cambridge University and the University of London and had collaborated extensively in Italy with composer and philosopher Alberto Patron. He had given lectures at Yale and at various chapters of the American Guild of Organists and had published numerous articles on such topics as the origins of African-American music and works by the African composers Felá Sówándé and J. H. Kwabena Nketia. He had served as editor of The Organ Music of William Grant Still. His compositions include widely performed works for organ, brass, chorus, and chamber orchestra. Albany Records recorded his “Spiritual Fantasy: Organ Works by African and African-American Composers” in 2000 and a CD of music for flute and piano by African and African-American composers, in collaboration with flutist Wendy Hymes, in 2001.

At Amherst, Lucius touched down lightly but left a big imprint. He gave personal context to the visit of the Campbell Brothers and their presentation of Black church music, sharing with our students the essential, not decorative, quality of music in the Black religious experience. To a music theory class, Lucius gave a lecture on César Franck that went far beyond music theory. In the end, that presentation, filled with his charisma and good humor, was not only about Franck, but about the French organ tradition, the construction of organ pipes, and even cooking as a metaphor for composition. It concluded with Lucius's poignant retelling of the story of Franck's own death, and about the French master's last trip to the organ loft at Saint Clothilde. This memory, of course, has deeper resonances for all of us today. We note parenthetically that, following his return from his recording trip to Germany in mid-winter, Lucius recounted that he “nearly froze” in the organ loft of the unheated but historically important church where the recording was being made, in the midst of one of Germany’s worst cold spells in many years. Typically resourceful, he rounded up several electric heaters, thawed himself out, and completed the recording on schedule. In a composition class, he held the students rapt with his plea for them to look beyond their narrow concept of the “ideal” listener, to strive to communicate as broadly as possible, regardless of their individual styles. He gave personal substance to a renewal of the liberating concept of music as the universal language.

In Johnson Chapel early in November, Lucius presented an organ recital of exceptional interest that included his own unique compositions, the works of several little known African-American composers, and pieces by Amherst colleagues Richard Beaudoin and Eric Sawyer. Each was lucidly introduced and woven into a musical fabric of great strength and warmth. He closed the program with an extended improvisation on original themes submitted – at that moment – by two Amherst students. True to his roots, Lucius felt the need to reach beyond the academic community to the music directorship at South Church in Springfield. Here his contributions, mighty as they were on the musical front, extended to his cleaning out the church basement almost single-handedly – a companionable effort, over the miles, with his friends in New Orleans who were doing the same.

Lucius Weathersby’s broad smile and bright eyes drew you in, but what held you were his bristling ideas, his sense of adventure, and his bold humanity. Brief as it was, his time with us has left us changed and better.

I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered into the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to Dr. Weathersby’s family.

Jeffers Engelhardt   
David Schneider   
Lewis Spratlan   
Janet Tobin


DONALD WHITE (1932 - 2022)

Donald Owen White, Emeritus Professor of German, passed away on Wednesday, December 21, 2022, at the Barre Gardens in Barre, Vermont.

Don was born on March, 2, 1932, in Lewiston, Maine, and grew up in Norwich, Connecticut. After graduating from St. Patrick’s Parochial School and Norwich Free Academy in 1949, Don attended Yale University, where he majored in German. In 1953, he received his baccalaureate degree. Also in 1953, he received a Fulbright scholarship for graduate studies at Heidelberg University, where he met Adelheid Hofmann. The two married in 1954 and moved back to Yale. In 1957, upon obtaining a master’s degree in German, Don was hired by Amherst College, where he taught for forty-two years. In 1963, Don received a Ph.D. degree from Yale in German. He received tenure at Amherst College in 1970 and was promoted to full professor in 1977.

Don and his first wife Adelheid had four children—two sons and two daughters. Over the decades, Don’s family grew, to include his children’s spouses, as well as eight grandchildren. After thirty-seven years of marriage, Don and Adelheid divorced amicably in 1991.

Don was a quiet person, but his teaching style exemplified the kind of “close colloquy” that Amherst College aspires to. Rather than lecturing at students, Don sought to involve them in an exploratory conversation, gently enabling them to draw their own conclusions. Don wore his comprehensive humanistic erudition lightly, sharing his immense knowledge of a broad range of subjects with graciousness and generosity. To quote from a letter written by the board of trustees in 1999 upon his retirement: “In the classroom you are equally at home teaching a poem by Hölderlin or Rilke, relating to the impact of Luther’s Reformation, discussing Weimar modernism and the Bauhaus, and analyzing Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve-tone music as it influenced the narrative art of your beloved Thomas Mann. For, whenever possible, as a teacher and scholar, you have explored the interrelationship of the arts—and most especially the kinship between your two great loves, poetry and music.”

Unfailingly kind, unassuming, and self-effacing, Don generally steered clear of college politics. He rarely spoke up at faculty meetings. The one exception concerned his pet peeve, the noise created each fall by motorized leaf blowers outside his classrooms. Don’s complaints about the noise disturbance turned into a kind of annual ritual, eagerly awaited at faculty meetings in the fall. 

Don’s command of the German language was masterful. In particular, he excelled in translation, transforming the often gnarly intricacies of German grammar into elegant and readable English. In 1967, Don published a book of translations of selected essays by German conservative social philosopher Oswald Spengler. After his retirement, Don embarked on a daunting project, translating German writer Albert Vigoleis Thelen’s colossal semi-autobiographical novel The Island of Second Sight (1953) into English. Hailed by Thomas Mann as “one of the greatest books of the 20th century,” Thelen’s sprawling, idiosyncratic narrative poses considerable challenges to the translator. Don’s translation was first published in 2010 by Galileo Press of Cambridge, UK. Three years later, The Overlook Press of New York City published an American edition. Don’s translation was praised for its literary quality. In a review, retired Amherst College Professor of English and American Studies and longtime colleague and friend, Allen Guttmann, noted that “[Don] White’s own English is so accomplished that an uninstructed reader would never guess that Thelen wrote the book in German.” Literary critics agreed, awarding Don’s translation the PEN Translation Prize of 2013. In its Judges’ Citation, the Prize Committee commented, “The novel, written in German in 1953 yet set on the Spanish island of Mallorca in the 1930s, presents a formidable challenge to the translator: Thelen’s writing is brilliantly witty, acerbic, self-aware, multilingual, and ever conscious of the spirit of Cervantes and other mighty antecedents haunting its pages. In his translation, White gives us all this and more. He demonstrates a superb flair for comic timing and a seemingly unbounded linguistic inventiveness that by turns leaves us agog with admiration and has us convulsed in laughter. This is a translator’s translation—one to demonstrate just how very agile, resourceful, and utterly delectable the best translators can be. White has done us an immeasurable service in bringing into English Thelen’s forgotten masterpiece, and in doing so with such consummate and delicious mastery.” The translated novel has thus far run into five editions.  

In addition to his love of literature, Don was a passionate amateur musician. Perhaps fittingly for a quiet man who never sought to draw attention to himself, Don’s instrument was the viola—the humblest of instruments that tends not to draw attention to itself but is content in supporting an overall musical mission. For many years, Don served as principal violist with the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and played in many local chamber music groups and other ensembles, ranging from impromptu string quartets to leading the viola section in the orchestra pit of the Commonwealth Opera Company in performances of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Keenly aware of the lowly status of the viola in musicians’ circles, Don exhibited a great sense of humor, being the first to appreciate a good viola joke, of which he knew many and which he enjoyed sharing. Don rarely sought the limelight, but in a display of his exquisite sense of humor, in 1992 he taught himself the double bass to be able to perform Patrick Süskind’s witty one-man play about a disgruntled orchestra musician, The Double Bass, at Porter House, the College’s German Theme House—to everyone’s delight.

It was through music that Don met his second wife, Drusilla Macy, in 2002 at a string quartet workshop in Connecticut. Don and Dru married in 2004 and spent eighteen happy years in marriage, based in Barre, Vermont. At their wedding in Stowe, Vermont, Don and Dru played together, he the viola, she the violin. They performed a piece by Mozart, which was perfectly reflected by the mountains and valleys in the distance. Together, they traveled extensively–including making literary pilgrimages to Mallorca, to visit the sites of Thelen’s novel. They also played together in various chamber music ensembles with friends, as well as being members of the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra and the Vermont Philharmonic.

During the final years of his life, Don battled several serious illnesses, including throat cancer. Don was beloved by everyone who knew him, as a teacher, a scholar, a musician, a colleague, or a friend. He will be fondly remembered for the generosity of his spirit and for his unceasing kindness.

I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence and entered into the records of the college and that a copy be sent to Professor White’s family.

Respectfully submitted,

Ute Brandes, Chair   
Heidi Gilpin   
Allen Guttmann   
Christian Rogowski

RICHARD WILBUR (1921 - 2017)

The poet Richard Wilbur was born on March 1, 1921, in New York City.  He was raised in North Caldwell, New Jersey, not half an hour from Manhattan, in an unimposing stone house his parents rented on a somewhat eccentric estate created and resided on by a retired British businessman.  Dick remembered the place fondly as both a gentleman’s farm and a modest rural retreat, complete with tennis court, swimming pool, and lawn bowling pitch, as well as an obligatory complement of chickens.

But Dick was not to the manor born: his father, raised in Omaha, made his living as a commercial artist in New York, and his mother, the daughter of the city editor of the Baltimore Sun, was a homemaker.  Dick and his younger brother Lawrie, who followed him to Amherst College and then into the military during World War II, made inventive use of the estate, in effect a small colony of supremely anglophilic British expat families.  Dick’s sustained and sustaining love of the natural world began there, a love that resulted in a large number of masterful poems, poems at once formally elegant, intellectually alert, and when called for, moving.  Take “Hamlen Brook,” set on the ninety-acre property in Cummington, Massachusetts that Dick and his wife Charlee lived on from the early 1970s, a property that had its own tennis court and pool, as well as deep woods and a stream.  Cats replaced the New Jersey chickens.

 Hamlen Brook

           At the alder-darkened brink   
     Where the stream slows to a lucid jet   
I lean to the water, dinting the top with sweat,   
          And see, before I can drink,

           A startled inchling trout   
     Of spotted near-transparency,   
Trawling a shadow solider than he.   
     He swerves now, darting out

           To where, in a flicked slew   
     Of sparks and glittering silt, he weaves   
Through stream-bed rocks, disturbing foundered leaves,   
          And butts then out of view

             Beneath a sliding glass   
     Crazed by the skimming of a brace   
Of burnished dragon-flies across its face,   
          In which deep cloudlets pass

           And a white precipice   
     Of mirrored birch-trees plunges down   
Toward where the azures of the zenith drown.   
          How shall I drink all this?

           Joy’s trick is to supply   
     Dry lips with what can cool and slake,   
Leaving them dumbstruck also with an ache   
          Nothing can satisfy.   

After graduation from Montclair High School, where he wrote and cartooned for the school paper, Dick matriculated at Amherst College, happening to arrive on September 21, 1938, the very day of a devastating hurricane.  At Amherst he was a particularly loyal Chi Psi, at the time a fraternity filled with football players; perhaps unsurprisingly, he was also something of a prankster.  But he was an accomplished English major.  Much of his energy went into the Amherst Student, of which he became editor in his senior year.  A declared isolationist until Pearl Harbor, he wrote an editorial, published on December 8, 1941, titled “Now That We Are in It.”  That editorial has on occasion been reprinted as an exemplary response to the conflict that largely defined the lives of Dick’s generation.  As an enlisted man in the Army Signal Corps, he served in major combat in Italy, notably at Monte Cassino, one of the bloodiest battles of the war, and then in France, Germany, and Austria.  He often recalled that he spent what seemed like endless hours of alternating shellfire and calm hunkered down in foreign foxholes reading poetry.   In a series of wartime letters to his teachers at Amherst, he recounted, often wittily, what he was going through.  Those teachers, principally Theodore Baird and Armour Craig, encouraged Dick’s poetry and prose.  He remembered them with great fondness for the rest of his long life.

Shortly after graduation in June 1942, Dick married Charlotte Hayes Ward, known to all as Charlee, a warm, high-spirited student at Smith.  A few days after the wedding Dick received his draft notice; he promptly enlisted in the Army Signal Corps, had stateside Basic and Signal Corps training for many months, and sailed for North Africa in November 1943, a few weeks after the birth of Ellen Wilbur, the first of their four children.  The third, Nathan, in due course, graduated from Amherst.  Charlee’s obituary in the Boston Globe remembers their marriage as, among literary couples, all but uniquely successful.

On the GI bill, Dick began graduate work at Harvard in 1947, intending to earn a doctorate in English.  He was happily sidetracked by being appointed a Junior Fellow in his second year, giving him the freedom from course work that allowed him to write the poems that resulted in his widely noticed first two books, The Beautiful Changes, 1947, and Ceremony, 1950.  Having received an M.A., he joined the Harvard English faculty, then taught at Wellesley for two years, moving on to Wesleyan, where he stayed for two decades, finally retiring, in 1986, after seven years as the writer in residence at Smith.  A year later, he was named Poet Laureate of the United States.  He concluded his academic career by returning to the Amherst College classroom in 2008, at age 87, as the Simpson Lecturer, a post held after World War II by his friend and mentor Robert Frost.  Dick retired from Amherst just four years ago; numerous Amherst students, including those who drove him from and back to Cummington, recall his warmth and generosity no less than his intellectual rigor.  One of them, a Geology major not in one of his courses, asked Dick why he wrote poems.  “To be of use” was the straightforward answer.

Richard Wilbur will be remembered as one of the major English language poets of his generation.  By common consent, he was the unrivaled master of lyric verse in his time.  He was scarcely less accomplished in meditative blank verse poems, modeled to a degree on the work of the poet he most admired, and for many years taught, John Milton.  He also published a number of critical essays, most strikingly on the poems and poetics of Edgar Allen Poe, the subject of the dissertation that gave way to the eight further books of poems he published, at regular intervals, after 1950.  In 1956 his third book, Things of this World, won Dick both the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award.  From the perspective of 2018, it stands as one of the signal achievements in verse in the last three-quarters of a century.  Other prizes followed as the subsequent volumes were published, most notably a rare second Pulitzer, awarded in 1987 for New and Collected Poems.  Dick had another writerly career as the foremost translator of classic French drama; his many versions of Molière have been performed steadily for the last sixty-some years, and Dick’s translations of poetry in half a dozen languages only enhanced his reputation.  In translations as well as original verse he was a remarkably skilled rhymer.  Dick’s biographers, Mary and Robert Bagg (Amherst ’57) contend that one has to look as far back as Alexander Pope (1688-1744) to find his like.

Given his accomplishment, which included writing the brilliant lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s opera Candide, honors and offices followed.  In addition to the prizes noted above, he was awarded a Bollingen Prize, a Prix de Rome, a Ford Foundation fellowship, and, in his last years, the “Tell It Slant” award from the Emily Dickinson Museum.  He was justifiably proud of his service as president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  And honorary degrees came his way, from, among others, Amherst, Wesleyan, and Yale.

In 1969 Dick and Charlee—to whom he addressed a handful of the finest love poems we have—bought a property in Cummington, Massachusetts.  They had spent significant time, on fellowships, in Rome and New Mexico, and they continued to spend winter months in Key West, but for Dick, Cummington was something of a return to the semi-rural idyll of his childhood.  He walked in his woods, raised vegetables in his garden, acquired a new set of Hilltown friends, played doubles tennis on his challenging court, and he wrote poems, his final book, Anterooms, appearing 2010.  In his 1998 three-part poem, “This Pleasing Anxious Being”—the title quotes Thomas Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard”—he recreated three ordinary moments in his long life, moments he made more than ordinary in conversational blank verse.  The concluding section evokes a Christmas trip to Baltimore when the poet was seven. 

Wild, lashing snow, which thumps against the windshield   
Like earth tossed down upon a coffin-lid,   
Half clogs the wipers, and our Buick yaws   
On the black roads of 1928.   
Father is driving; Mother, leaning out,   
Tracks with her flashlight beam the pavement’s edge,   
And we must weather hours more of storm   
To be in Baltimore for Christmastime.   
Of the two children in the back seat, safe   
Beneath a lap-robe, soothed by jingling chains   
And by their parents’ pluck and gaiety,   
One is asleep.  The other’s half-closed eyes   
Make out at times the dark hood of the car   
Ploughing the eddied flakes, and might foresee   
The steady chugging of a landing craft   
Through morning mist to the bombarded shore,   
Or a deft prow that dances through the rocks   
In the white water of the Allagash,   
Or, in good time, the bedstead at whose foot   
The world will swim and flicker and be gone.

Richard Wilbur died in October 2017.  It was a long and fulfilling life.

President Martin, I move that this memorial minute be adopted by the faculty in a rising vote of silence, that it be entered in the permanent record of the faculty, and that a copy be sent to Richard Wilbur’s family.

Respectfully submitted by Daniel Hall, William Pritchard, and David Sofield (chair)