From The Olio

32 Hillside Avenue, Darian, Connecticut
Prepared at Darien High School
Phi Alpha Psi, Secretary,
Literary Magazine, Co-Chairman,
STUDENT, Review Editor
Harry Richmond Hunter Jr Prize, John Franklin Genung Prize
Deceased April 21, 2019

View alumni profile (log in required)
Read article

In Memory

Richard Todd died on April 21, 2019, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass., after a fall and complications from recurring cancer, which had only just been discovered. He died peacefully with his family by his side.

Born in 1940 in Newburgh, N.Y., Dick lived on his grandfather’s farm and later settled in Connecticut, where he attended Darien High School. He entered Amherst in the fall of 1958, the first in his family to go to college.

At Amherst, Dick majored in English, was review editor of the Amherst Student, belonged to Phi Psi and wrote his thesis on Emily Dickinson with Ben DeMott as his advisor. He met Susan Bagg (Smith ’63) in the Octagon following a poetry reading by her brother, Robert Bagg ’57.  

While he was enrolled in a creative writing program at Stanford, he and Susan eloped in 1964 in Palo Alto, Calif. In 1966, they returned to the East Coast, living first in Cambridge, Mass., then a farm in Westminster, Mass., and next Boston before moving finally to Ashfield, Mass., in 1981. He was an editor at Houghton Mifflin (later with his own imprint), editor at The Atlantic Monthly (eventually serving as executive editor) and editor-in-chief at New England Monthly in its last year. He edited many prominent writers, including Tracy Kidder, with whom he worked closely for 46 years. Todd began teaching in the 1980s and loved the English 11 course he taught at Amherst. Most recently he taught in the M.F.A. program at Goucher. He was the author of The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity (2008) and many magazine articles over the course of several decades. Todd’s distinctive voice in the 1962 class notes delighted readers across Amherst classes. He and Kidder co-wrote Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction (2013).

When his daughter Emily ’89 attended Amherst, he began a new era of friendships and mentoring, hosting her classmates for spirited Thanksgivings, Easters and other gatherings in Ashfield. He leaves his wife, Susan; daughters Emily, Maisie and Nell; and six grandchildren.

Emily B. Todd ’89