Deceased July 28, 2013

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50th Reunion Book Entry


In Memory

I remember Rick Whyte at Amherst as a uniformly warm, friendly, outgoing person, with an infectious grin and great enthusiasm for whatever he was doing. Rick’s life after Amherst was clearly marked by the same characteristics.

Rick devoted his professional and personal life to his high school alma mater, the Webb School in Claremont, Calif., where he worked from 1962 to his retirement in 2002, teaching, among other things, Latin, English and American history; coaching numerous sports; and holding many administrative posts. Upon his death in July, the school’s website was suffused with a truly remarkable outpouring of respect, affection and admiration for him. Former colleagues and students wrote many accolades to his academic skills, his ethic of selfless service, his joie de vivre, his love of sports, his friendly approachability, his loyalty to his legion of friends. He was called “faculty legend, alumnus and friend.”

One former student said that Rick “exemplified everything Webb stood for; the best way I can put it is, Rick Whyte WAS Webb.” Another, a member of the first class of women admitted to Webb, said that Rick worked hard to make the transition to coeducation as comfortable as possible. “When winter sports season came along and there was only one sport for women (which I could not play for the life of me), he taught me the game of basketball and let me be the manager for his boys team.”

As a survivor of English 1, Rick would have been especially proud of what one former student wrote of his freshman English class: “What I learned in that class formed the foundation of my subsequent educational career, and in many respects was superior to my university English classes.”

Earl Dudley ’61

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50th Reunion

Frederick E. Whyte 61.png I received a fellowship from Amherst to be used at Claremont Graduate School to earn a master's in preparation for secondary school teaching. I moved into our family home, which my father had rented while he lived in Los Angeles and worked as a judge in the Los Angeles Country Superior Court. We had not had our telephone connected. Our neighbor's son came over on the first Saturday morning to tell me that Dr. Thompson Webb, the founding headmaster of the Webb School of California, wanted me to call him on Monday. As I had partied on Friday night, I was not sure that Dr. Webb had actually called, but my neighbor's son assured me he had.

Dr. Webb offered me a job teaching three sections of first year Latin, required of all students before taking a modern language. I had taken only one semester of Latin at Amherst, having met Amherst's foreign language graduation requirement from my College Board Achievement Test score in Latin. I was the last faculty member hired by Dr. Webb, I lived at home for three years and then moved on the Webb campus.

I served as Assistant College Counselor for two years and became College Counselor in 1965. Fred Hooper, who replaced Dr. Webb as Headmaster, asked me to become Dean of Students. At that time I was teaching American History rather than Latin. After one year I informed Mr. Hooper that I would either teach American History or continue as Dean of students. Unfortunately, he kept me as Dean of Students. Like almost all high schools, Webb had serious drug problems, which most of the faculty did not realize.

In 1974-1975 I took my sabbatical and attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and earned my Med in supervision. I chose William and Mary because the program was not primarily concerned with meeting the requirements for state certification. Another advantage was all the special events for Bicentennial and the fact that as a resident of the features of Colonial Williamsburg were free. I returned to Webb as Registrar, which became Academic Dean. In 1983, I took my second sabbatical and took the Amherst College trip to Switzerland. Mrs. Mary Commager, Henry Steele Commager’s widow, was a very active member of this tour.

My coaching at Webb included all levels of basketball including varsity, J.V., and varsity baseball, assistant coach varsity softball, scout, and play-caller for the varsity football team, and originator and director of the Webb School Invitational Basketball Tournament and the Vivian Webb Invitational Girls Basketball Tournament. Since my retirement in 2002, I have still been involved as scorekeeper.

Over my years at Webb I was very active in the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation process. I served as team member for seven schools and team Chairman for eight schools. My hobbies included philately (I am presently chapter representative of the American First Day Cover Society) and bridge (member of two clubs and coordinator of two weekly senior bridge sessions). I also collect autographs of sports personalities and read mystery and romance novels.

I retired from Webb in 2002 and moved to my present apartment complex. I am a volunteer at both Claremont Senior Centers and run the monthly day trips, and a member of the Claremont Committee on Aging. I am chairman of the Claremont Rotary Club Youth Service Committee. Finally, I am working on a biography of my grandfather, Frederick E. Whyte, for whom I was named. Among his many accomplishments, he was one of the five businessmen who started the Los Angeles County Fiar and the founding president of the Pomona Rotary Club.