Deceased November 28, 2013

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In Memory

Peter Winn '48, handsome devil, funny, stoical, curious contrarian, who died Thanksgiving Day 2013, might be remembered best at Amherst for his avid participation as an actor in many Masquers Peter Winn '48.jpg productions. He was the leading man in "Happy As Larry," which he reprised in an NBC series after graduation.

Pete was also the young man who seemed always to have an awful lot of hot fudge sauce and salted peanuts on his outsized sundaes, having sweet-talked the cooks in Valentine Hall. Born in 1926 to Presbyterian missionaries in Japan, he supplemented his scholarship by working the college switchboard nights and weekends. Anyone who was involved with him in accepting the first person of color into Phi Kappa Psi (leading to the fraternity's expulsion from the parent organization and the change of name to Phi Alpha Psi) would remember him for the power of his belief that all are created equal.

Or he might be remembered as the lucky guy who married Sylvia Canfield, the dark haired, blue-eyed daughter of Curt Canfield, founding professor of the drama department. They were married for 61 years, raising two children, Brad Winn, a conservation biologist, and Tracy Winn, a fiction writer.

Peter went on to use his actor's experience and formidable powers of persuasion, first as a radio announcer, then in the Amherst College Office of Public Relations. In 1955, the nascent Public Television station in Boston, WGBH, snagged him to be their director of PR. Dedicated student of world affairs and enthusiastic golfer, he went on to a career at Kenyon & Eckhardt Advertising Inc., blending his creative, word-smithing and administrative talents as vice president of marketing. In television and print media, he found ingenious ways to promote the savings bank industry, winning several awards for his ads, including two CLIOs before retiring in 1987.

Peter was preceded by a proud Amherst graduate in each of the three generations before him: his great-grandfather, John H. Winn 1834; his grandfather, Thomas Clay Winn, 1873; and his father-in-law, F. Curtis Canfield, Class of 1925. He said his education at Amherst taught him, among many other things, to know a good man when he met one. His memories of his days there remained a strong force throughout his life.

Tracy Winn

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Peter Winn 48.png It's Sunday afternoon in Amherst in late winter. The snow-covered campus sparkles in blinding low sunlight. The strains of "Lili Marlene" echo around the hills irreverently after a stanza and reprise of "Onward Christian Soldiers." Johnny Pruicksma is at the console of the Mead Tower Carillon, as he is every Sunday. Tuffy McGoun is in the back shop at Kirby Theater, hammering on a flat with Mike Kapinas. Bruce Boenau is slipping into a starched white jacket at Valentine Hall, getting ready for the 5:15 rush of chow hounds. Dean Bacon is loping home across the Amherst Common to Dana Place (He's late for a tea with l0 or 12 Smith and Amherst undergraduates). Mrs. Eddy is just reaching the Snack Bar for her evening shift of grilled cheeses, hot fudge sundaes, and strawberry frappes. Bruce Skipton is roaming the campus, picking up last minute copy for the next issue of "The Student." The lads at Psi U are meeting to make last-minute plans to raid and wire the sleeping rooms at Beta that night. Converse Librarian "Mighty Mouse" Porter Dickinson has just lined up 64 copies of Professor Packards's "Battle of Jutland" (enough volumes to cover those taking a test next day). The entire Phi Psi House is returning from an afternoon at the flicks, led en masse by Bruce Daniels, who never misses a Bugs Bunny featurette.

Everything that happened then is happening still-if only in memory. And the speed in which the Class of ’48 has moved from the back to the front of the Biographical Record only serves to underscore the quick-as-a-flash timeline. '

Peter Winn 48-2.png My bio capsule begins at a Florida radio station which I joined as a staff announcer in the fall of '48. Came back to Amherst as Assistant Director of Public Relations in 1952, joined WGBH-TV in Boston, two months before it went on the air in 1955. Worked as P.R. head of the Savings Banks of Massachusetts, 1960-63, then began a 24-year career at Kenyon & Eckhardt Advertising in Boston as account supervisor and senior vice president on New England Merchants National Bank (a.k.a. Bank of New England, r.i.p.).

Serious question: Why doesn't Amherst introduce courses in the art of human survival? Since nearly half a lifetime is spent on combatting the breakdown of body parts, it would be useful to know what we need to (early on) about the prostate, liver and kidney malfunctions . . . you name it. If it's any solace, I subscribe to Dean Scott Porter's often repeated remark-the truth of which is reconfirmed with each passing class-"Too soon old. Too late schmartz."