Deceased August 1, 2007
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When I learned Tom had died on August 1, 2007, in New York Hospital after a short illness, a flood of memories came over me—mostly of his gift for hilarious capers. I recalled our junior year in the Double Quartet when there was an opening for a second tenor. The tryouts were held in the Octagon, and candidates came in separately to join the remaining seven of us in singing “Hello, Hello.” The third candidate shuffled in wearing an odd hat and slovenly dress. He sang well enough but then disappeared in a bizarre lurch and without a word. Our judgment was that he was just too weird for us—but who was he? What was he doing there?
“He” turned out to be Marcia Steadman, put up to the scam by Tom, and dressed up clownishly by Pete Soderbergh, who after all was an expert clown! Who would have ever guessed Steadman would become an outstanding and distinguished OB-GYN physician in New York City. He was born in Passaic, NJ, in 1926 and came to Amherst from Deerfield Academy and the US Navy. His life centered around GI Village; his entry in our 1950 Olio lists only “Glee Club 1, Double Quartet 3, 4.” Some will recall that he had great difficulty with Professor Stiffler’s sophomore physics course, so much that he had to repeat it several times in summer school. His determination to be pre-med and become a doctor was so intense that he worked on at Amherst and earned an MA in biology in 1953.
He then went to Cornell Medical Center and New York Hospital where he received his MD in 1957. That was to be his professional home for fifty years. At his death, the faculty and the chief of the OB-GYN department wrote the New York Times to “express their deep sorrow on the death of their esteemed colleague, Dr. E. Thomas Steadman. Dr. Steadman, who did his residency training at this hospital, was influential in developing the first nurse-midwifery program in the US, as well as the first teenage pregnancy clinic in New York City. A dedicated clinician and teacher for more than forty years, Dr. Steadman was an important role model for medical students and house officers. His presence will be sorely missed.”
In our fifty-year book in 2000 Tom wrote, “. . . I have achieved nothing of significant merit . . .” His sense of humor was exceeded only by his modesty! He neglected to mention—as his listing in Who’s Who in America notes—that among other honors, he was president of the New York Medical-Surgical Society in 1984-85 and president of the New York Obstetrical Society in 1978-79. He did admit in 2000, however, that his “satisfying and rewarding life would not be possible without the aid and assistance of my good wife, Marcia, (of fifty-nine years) and five children (Broeck, Tracy, Dirk, Webb and Coe).”
Dave Means has written me that his family’s summer has been greatly saddened by the news of Tom Steadman’s death, for his three daughters all went to Tom and they truly loved him. He took care of them until his retirement in December 2006. Dave says he became one of the foremost OB-GYN doctors in Manhattan and was once described as the “doctor to the rich and famous.” Dave’s daughters used to joke about which category they were in, but they cried at the news of his death. Tom or others in his practice delivered six of Dave and Nancy’s grandchildren.
Dave and Tom and I first met sixty years ago as Psi U. pledges when we sang the old songs in a quartet that included Whit Spaulding. We will remember Tom for his rich, bass singing voice, his humor, his forty years of wise counsel to women of all socio-economic backgrounds, and for one more extraordinary accomplishment. With skill and devotion, he delivered 5,000 lives into this world.
John Esty ’50, with Dave Means ’50