Robin Cracknell '54

Robin Cracknell, a roommate of mine all four years at Amherst and perhaps the Class of 1954’s only native of England, died on March 17, 2007.  Although in otherwise excellent health, he died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism in John Dempsey Hospital near his home in Simsbury, CT.

He is survived by his second wife, Sarah; two children, Andrew and Liesl, from his first marriage; four stepchildren; and eight grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

Robin was born in Westcliff-on-Sea, England.  At the outbreak of The Battle of Britain in 1939, he and his brother, John, came to the United States.  They were part of a convoy of English children who came to “The Home for Little Wanderers” in Boston.  They were cared for during and after the war by a childless couple in Dedham, MA.

Robin’s brother, John, later attended Williams briefly before returning to England.

A graduate of Noble and Greenough School, Robin was a very good athlete, lettering at Amherst in soccer and golf.  He earned Class numerals on the freshman baseball team.

Robin was also a ping pong player; he and I put many hours of wear on the Theta Delta table.  Another fraternity “sport” was “Indian Ball,” a softball game with two man teams, played on the front lawn.  There were few rules but many negotiations about whether a hit was a single, double or homer.

Robin was interested in many things and good at most everything he tried.  Outgoing, he was a people person and had a wonderful sense of humor.  He was a classy guy, always a gentleman.  He had a memorable study habit.  When preparing for a test the next morning, he would soon tire of the chore and go to bed with the comment, “I’ll get up early.”  I honestly don’t recall that he actually ever did.

Right after graduation, we had one “final” fling at Harry Allen’s house in Rehoboth Beach, DE.  There was fishing and a number of “toasts.”  Russ Freeman, Jim Nixon, Jim Clyne, Jack Hargreaves and Pierce Gardner ’57 were also there.

Soon after graduation, Robin became an American citizen.  He served in the army and did a tour in Germany.  While in service, Robin and Jack Hargreaves met twice in Europe—once in Garmisch, Germany, and another time at Robin’s home in England.

After service, Robin joined United Carr Fastener in Boston.  In 1981, he took a position with Career Management of New England, a consulting company which provides executive assessment and transition services to the corporate community in Greater Hartford.  Robin became certified in a number of assessment “instruments” and graduated from The Center For Creative Leadership.

According to Sarah, the owner of Career Management of New England and, eventually, Robin’s wife, Robin developed a reputation as a trusted mentor and coach with a gentle sense of humor.  “He made an enormous difference in the lives of so many,” she said.

Robin had a passion for the outdoors, particularly hiking, with Mount Greylock near Williamstown one of his favorite outings.  He also enjoyed hiking Mount Washington and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  On one occasion, he and his son spent five days backpacking in the Grand Canyon.

After a twenty year hiatus, Robin returned to the golf course and, in 1995, achieved every golfer’s dream—a hole in one.  He and Sarah also enjoyed the theatre.  They were season ticket holders at the Hartford Stage Company.  They also took in many theatre productions in Williamstown, New Haven and New York.  Robin’s other strong interests were literature, film, jazz and, of course, the Boston Red Sox.

During the past decade, Robin and Sarah toured much of Europe.  Their last trip together was their maiden voyage on a cruise—fourteen days in the Mediterranean.  “I will always cherish the memory,” Sarah said.

—Ron Copsey ’54