Deceased February 3, 2019
John Amsterdam died on the weekend of Feb. 3 at his home in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
My first contact with John was in the summer of 1964, at a welcome-to-Amherst event at a prestigious and restrictive Philadelphia private club. Walking in, I spotted him standing alone at the back of the room radiating a “when can I sneak out of here?” aura. Sensing a kindred spirit, I approached and asked, “What’s a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?” He frowned, then broke out in a grin saying, “I stumbled in by accident, probably just like you!” A lifelong bond was launched.
John projected seriousness in almost all the things that he did. With extremely accomplished parents, Mort and Fay, and three highly competitive younger siblings, Joan, Jane and Jim, he may have had to. At Amherst we were roommates our junior and senior years and teammates in football. We were equally skeptical about fraternity life, and we had each other’s backs. On the night in April 1968 when Dr. King was killed, John was the only person able to find me on the dorm balcony and sit with me while I processed, seethed and calmed.
After graduation John distinguished himself at the University of Pennsylvania’s dental and Wharton schools and found particular success in healthcare management. He married his middle school sweetheart, Susan Goldman, in a spectacular wedding, and they had two wonderful kids, Alexis and Daniel. Years later John would marry Alice Vasselli and have a third wonderful child, Julia, now a junior at Wesleyan.
Separately settled in California and Pennsylvania, John and I maintained regular contact, including last spring’s wonderful 50th reunion.
Like many of you I will miss John deeply—his wry humor, rocklike dependability, sensitivity and above all his extraordinary character.
Bill Hastie ’68