Class of 1951 In Memorials
MEMORIAL: ROBERT J. RUNSER '51 MBA (1929 - 2010)
Robert James Runser, 81, of Stony Point, Virginia, passed away on Saturday, July 17, 2010. He was the loving husband of the late Vera Runser and beloved father of the late Jeffrey Runser and his daughter who survives him, Robin Runser. He is also survived by his “grand-dog” Sierra, who played a special role in his life.
Bob was born in Berkley, California on May 12, 1929. He was a prominent financial executive. As Vice President Comptroller of the Signal Companies, in the early 1980s he oversaw the largest corporate merger in U.S. history at the time. In retirement, he served on a board charged with making recommendations to Congress on reorganizing the nation’s failed savings and loan system. He was a 1951 grauate of Amherst College and was awarded an MBA from the the University of California. Berkley. He was a eminent CPA, like his father before him.
He was active in community service in California as the Chairman of both the Los Angeles and San Diego chapters of the March of Dimes. Upon retirement, Bob and Vera moved to their lovely farm in Albemarle County. They traveled extensively and both enjoyed their active participation in Virginia politics. Bob was an avid golfer and fisherman.
His daughter Robin expresses heart-felt thanks to the outstanding, caring and compassionate staff at Martha Jefferson House in Charlottesville. Both she and Bob considered them part of the family. A funeral service for Bob will be conducted in the chapel of Teague Funeral Service on Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 10:00am. Friends and family will gather at the chapel one hour prior to the service. Interment will immediately follow in Monticello Memory Gardens.
MEMORIAL: THOMAS W. GIBBS III '51 STB (1930-2010)
ST. THOMAS — The Very Rev. Thomas W. Gibbs III, dean of the All Saints Cathedral Episcopal School, died Sunday in his home.
Dean Gibbs, 80, had delivered his final two sermons at All Saints Cathedral Church that morning, reflecting on the lesson of Mary and Martha in the Gospel of Luke.
“Dean Gibbs will be missed, because he’s been a familiar face for all of us,” All Saints Senior Warden Reubina Gomez said. “He’s seen our children and grandchildren go through life. He went suddenly, and he will be missed.”
Gomez, who said she has known Gibbs for more than 50 years, called him “a great advocate for punctuality, education and discipline.”
Gibbs came to the Virgin Islands and All Saints in 1958 from Evanston, Il., where he was bapitzed and confirmed as an Episcopalian at St Andrews Church, and became the rector of All Saints. Although officially retired, he served as acting rector for the church and dean for All Saints after Dean Ashton Brooks left two years ago, until his sudden death.
Throughout his time here, Dean Gibbs held leadership positions in the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands. Tom was a graduate of Evanston High School in Illinois where he was a top student and track star. He received a BA degree from Amherst College In 1951, where he was the first black to join the social fraternity Phi Alpha Psi. He lettered in track, was a member of the student council and elected to the Sphinx honorary society. He was initiated to the scholastic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa as a senior. He served in the US Army during the Korean Conflict where he was assigned to army intelligence.
After discharge, he enrolled in the Episcopal Seminary in Cambridge, MA where he earned STB degree. His initial calling was with the national church, before going to the Virgin Islands. He became the legendary headmaster of the Episcopal Prep School there. Numerous graduates went on to Ivy League universities (including the governor) and also to his alma mater.
The Phi Psi Affair: “Unfraternal Conduct”
The obituary for Thomas Gibbs ’51 (In Memory, Fall 2010) contains only a brief allusion to an important event in Amherst history, an event in which Gibbs played the central role. In the spring of 1948 the undergraduate members of Phi Kappa Psi, the Amherst chapter of a national fraternity, issued an invitation to Tom Gibbs, a black freshman, to join the fraternity. Although Phi Kappa Psi was not one of the five Amherst fraternities that at that time still had exclusionary rules, the leaders of the national organization did not react favorably when they learned of the Amherst chapter’s intentions. After some not-so-cordial negotiations during the following summer and fall, the Amherst students notified the national organization of Phi Kappa Psi that they were determined to proceed with Gibbs’ initiation. At that point the national organization suspended the Amherst chapter, which reorganized as Phi Alpha Psi, a local fraternity. Three weeks later Gibbs, together with the other sophomore pledges, was formally initiated into Phi Alpha Psi.
Although it now seems hard to believe that an invitation to a black student to join an Amherst fraternity could cause such a furor, the “Phi Psi Affair” was national news. In The New York Times alone that fall there appeared at least six news items on the topic and an editorial, which read in part: “The Amherst College football team beat Williams on Saturday by a score of 13 to 7, but it may be that another sort of victory, won on the Amherst campus on Friday, will be longer remembered. Until Friday, Amherst had a chapter of the national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. On Friday that chapter was suspended by the national executive committee for ‘unfraternal conduct.’... In this episode we see the real meaning of a liberal education. An Amherst degree has always been respected. It will be more respected now.”
Robert H. Romer ’52
BOWERS, Fredson Thayer Jr. 82, of Newton Highlands, died at his home February 18, 2010. He was the beloved husband of Barbara (DeVito) Bowers for 54 years. Devoted father of Mary Ellen Bowers of Cambridge, Joyce LeBlanc and her husband Robert of Green Oaks, IL, Julie Quattrucci and her husband Louis of Scituate, Pamela Ward and her husband Justin of Lovell, ME, Carolyn Leskanic and her husband Mark of Needham and Fredson T. BowersIII of Hong Kong.
BornApril 7, 1927, Bowers attended Newton High and theFessendenSchool. He served in the US Navy from 1945 to 1946. Fred was a 1951 graduate ofAmherstCollegewhich he attended as a veteran. He majored in political science, was on the ski team and joined the Kappa Theta fraternity. Fredson contracted polio from which he made a courageous recovery. He became an underwriter for the Cigna Insurance, until his retirement.
Fred was the loving grandfather to Bobby, Jason, Emma, Lou, Jack, Conrad, Austin, Zoe, Matthew, Lauren and Hailey, and the brother of the late Joan (Bowers) Stout, Peter and Stephen Bowers.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 amon Monday at Mary Immaculate of LourdesChurch, 270 Elliot Street, NewtonUpper Falls. Burial St. Mary's Cemetery in Needham. Instead of flowers, donations may be made to St. Francis House, 39 Boylston Street, Boston, MA02116or www.stfrancishouse.org.
Memorial: Geoffrey Gordon Jackson ’51, MS (1929-2009)
JACKSON, Geoffrey Gordon Of Norwell, MA andCotuit,MA formerly ofChevy Chase,MD andWashington,DC diedDec. 23, 2009 at the age of 80. He leaves behind his loving wife Patricia Jackson and two sons: Joshua Banfield Jackson and Lincoln Desmond Jackson.
Geoff attended The Putney School, Kiski Prep and graduated fromAmherstCollegeclass of 1951. His father also attended Amherst, before becoming an army officer in WW I. Geoff enlisted in the Coast Guard as a medical corpsman during the Korean War. He then received his Masters fromColumbiaUniversity. He had a long career in hospital administration and was later involved with the supervision and refinement of medical coding for Cigna.
He was a devoted father and grandfather. He was an avid reader; he loved to ski, play hockey and was a devotee of opera. Throughout his life he played a wide variety of music on the piano ranging from classical to jazz to pop. Although Geoff raced and cruised on larger yachts throughout his life, his true love was for his Cotuit Skiff #60, a 14' 6" class of wooden boat raced only in Cotuit. His sons continue to maintain and race the boat Geoff built in 1954. In his later years he took great pleasure watching his grandchildren carry on this racing heritage.
He grew up inChevy Chase,MDandWashington,DC. Geoff's family originally hailed from Denver and Colorado Springs, CO where the family history is preserved at the Pioneer Museum (the original family homestead), as well as at Colorado College, the Denver Public Library and Brandeis University.
Relatives and friends are invited to join the family at a Memorial Service, 11 a.m.Sat., Jan. 2, 2010at CotuitFederatedChurch, 40 School Street, Cotuit, MA02635with a reception following at the CotuitCenterfor the Arts. Donations in his memory may be made to the ACM Yacht Club, Cotuit, MA, The Cotuit Center for the Arts Cotuit, MA or American Heart Assn. 20 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701. For an online guestbook, please visit http://www.mcnamara-sparrell.com/