Deceased December 29, 2016
Amherst has lost another member of the class of ’49. Woody Kingman passed away on Dec. 29, 2016, of complications from pneumonia following a stroke. He was 91. Family members from all over the country came to say goodbye, the homily was delivered by Bishop William E. Swing, the pastor who performed his marriage ceremony in September 1996 when Woody was 71 and getting married for the first, and last, time and his nephew and brother-in-law had them laughing in the aisle with family stories. As a capper to his life of mountain climbing, banking and in the political sphere, Woody enjoyed a happy life for the last 20 years, playing golf, skiing and walking his beloved golden retrievers every afternoon at 4 p.m. St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere was overflowing with more than 200 people from near and far. Woody rarely missed an Amherst reunion and counted those years as some of his happiest.
Known by everyone as Woody, he was 91 and died from complications of a stroke suffered four years earlier. He grew up in Wayzata, a western suburb of Minneapolis, and graduated from Blake School in 1943 as head boy. Following three years of army service, he followed in the footstep of others in his family to attend Amherst. For those who knew him, Woody was a warm, gentle man who like many in our class was in a hurry to make up for time spent in the army. He took time to be the captain of the ski team, vice chairman of the Student and president of Psi U. He graduated with honors and many, many friends. Years later, he became an alumni trustee.
Following Amherst, Woody attended Harvard Business School from which he graduated in 1951 and then on to a life centered around banking and investments, politics and public service and dangling off of ropes in dangerous places, mountain climbing.
His banking experiences started with Citibank in New York. He became involved in New York City politics and was appointed to the New York City Council by then Mayor John Lindsay. He lost a close re-election bid to Ed Koch. President Nixon appointed him the first president of the Government National Mortgage Association which under his leadership rapidly grew into one of the country’s most important sources of mortgage financing. He spent 10 years in San Francisco as head of the trust department at the Crocker Bank and then back to Washington to serve as associate director of the U.S. Information Agency under Presidents Reagan and Bush. He returned to San Francisco in the investment business.
Mountain climbing was a passion. He climbed in the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, Alaska, Nepal, Tibet, the Alps and Antarctica. Many were major climbs.
Woody was quick to point out that the best part of his life started when as a 71-year-old bachelor he married Claire McAuliffe, a San Franciscan originally from Marblehead, Mass. His friends agreed. They lived in Belvedere with a beautiful view of San Francisco Bay and enjoyed a richly deserved good life in Northern California.
Cousin Joe Kingman ’49