Clinton R. Scharff Jr. ’42
Clint Scharff, son of Clinton Robert and Elsie (Troillet) Clinton, was born in New York City on July 17, 1920.
At Amherst, Clint was a member of Theta Delta Chi and the relay team, of which he was captain his junior and senior years. Clint captained an Amherst relay team to third place in the Melrose games and first place in the Boston games. As lead runner in both races, this was really a personal achievement!
After Amherst, Clint worked briefly for Chevrolet in Michigan; served as the first president of Rochester Paper, Fabricators Division, 1959–73; and was president of Trim Parts Inc.’s sales department, 1975–89. Clint was active in the Detroit Country Club. His first wife, Barbara Moesta, died in 1971, and left him with three children: Deborah, Clinton III and Elizabeth. He then married Ellen McKean from the Smith ’42 group, and that marriage lasted until her death in 2011.
After Clint’s retirement from work in 1989, he moved with Ellen from Detroit to Truro on Cape Cod. He enjoyed the next 25-plus years fishing, playing golf and having a bit of beach time with children and seven grandchildren.
Perhaps missing accomplishment in life, he was nostalgic about the players on the Detroit Tigers when they won the pennant in 1934.
At 92 he moved to North Carolina to live with his daughter when he began to cope with Alzheimer’s. With his Alzheimer’s condition, he was physically healthy but mentally challenged for the last four-plus years of his life. He had four great-grandchildren.
Death followed Feb. 17, 2019. —Rick Ward ’42
Richard S. Ward ’42
My father, Richard Storer Ward, was born in Beirut, Lebanon, on Oct. 9, 1920. His father, Edwin St. John, class of 1900, was a pediatric surgeon and dean of the medical school at the American University in Beirut. When my father was 10, he was shipped to Massachusetts to continue his education and, like his older brothers
Paul ’33 and Philip ’35, attended and graduated from Deerfield Academy and Amherst.
At Amherst, my father found himself taking cover under his bed in South as the hurricane of 1938 struck. He and his classmates spent much of their first weeks helping with the cleanup. He went on to sing in the glee club, pitch for the baseball team and play in the midfield for the soccer team.
My father attended Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, entering into pediatrics. After his training as chief resident at Bellevue Hospital in 1948, he returned to the university to train as a child psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and, finally, teaching psychoanalyst.
After completing his training, he joined the faculty. In 1960, he was invited to join the faculty at Emory University to help grow the university’s department of psychiatry. The day after they were married, my mother and father moved to Atlanta. For the first 10 years, he shuttled between Atlanta and New York City, teaching students at both places, all the while helping to lay the foundation for what is now the Emory Psychoanalytic Institute.
Considered the “Father of Child Psychiatry at Emory,” my father retired from the university in 1986 and then from private practice when he turned 97 in 2017. He is survived by his wife, Adele, of 49 years; a stepson, Steven; a daughter, Charlotte; a son, Richard ’85; a grandson, Kyle; a granddaughter, Elena; and many loving nieces, nephews and extended family. —Richard Z. Ward ’85
John O. Todd Jr. ’50
Our friend John Todd passed away from pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 90 on Aug. 26 in La Jolla, Calif. He came to Amherst from Lake Forest Academy in Illinois.
If ever there was a loyal Lord Jeff and staunch member of Chi Psi, it was John. All his life he supported the College and faithfully encouraged friends to stay in contact and attend reunions. It started at Chi Psi when he walked into the house while a freshman and said he wanted to join. At Chi Psi he masterminded their successful approach to rushing. John was involved for four years with Touchstone, our campus magazine, as both literary editor and vice chairman. After a Wharton M.B.A., John served as a navy officer. This took him to the West Coast, where he decided to stay. His first employer was IBM’s data processing division in sales. Then John spent nine years with the consulting firm Cresap McCormick and Paget.
The capstone of his career was founding with his father the Todd Organization. This firm served more than 50 large corporations by developing non-qualified pension plans for top management funded with life insurance.
But John’s greatest sale was in 1958 when, after six months, he convinced his lovely wife, Ann, to marry him. After 44 years in La Canada Flintridge, Calif., they moved to a retirement community in La Jolla. Always involved, John joined many organizations, including spending 20 years with the Tournament of Roses Association.
John is survived by his wife, Ann; two sons, John III and William; and two grandsons, John IV and Andrew. —Woody Crowther ’50 and John Priesing ’50
Paul F. Coon ’51
Paul Coon passed away on Aug. 30. He came to Amherst from Deerfield Academy, joined Beta, roomed there with Don Cohan ’51, played soccer and frequently worked at Valentine. After two and a half years in the U.S. Army, he attended Connell University’s School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, N.Y., and graduated in 1956. His first marriage produced two children but ended in divorce. In 1975 he married Maureen, a number of years his junior, and his surviving widow.
In 1975 a Cornell classmate recruited Paul to be general manager of the Holiday Inn South in Erie, Pa. Maureen, whom Paul had met years earlier, was already working there as director of sales. Paul and Maureen were fortunate to be able to work together for 10 years.
In 1988 Paul left hotel management and entered academia to teach hotel management courses at Mercyhurst College in Erie. He retired in 1992.
During his career, Paul was active in “Hospitality Associates,” a group of 150 Cornell grads, and served as president of the Erie (Pa.) Chamber of Commerce, president of the Kingston (N.Y.) YMCA and vice president of Cornell Society of Hotelmen, Virginia chapter.
In 1994 Maureen, still working but for a different outfit, was transferred to Newport News, Va. Paul loved living in Virginia. A devoted golfer, he organized a group of golfers to play distant courses, including trips to Florida.
Paul had fond memories of his time at Amherst but, like many of us, was not pleased with several decisions it made in the ’70s. In our 35th year reunion book, Paul ended, “So, onward we shall go, and a toast (scotch and water with a twist) to the ‘Dear little old lady who lives on a hill.’” Paul had a good trip. —Everett E. Clark ’51, with input from Maureen Coon
Horace “Frenchy” Laprade ’51
Horace “Frenchy” Laprade passed away Sept. 6, 2016, at age 90, several years older than most of us were at that time, since he was a World War II vet.
He joined Beta and played soccer at Amherst for four years. He married his surviving wife, Teresa, in 1949. They lived in the “G.I. Village” constructed for vets, located down the hill from James and Stearns.
After Amherst he and Teresa settled in Springfield, Mass., where he learned the insurance trade at Liberty Mutual Life Insurance Co. and in 1958 completed his legal education at Western New England University. In 1960 he became regional sales manager for Liberty Mutual in Portland, Maine. As he had always hoped to do, in 1964 Frenchy brought his family back to Amherst, bought a home adjacent to Pratt Field and developed his career in insurance, real estate, law and investment counseling.
Teresa worked in the alumni office at the College until the mid ’80s. She and Frenchy had six children, all of whom grew up in Amherst. I am advised that Frenchy had his best years living and working in his cherished Amherst environment.
In 2004, Frenchy and Teresa moved to Hull, Mass., at the mouth of Boston Harbor, where Frenchy continued his legal, investment and real estate work until his passing.
Contributing to our 35th year reunion booklet, Frenchy stated, “I look back on my days spent at Amherst with fond memories of great friendships, dedicated teachers, a broad curriculum and an environment conducive to providing us with the tools to enable us in the words of Thoreau (to) “suck the marrow out of life.” —Everett E. Clark ’51
Alva Moog Jr. ’51
Alva Moog died on Sept. 3 at age 89, from complications following hip surgery. He is survived by Jean, his wife of 64 years, three of their five children and 10 grandchildren.
He was raised in St. Louis and came to Amherst in 1947 from the St. Louis Country Day School. He was a member of Beta. We might recall Alva best for his work as business manager of the Amherst student newspaper.
After college he returned to his hometown, worked at family-owned Serta Royal Bedding Co. and became owner in 1959, a position he held until he sold that very successful business in 2007.
Along the way, Jean founded and managed on a daily basis the Moog Center for Deaf Education. With his business skills, Alva became chairman of the board and the school’s financial and business manager. The Moog Center teaches deaf children to talk and offers services for deaf children from birth through second grade. At age 6 or 7, most have the skills to be full participants with their hearing peers.
Alva was also a director of the Wyman Center (no relation to our Tom), a charitable organization that offers to fund supplementary educational opportunities for financially disadvantaged high school students attending St. Louis schools. In our 35th reunion book, Alva referred to himself as a “mattress stuffer” with a wife and daughter who teach young deaf children how to talk! No doubt Alva did his part in a wonderful family enterprise. —Everett E. Clark ’51, with input from Jean Moog
William C. Purdy ’51
Bill Purdy passed away on Oct. 30 after a prolonged illness. A loving and devoted family man, Bill is survived by his wife of 66 years, Myrna Moman Purdy (Mount Holyoke ’53), whom he called Chris; three of his children: R. Scott Purdy ’77, Lisa Purdy (Mount Holyoke ’79) and Lori Purdy Sonntag (Mount Holyoke ’82); and his five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son Robert Purdy (1954–1958) and his brother, John Earl Purdy Jr. ’54.
Bill came to Amherst from Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was a member of Phi Alpha Psi fraternity, lettered in swimming and sang first tenor with the Glee Club. Bill earned his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955. He pursued a career in academia, first at the University of Connecticut and then at the University of Maryland, where he became a full professor in 1964 and head of the analytical division in 1968.
In 1976, Bill left Maryland to become professor of analytical chemistry at McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec. He was appointed Sir William C. Macdonald Professor of Chemistry and associate vice principal (academic). He directed or co-directed the research of 49 recipients of the Ph.D. degree and 23 recipients of the M.Sc. degree. He authored or co-authored 244 peer reviewed publications. His monograph, Electroanalytical Methods in Biochemistry, was published in 1965 by McGraw-Hill. Bill retired in 2000.
Singing was Bill’s form of relaxation and his avocation. A devoted member of the Presbyterian Church, he sang in various church choirs, including the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul in Montreal, which excelled in its eight major public concerts each year. Bill had fond memories of the Fairest College and remained active in alumni affairs, homecomings and reunions. —Chris Purdy, Lisa, Lori and Scott, with input from Everett E. Clark ’51
Jean-Paul Delamotte ’52
Jean-Paul Delamotte, writer, literature lover and staunch promoter of Australian culture in France, died on Sept. 21 at his home in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, one month before his 88th birthday.
He and his wife, Monique, lived in Australia in the 1970s. They had applied for work at three Australian universities with introduction letters from French writer Eugène Ionesco and NYU Professor Serge Doubrovsky, and Professor Ken Dutton in Newcastle had replied first. The emerging art scene of the 1970s was at full speed. They were greeted by the local newspaper, treated as friends and felt immediately at home.
When, a few years later, family difficulties in France brought the couple back to Paris, the Delamottes endeavored to promote Australian literature and culture to French literati—who thought that French literature should be world-renowned but made no effort to reciprocate and acknowledge the value of other literatures. Jean-Paul became a pioneer in the move to open literature to otherness and a staunch promoter of cultural reciprocity. He lobbied diplomats and personalities such as former president Jacques Chirac, a friend from his university days at Paris’s Sciences Po. He was a great admirer of committed Francophile Gough Whitlam; reciprocating, Margaret Whitlam granted her patronage to the Association Culturelle Franco-Australienne, which he launched with Monique in the early 1980s.
He wrote his whole life—novels, short stories, essays, poetry. His books were published by Gallimard, Plon, Belfon and La Petite Maison. He wrote for Le Magazine littéraire, Le Monde des livres and La Nouvelle revue française. His diary, only partially published, is thousands of pages long. Thanks to Monique’s devotion, he remained to the end in his peaceful home in Boulogne and stopped living when he could no longer write, talk or type. —Guibourg Delamotte
David E. Gyger ’52
Dave Gyger lived a rich and useful life. He became a respected and admired Australian arts journalist, for three decades running the magazine Opera Australia, later called Opera-Opera. In 2009 his adopted nation (he held dual citizenship) awarded him the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to arts and community. The curiosity that led him Down Under was fed by U.S. Army service in Korea, where he met Australian soldiers, but his musicality sprang from the culture in Boston, where he heard the revered baritone Leonard Warren sing Rigoletto.
Amherst developed and exploited these skills. He was news editor of the Student and, I can attest, possessed a vast classical record collection that adorned the suite we shared at Phi Alpha Psi senior year. The shy, quiet, industrious undergraduate was vigorously coaxed into fraternity membership.
He was editor for seven years of the Riverina Express in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Moving to Canberra in 1966 to join the staff of the Australian, he met Alison Jones, a Ph.D. student and lecturer in the Australian National University English department. They were married in 1967 and relocated to Sydney with the Australian. He became music critic, a post he held for four years that spanned the opening of the grand Sydney Opera House.
David ran the opera magazine jointly with Alison until 2007. Their deep and comprehensive coverage of opera everywhere gave particular encouragement to young artists. They lived forever in Sydney, moving only to be closer to the Opera House. The family, including daughter Helen and sons Elliott and Andrew, were with him when he died. After David died on July 31 at 87, Opera Australia dedicated its next performance, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, to him. —Jack MacKenzie ’52
John D. Herzog ’52
Zog was a distinguished and provocative anthropologist. He was aptly described in a spacious Boston Globe obituary on Sept. 14: “longtime professor at Northeastern University, an advocate for children, a cheese connoisseur, a gardener extraordinaire, a Sunday soccer player, a man who tried every day to make the world a better place for future generations.”
Among major pursuits, Zog and his psychologist wife, Dorothy, spent a decade studying Compagnonnage, a French elite post-secondary skilled apprentice program featuring molded wood and other remarkable objects. Zog started his mornings with bread, coffee and animated conversation with French rurals in a nearby café in their town north of Lyon.
Zog’s father, James, was a respected trade specialist. His mother, Dorothy Ducas, was a White House reporter for the New York Herald Tribune when women didn’t have jobs like that. At Amherst, Zog was Phi Beta Kappa, a competitive swimmer and a contributor to the Student. His anthropology studies began at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he met Dorothy. They lived in Barbados and Kenya as well as France. Back home, he bucked neighborhood-threatening highway construction, and he championed the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering.
Dorothy survives him, as do sons Matthew and Thaddeus, daughter Katie and a pride of relateds. —Jack MacKenzie ’52
Grant C. Leschin ’52
It is most sad to report the death of Grant Charles Leschin, one of the most distinguished members of the class of 1952. Grant was 92, a bit older than most of us; he had served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II before entering the Fairest College.
Grant is survived by Patricia, his wife of 55 years; three children; and five grandchildren.
At Amherst, Grant was a superior student and a wonderful contributor to campus life. He was a member of Scarab, which as you will remember was the senior society for distinguished students at the College.
Grant was a graduate of Yale Law School. He spent his business career with IBM, where over the years he rose to become one of its significant executives.
Grant Leschin was a man of many talents. He was a master omelet maker, a brilliant contract bridge player and an excellent golfer and fisherman to boot. He was also a superb support and example for his children and grandchildren. Wow!
Grant will be sadly missed by Amherst, his family and a multitude of friends, but we should consider ourselves lucky to have had him around for 92 years. —Bill Smethurst ’52
Henry N. Woolman III ’53
Hank grew up in suburban Philadelphia and prepared for Amherst at Episcopal Academy. He majored in biology and was a member of Phi Delta Theta. One of the top high hurdlers in New England and top point earners for Amherst, Hank was track captain, ran cross country and joined the Sailing Club and the Christian Association. At Penn State he earned a second bachelor’s degree, in agriculture, which led to his running a beef cattle farm near Valley Forge, Pa.
Later, Hank continued an active outdoor life in farming in The Plains, Va. There, too, as his obituary explains, he was famous in the local fox-hunting world, serving at various times as master of the fox hounds for the Orange County hunt, as honorary huntsman for the local pony club and also as a judge for the hound show. Fishing, too, was a big part of his outdoor life and his claim to fame as a maker of bamboo fly rods and handtied flies, which he sold in his outdoorsman shop. As the founder of the Rapidan chapter of Trout Unlimited, he donated his fly rods for fundraising. In retirement Hank served as a fishing guide in Yellowstone National Park from the family summer home at the northeast entrance to the park in Silver Gate, Mont.
Hank’s memberships included Trout Unlimited and the Society of Cincinnati.
His family’s historical roots reached back to John Woolman, famous colonial Quaker abolitionist campaigner and writer.
Hank passed away on July 27, “peacefully at his home with his wife, Marcia.” Also surviving him are sons Michael and Andy, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and his sister, Joan. His eldest son, Henry IV, predeceased Hank in 2018. —George Edmonds ’53
Julius “Reb” Jensen III ’54
We have been apprised that Reb Jensen died peacefully in his sleep on Oct. 12.
He came to Amherst from St. Louis (Mo.) Country Day School, where he had won the Headmaster’s Cup. As an undergraduate, Reb was a member of Beta Theta Pi, earned his numerals for freshman football and majored in economics. Following four years of service in the U.S. Air Force stationed
in Japan, where he was a general’s aide-de-camp, Reb earned an M.B.A. at Harvard and embarked upon a very successful career in business and finance, initially on Wall Street and culminating in 30 years as managing general partner at Boston-based Copley Venture Partners.
Reb had a great love for the island of Nantucket, where his father was a landowner and where he and Daintry were married in 1959. With the help of a historian, he became an expert on its land distribution dating back to the early days of the English settlement and was dedicated to preserving its natural beauty. Thanks to his efforts, more than 240 acres known as Norwood Farms were placed into perpetual conservation.
He served on many boards and associations over the years wherever the family resided, including with United Funds, Dedham Country Day School, Nantucket Yacht Club, Nantucket Historical Association and Riverside Theater Company. He also served as president of Sankaty Head Golf Club.
For a number of years, the Jensens split time between Nantucket and Vero Beach, Fla. Recently, Reb devoted himself to the care of Daintry, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and who survives him, along with daughters Daintry Jensen and Julia (Tim) Weed, and two grandchildren, Louise and Trowbridge Weed. A son, Christopher ’82, predeceased him. —Hank Tulgan ’54
Jack Walter Carl Hagstrom ’55
Jack died unexpectedly on Nov. 14. I first met Jack during rush at Phi Psi, where he later became president. While at Amherst, he managed the lacrosse and swimming teams, was business manager of the Student and was elected to Sphinx. After graduation, he became class secretary.
Jack graduated from Cornell Medical School and spent his entire career in academic medicine, teaching first at Cornell, then at Case Western and finally at Columbia Presbyterian and Harlem Hospital Center in New York City.
Jack met Robert Frost the fall of our freshman year, and they became close friends, with Jack as his driver to many meetings and poetry readings. Jack also met the then-current Lord Jeffery Amherst and said Lord Amherst was the role model who helped shape his life. Jack worked closely with Frost Library at Amherst, where he worked on the bibliographies of Richard Oliver and James Merrill.
Jack retired in 1991 and lived in Water Mill, N.Y., with his husband, Tom Fleming. They also had two beautiful and comforting summer homes in Maine, one in Belfast and one by a lake near Belfast. Jack developed macular degeneration in his later years but continued to read (with help), travel and enjoy life. He always said, “I owe a lot of my good fortune to my Amherst experience.”
Several classmates have shared comments about Jack. Gordie Forbes ’55 said Jack helped him grow as a person and as a Christian. Van Seasholes ’55 remembers that Jack always had a kind word for those he met. Al McLean ’55 described Jack as a “gracious, caring guy whom I always respected and appreciated.”
Amherst awarded him with the Distinguished Service Award in 1986.
He was a true gentleman, kind and caring, and a good friend. —Ted Ruegg ’55
Clyde L. “Les” Nash Jr. ’55
It was 1951 when Les began his journey at Amherst, where he majored in economics, played football and was captain of the ice hockey team. He was a member of Sphinx and was president of both his class and the Beta fraternity. While at Amherst, Les also met his wife of 64 years, Deb Hazzard (Mount Holyoke ’55).
Following a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, Les began his medical career by attending Western Reserve Medical School, where he pursued orthopedic surgery, becoming a world-renowned scholar in scoliosis. His career focused on patient care, clinical research and teaching and took him worldwide. Among his many achievements in the field, he developed the first spinal cord monitoring system, which transformed spine surgery. Les was a leader locally and internationally, becoming president of Scoliosis Research Society in 1982, chairing the Musculoskeletal Committee at the Department of Surgery at CWRU, founding the Rainbow Spine Center and chairing departments at St. Luke’s Hospital and Metrohealth. He also earned a degree in medical education in 1975.
When not practicing medicine, Les pursued his many passions, including golf, bridge, skiing, sailing and music. He was an ardent supporter of the local arts, including Cleveland Opera and Apollo’s Fire. In addition to his numerous research publications, he was a prolific poet, penning more than 300 poems. Les worked tirelessly to support all of his schools in many alumni roles.
Les loved his wife, Deb; their three children, Liz ’81, Doug ’86 and Kelly; their spouses; their eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The Amherst ties run deep as, to date, the family boasts eight Amherst alumni.
More recently, Les split his time between Cleveland and Boca Grande, Fla., where he continued to be involved in many activities. Les died Sept. 13. —Liz Nash Patterson ’81, Douglas Nash ’86 and Kelly Nash Quinn
Harold Franklin Bloomer Jr. ’56
Franklin—lawyer and adventurer—died at home Sept. 13 after a short battle with leukemia. Born in New York City, growing up in Riverside, Conn., he is survived by brother Kent; daughters Sarah, Gail, Leslie, Kate and Alice; and seven grandchildren.
He matriculated to Amherst from St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Conn. After several years in the navy and a few more in the family business, Franklin pivoted to the legal profession, garnering a 1967 Columbia law degree. Franklin lived in Riverside his entire life, except when he worked as a lawyer in Saudi Arabia and London. He retired as a partner at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius.
Franklin’s sizeable bucket list included sailing, hiking, running, canoeing, kayaking, Nordic skiing and bicycling. He traveled to all seven continents and ran six marathons. He sailed all his life, both racing and cruising, including piloting a 29-foot sloop across the Atlantic in 1987. He hiked the Appalachian Trail, cycled across the United States and skied annually in Scandinavia. His most unique trip was paddling around Baffin Island, Canada (the world’s fifth largest island!), in a kayak in 1974. Planning each adventure gave him as much delight as the trip itself.
Franklin loved opera and choral music. He sang in London, Saudi Arabia, New York City and at home, as a longtime member of the Greenwich Choral Society; he also sang with the Berkshire Choral Festival and New Rochelle Opera.
Franklin was elected to the Greenwich Town Council for 14 two-year terms. Serving on advisory bodies focused on transportation, he started a Mother’s Day bike ride, designed bike routes for the East Coast Greenway and helped found a national wildlife refuge off Greenwich. Franklin realized most of his bucket list but always said his “greatest achievement was my five wonderfully accomplished daughters,” who were by his side when he passed away. —Sarah Bloomer
Charles B. Morgan ’56
Charlie passed away Sept. 13 from complications of lymphoma. Raised in Duane in northern New York, he attended Northwood School in Lake Placid. At Amherst, he majored in dramatic arts and was a member of the football, hockey and swimming teams. He was also the manager of WAMF and president of the Outing Club. At the end of his junior year, he married Betsy Wright, his wife of 64 years.
After college, the Morgans moved to New Jersey, and Charlie began his lifelong career as an investment adviser. By 1958 he had joined Bache and Co., and in the mid-1970s he moved to their Syracuse, N.Y., office.
Charlie served on many charitable boards, and unlike some who collect board memberships like trophies, Charlie was a dedicated worker, being especially supportive of Crouse Hospital, Syracuse Symphony, Syracuse Stage, Cazenovia College and Lemoyne College. Well into his 70s, Charlie was very active physically, climbing the high peaks of the Adirondacks long after earlier climbing all 46 peaks greater than 4,000 feet.
Gregarious and congenial, he could walk into a room of strangers and light it up. His knowledge and
interest in many subjects made him a great guest anywhere. Charlie was at home both in a Victorian drawing room and with a group of Millennials. A gentleman in the finest sense of the word, he was generous with his time, friendship and charitable giving.
Charlie’s passing reminds us all how much he contributed and how greatly we feel his loss. The words of the “Senior Song” seem appropriate now: Gather closer, hand to hand, / The time draws near when we must part, / Still the love of college days will linger / Ever in each heart.
Charlie is survived by Betsy; four children, Charles, Alexandra, Jeffery and Edward; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. —Arnold Poltenson ’56
Dudley H. Woodall ’56
We lost Woody on July 22, in Farmington, Maine. Born in Newark, N.J., he is survived by his wife of 40 years, Alyce Strickland Woodall; two sons and daughters-in-law; one daughter and son-in-law; and four grandchildren.
After graduating from George School Prep in Newton, Pa., Woody came to Amherst, where he was an economics major and a member of Kappa Theta. After a required stint in the U.S. Air Force, Woody received his M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh.
Originally employed at Westinghouse, Woody was lured away from the refrigerator production line in 1968 to become business manager and a member of the team that established Hampshire College. “We helped get it up and going. My four years there were almost like another four years at Amherst; I lost my heart and soul to college administration.”
After Hampshire, he became CFO of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio; next, treasurer of Bowdoin College; and finally, New England College in Henniker N.H., made Woody director of NEC’s British campus in Arundel, West Sussex, England. Woody said that his greatest satisfaction as a professional administrator was helping to ensure access to a quality education for students of all backgrounds.
Under Woody’s quiet demeanor was a man with an enthusiasm for life. He traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Central America, Europe and the Middle East. He loved motorcycles, Formula One racing, single malt scotch, ice hockey, the Patriots, a hand of cards, a fine cigar, the companionship of good dogs, a hearty laugh, his second home in Nova Scotia and a fine meal. Above all else, Woody loved being at the helm of a sailboat. As per his wishes, Woody’s ashes were spread at sea.
A life well lived. We mourn the loss of a memorable classmate. —Peter Levison ’56
Arthur Marsh Niner Jr. ’57
In April 1955, Marsh and Mike Sisk ’57 decided to take their junior year abroad, choosing the University of St. Andrews. On checking with Dean Scott Porter about transferring credit back to Amherst, the answer was, “No way.” President Cole summoned them and said that Amherst students should spend all four years at the College. Marsh and Mike went to Scotland anyway. (Happily, the College later relented, giving half a year’s academic credit at Amherst for the year at St. Andrews.) Taking extra courses senior year, Marsh was able to graduate with his class, as did Mike.
Marsh was an economics major, played varsity baseball, announced basketball and football games over College station WAMF and was a member of DKE.
Marsh joined the Air Force, followed by a career of nearly 30 years in the Central Intelligence Agency. He served in nine countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. In seven of these posts, he was the CIA chief of station. Along the way, he received an M.S. in international affairs from George Washington University and spent a year at the National War College in Washington.
Marsh met his artist wife-to-be, Uschi (nee Ursula Hinsch), in Baghdad and they married in Jerusalem.
In 1991, Marsh retired and moved to Hilton Head Island, S.C., and started spending summers in France. They bought a 200-year-old barn in the Burgundy countryside. Using this as their base, they later organized “enplein air” painting trips to Burgundy for American artists.
In addition to Uschi, his wife of 56 years, Marsh is survived by two daughters, Bettina Kehoe of Bloomington and Regina Conley of Boston; and five grandchildren.
Born in Washington, D.C., to Arthur M. and Viola (Weller) Niner, he died Aug. 30 at home, surrounded by his family. —Marsh Niner ’57
Charles F. “Denne” Pease ’57
Denne died May 14.
Denne majored in music at Amherst and was a member of Phi Psi. His extracurricular activities included wrestling and the Amherst College Band. He also played in the Smith College Orchestra, as Amherst did not have an orchestra then.
After Amherst, Denne attended the Juilliard School and received a performer’s certificate in oboe. He was principal oboist with the Toledo Symphony, 1962–85. He was an oboe instructor at the University of Toledo for 30 years, and he played in the faculty woodwind quintet. Later he taught at Heidelberg College and was principal oboist with the Adrian Symphony in Michigan.
Denne was a model train enthusiast and excellent Scrabble player. He was a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Toledo.
Denne is survived by his brother Roger Pease and half-brother Douglas Pease. —Bill Patrick ’57
Charles H. Reiners ’57
Chuck Reiners, an Amherst gentleman and scholar, later an outstanding pediatrician, died on Sept. 23, apparently from heart failure. After graduating from Amherst, Chuck attended the Upstate Medical School in Syracuse, N.Y.; did his internship and residency in Syracuse; served in the military; and started his pediatric practice in Fayetteville, N.Y., which soon thrived. After 22 years in practice, he returned to Upstate Medical as an associate professor of pediatrics and also operated a clinic there for indigent children.
I met Chuck as a pleasant and agreeable frosh and later became better acquainted with him as a fraternity brother at Theta Delta Chi, where he was treasurer in his senior year. “Ceps,” short for biceps, as he was known in the house, was a freshman swimmer and football player and lettered in swimming in his junior and senior years. He was a chemistry-biology major and an ROTC graduate.
Chuck and his wife were our personal friends for more than 30 years, and my wife and I were fortunate to have had Chuck as our son’s pediatrician. He was extremely conscientious and knowledgeable. He personally answered early morning phone questions while eating breakfast, and there was no extra charge for it. After he retired, Chuck gave us very valuable advice on a medical issue relating to our grandson. We are doubly thankful to have had the benefit of his unfailingly accurate pediatric advice.
Chuck had previously survived a serious auto accident, with the other driver going through a stoplight, and a life-threatening heart attack.
Frankly, by my estimate, Chuck was a great guy and a big contributor to the Syracuse area medical profession and everybody else he came into contact with. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; three children; and five grandchildren. He will be sorely missed. —George A. Mathewson ’57
Theodore Otto Alcaide ’58
Theodore Otto “Ted” Alcaide died of vascular dementia in hospice in the Town of Amherst on Aug. 8, at the age of 83.
Ted came to Amherst from Rivers School in Brookline, Mass., where he won the faculty, history and mathematics awards. In college, he majored in history and pledged Phi Alpha Psi, where he was elected vice president. He served on the Student and the Chest Drive, chaired Mardi Gras, was treasurer of the Prom Committee and was named to Sphinx.
Ted described his lifeline as “jagged and curved with multiple stops and restarts.” After earning his M.B.A. at Northwestern, Ted had a successful business career with a brokerage firm, an investment fund and a position with the SEC in Washington. He was serving as CFO of Beacon Press when they published the Pentagon papers. He also acted as financial consultant to firms experiencing financial difficulties.
Ted wrote that he found his true calling after retirement in 2000, serving the homeless through the Bread and Jams shelter in Cambridge, Mass. In Amherst, he tutored and mentored schoolchildren, read and discussed literature with the visually impaired and, with wife Elizabeth, a Unitarian Universalist minister, was an activist for civil rights, peace, justice and nuclear disarmament through advocacy and, if necessary, civil disobedience. He accomplished all this despite a lifelong seizure disorder and other illnesses he dealt with through diet, vigorous exercise and cognitive activities such as Tournament Bridge.
Despite his vascular dementia, Ted continued to be active and engaged, even mowing the lawn, albeit slowly. Two months before his death, Ted and his beloved Elizabeth quietly celebrated their 60th anniversary by sharing black raspberry chocolate chunk ice cream.
In addition to his widow, Rev. Elizabeth Hulsman Alcaide, Ted is survived by their children, Florence “Fawn” and Howard Alcaide, and numerous cousins and in-laws. —Ned Megargee ’58
Sanford Vint VanDerzee Jr. ’58
Sanford Vint VanDerzee Jr. of Cincinnati died Sept. 23 at age 82 after a six-year struggle with COPD.
Vint, who pledged Chi Psi, considered his years at Amherst “as two of the most significant and challenging of my life.” However, he left to complete his military obligation, acquire a B.B.A. and pursue a business career.
After serving two years as an electronics and gunnery specialist aboard the destroyer USS Hazelwood, Vint completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Clarkson College in Potsdam, N.Y.
Vint married and had two children. In our 50th reunion class book, he wrote, “After Wife #1 and I parted company in 1969, I found the love of my life a year later.” In 1971, Vint married Hermine Corinne Meissner, a teacher who had graduated from Ohio State. He adopted Hermine’s two daughters, and they collaborated on a third daughter in 1974.
Most of Vint’s business career was spent in the metals industry. Before founding his own metal sales agency in 2004, Vint spent 19 years in metal sales with Ryerson Steel and eight with General Extrusions.
Vint led an active life. In his 30s and 40s, he played hockey weekly with a group of similarly aged men and enjoyed boating, fishing and camping as well as photography, gardening and genealogy. He and Hermine traveled extensively throughout the eastern United States and enjoyed visiting relatives in Germany.
Vint loved organizing and meeting people. He was active in his church and remained involved in a neighborhood civic association he helped found in the early 2000s.
In addition to Hermine, his wife of 48 years, Vint is survived by five children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Vint donated his body to University of Cincinnati Medical School to be used for medical research. —Ned Megargee ’58
James D. Wallace ’59
Jim died in July in Tempe, Ariz., survived by his wife of 59 years, Sally; daughter Amy; two granddaughters; and a daughter-in-law. He was pre-deceased by his son, the celebrated author David Foster Wallace ’85.
At Amherst, Jim was station master at WAMF and president of Kappa Theta. Here are remembrances from three close friends:
Sally and Jim were perfect for each other .... It was impossible to imagine either of them being married to anyone else. Jim treasured the philosophy major and found in it a life career. Professor William Kennick was his chief mentor, and their relationship matched completely the Amherst ideal. Jim could be simultaneously terribly serious and very funny. He was one of the wisest and most thoughtful people I have known. More than once, his counseling was, for me, the best I found in college. —Robert Dalzell ’59
Jim came to Amherst as a quiet, shy kid who took his studies seriously, worked hard, did well and soon found the philosophy department with its dynamic duo of Kennick and Epstein. After graduating magna cum laude, Jim went to Cornell for his Ph.D. At the University of Illinois, he became a revered teacher of moral and ethical philosophy. His extensive publications reflect his strong affinity for the pragmatic philosophies of J.S. Mill and John Dewey. In retirement, he continued to live the life he taught, volunteering with his wife to work with children as a court-appointed surrogate. His quiet, gentle demeanor and thoughtful, penetrating intellect are fondly remembered. —Werner Gundersheimer ’59
Jim was a great guy to have as a friend, both at Amherst and for the next 60 years when we rarely missed a reunion with him and Sally, exchanged insightful political opinions, book reviews and recipes for steel-cut oatmeal—and treasured joint vacation adventures. Jim’s sharp, dry wit matched by Sally’s skill in repartee will be greatly missed. —Harvey Mierke ’59
Sidney R. Bixler ’61
Sid Bixler died on Aug. 17 peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends. He came from a long line of Amherst connections starting in 1879: grandfather, father, stepmother, two great-uncles, aunt and three uncles, one of whom became president of Colby College.
Sid attended Phillips Exeter Academy and obtained his law degree at Harvard. An economics major at Amherst, he was a member of Theta Delta Chi and played football, lacrosse and track. Also, a heavyweight wrestler, he was known for wrestling classmates including Bill Keith ’61 in the hallway of Morrow. Sid received the Harlan Fiske Stone prize.
After law school, Sid moved to Anchorage, Alaska, then joined the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., in the tax and civil rights divisions. He began the work for which he was most proud, enforcing voting rights, monitoring redistricting and filing lawsuits coming from investigations mainly in Mississippi and Virginia.
He then went into private practice, focusing on criminal defense, which led him to work in the office of the attorney general of the District of Columbia. Sid realized he could help both the criminal and the victim by becoming a compassionate prosecutor. He retired in 2011 and moved to Jaffrey, N.H., where he had spent his childhood. There he was active in the Red Cross, Thorndike Club and Monadnock Quaker Meeting.
He had a lifelong dedication to civil rights and to ending gun violence, and a lifelong passion for the law.
Sid is survived by his wife, Nan Beiter; children Joshua Bixler, Matthew Bixler (wife Melissa Bixler), Joanna Beiter and Meg Beiter (husband Spencer Henderson); grandson Carter; sisters Aggie Bixler Kurtz (husband Tom Kurtz) and Elizabeth Bixler (spouse Betsy East); and many friends. —Ted Ells ’61
Jamison “Jay” Meredith Jr. ’65
Jamison “Jay” Meredith died on Sept. 13. Although reportedly incapacitated for several years and unable to speak owing to a series of strokes, his mind remained clear, and he was able to communicate.
I recall Jay at Amherst as quiet, kind and personable, yet also as someone who usually kept to himself. Pat recalls him as unpretentious, his casually unworldly presence partly relieving the pressure we all felt in our disciplines.
Jay, a biology major, had a fine sense of humor but never laughed at his own jokes. Jay hailed from Fairmont, W.Va.; I had lived in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. As Alpha Delta Phi pledges, Jay, Pat and I shared in the initiation stunts that played off detectable idiosyncrasies. Jay, because of his West Virginian accent, was assigned to recite Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” on the steps of Converse and managed this with the best of grace, if not of elocution.
None of us saw or heard from Jay following graduation. In 2014, I reached out to encourage him to attend our 50th reunion and discovered he was living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. His son Alec responded that while Jay could not attend, he appreciated hearing from a classmate. Since then, I had always intended to see Jay but regrettably had not. Then Alec’s email came with news of his father’s passing. At Jay’s funeral, I met Alec and his wife, Eliana.
Alec reported that, while Jay regularly read Amherst and often sat in his “black Amherst chair,” he “didn’t talk much of Amherst, and he never went back.” While “proud of his alma mater, it sounded like a real grind most of the time.”
For much of his career, Jay was a self-employed software developer for the construction industry.
It seems Jay lived his life, much of it, his way. We miss him. —Stan Durkee ’65, with Pat Murray ’65
John Richard “Mac” MacMillan ’66
John “Mac” MacMillan died on Aug. 7 in Boise, Idaho, with wife Roberta, daughters Valerie and Joan and other loving family members by him. He had lived with Alzheimer’s for many years.
Mac came to Amherst from Summit (N.J.) High School. He was a member of Chi Phi, ran track, played squash and, modest in size but great in heart, played rugby. His passion was geology. Mac’s senior thesis demonstrated that passion, as he measured individual grains of sand for weathering effects of water flow in the former swimming pool of the old Pratt Gymnasium, repurposed as the geology building.
In summer 1965, he headed to Wyoming for fieldwork, returning quite taken by the landscape of the West. He earned driver legend status on a 1966 Grand Canyon mapping expedition, piloting his classmate-packed Ford Falcon to Arizona and back on spring break. Mac’s driving fortitude is celebrated in the poem “Sugar Mountain” yours truly penned, and read to him by phone, for the 50th reunion.
After a Ph.D. in geology from Northwestern, where he met wife-to-be, Roberta, Mac became a tenured faculty member at New Mexico Mining and Technology Institute. After 17 years, modern man that Mac was, the couple relocated to Idaho to support Roberta’s career in computer science. Mac practiced geology on the side and dedicated himself to the raising of their two daughters and generous service to church and community.
In daughter Valerie’s words, “Mac’s love was deeper and more stable than the bedrock he enjoyed studying.” His insight, gentle laugh and persistent thoughtfulness endeared him to his Amherst classmates and were gifts to his students and to his family.
A memorial service was held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Boise on Aug. 28. —Doug Dunlap ’66
John M. Sessions ’66
Sad as it is, it’s my honor to remember John Sessions. John died on July 8 from pancreatic cancer. John grew up in East Aurora (known to some as East Cupcake), N.Y. He majored in French, played hockey and was a member of Phi Gam.
After Amherst, he earned a Ph.D. in French literature from the University of Rochester, focusing on 19th-century French literature. John taught at Eisenhower College before returning to his high school alma mater, the Nichols School, where he spent the rest of his career (during which he also obtained an M.A. in history from the University of Buffalo). He taught French, European history and art history. He was a champion of foreign languages at Nichols and of international student exchange programs,
which he helped to pioneer there. John once invited me to Nichols to speak about the Human Genome Project, on which I was working. It was clear how highly the students regarded John and how much they liked him. He was a real Mr. Chips, and his 1991 history of Nichols is still quoted in the school magazine.
John is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ann Montgomery Sessions (Smith ’67); his daughters, Jennifer Sessions and Catherine Kersey; his son-in-law, Christopher Kersey; his grandchildren, Ryan and Elinor; his sister, Ann Sessions Barber; and his grand-dog, Hannah.
John was a lifelong traveler, accomplished photographer, avid canoeist and outdoorsman and much-beleaguered fan of Buffalo sports teams and the Red Sox. We managed to see each other only a few times after college, but each time we did, it was as if no time at all had passed. We enjoyed our visits as much as we had enjoyed life together from 1962 to 1966. He will be missed. —Doug Dunlap ’66
Richard J. Sullivan ’68
I was browsing in the Jeff bookstore freshman year when this big stranger wrapped me in a bear hug from behind and demanded, “You’re coming out for wrestling, aren’t you.” He waited to let go until I gave him an affirmative response. Our rough and playful friendship has been lifelong.
Rich was the most beautiful wrestler I ever saw. Explosive, powerful, graceful. He was New England champion, could have been national champion had he gone to Oklahoma or Penn State, but an Amherst education was his priority.
After a Ph.D. in English at Rutgers, Sully taught and coached at Friends Academy on Long Island, N.Y., for his entire career. He was proud of what Amherst taught him, and he passed it on. A video his students sent him after he was diagnosed with cancer confirmed how much they loved Dr. Sullivan. He will live inside generations of men and women.
Sully had a sharp mind, a playful dry wit and a rebellious intellect that would take an opposing view, especially when it was not popular. In retirement, he kept active hiking and participating in reading groups. He loved to research and present his findings. Always a teacher.
What I remember most fondly is the way he spoke about his children. He clearly loved them, saw who they were and admired each of them for the unique way they moved in the world. Betsy and Rich built a great family.
During his illness, Rich had the courage to reach out to friends. On our last conversation, he did not say goodbye. The big bear that wrapped his arms around me 55 years ago said the three words I had never heard him say before.
I love you, too, Rich. I hope we will have one more afternoon in the Amherst wrestling room. —Larry Lincoln ’68
William L. Meadow ’69
Bill Meadow died Sept. 14 after battling leukemia. He was a member of Phi Delta, the Zumbyes and the tennis and squash teams. He attended medical school at Penn State, and he practiced neonatology at the University of Chicago hospitals.
Bill published more than 90 academic papers and 48 book chapters on neonatology, as well as more than 200 scholarly abstracts. In fact, he wrote the book on ethics for care of infants born prematurely or with significant health concerns. He was a pioneer in the development of this field.
Said one colleague, “Bill was a teacher in everything he did. He was absolutely committed to students, as well as to his patients. He was the only doctor I have ever met who made rounds on each of his patients twice a day, and then came back in the evening to make rounds again. Bill would also, once a year, spend a full day as a nurse, with appropriate guidance. The NICU nurses teased him and questioned his efficiency, but they admired and appreciated the effort.”
While doing all of that, he was a dedicated family man. Said his wife, Susan (a professor of psychology at Chicago), “He made time [for us] despite a doctor’s schedule. He was extraordinarily generous with his family. But he was a dedicated physician. When the urgent calls came, when his leadership was necessary for the care for a sick child, he got up and went in. He somehow relished odd schedules. He was a wonderful, charming man and a surrogate father to much of Hyde Park and the university community. He could be gruff, when needed, but he was loved. He was a great husband.”
It would be hard to find a more loving or more fitting obituary than that last statement. —Peter Snedecor ’69
Thomas P. Gilliss ’70
Thomas Park Gilliss was born in New York City on Aug. 16, 1948, to James Melville Gilliss and Edith Park Daniels. He died on Oct. 28 in San Francisco, in the presence of his wife, daughter and son. Tom’s early life was notable for the loss of his father and mother at a young age, motivating him to become the legal adoptive guardian to his younger sisters.
Admission Dean Wilson got it right when he selected Tom for the class of 1970. Tom came from Rippowam High School in Stamford, Conn. He was smart, athletic and thoughtful. He never said anything that he didn’t think over at least twice. Both he and his eventual wife of 49 years, Catherine Lynch Gilliss, were model handsome: Cathy used to refer to him as her “trophy husband.”
After graduating from Amherst cum laude and from Catholic University as editor of the law review, Tom joined Arent Fox Kinter Plotkin & Kahn and later Hancock, Rothert & Bunshoft before founding Gilliss & Valla. Eventually Cathy took a position as dean of the Yale School of Nursing, and Tom came to New Haven and practiced law in my office for several years.
Tom personified the ability to think critically that Amherst taught us, but most of all, he could listen carefully and address a problem or issue with perception and only after serious deliberation.
Tom’s greatest joy was spending time with his five grandchildren. He spent his last years teaching them to swim at his home in Glen Ellen, Calif., and cheering at sporting events. In addition to them, he is survived by his wife, Catherine Lynch Gilliss; daughter Edith Megan Gilliss; and son Brian Matthew Gilliss ’01.
Like all of us, I always thought he was beyond the reach of mortality.
—Jonathan J. Einhorn ’70, with Brian Gilliss ’01
Richard S. Weinhaus ’70
Rick died on Aug. 29 after a long illness, surrounded by his wife, Karen, and his children, Sonia and Josh.
Those who knew Rick at Amherst will remember his curious mind, gentle spirit and droll sense of humor. His classmates will likely also remember his musical talent. Rick played the bass in two on-campus bands, Friends of Miss Florence and Sundance, as well as in Jim Steinman’s The Dream Engine. After graduating from Amherst, Rick studied bass at the Berklee School of Music and later at Yale. Ultimately, he decided to pursue a medical career, but music remained a beloved avocation. In recent years, he took up the viola da gamba and learned solfege.
After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Rick became an ophthalmologist and settled with his family in Watertown, Mass. He’s remembered fondly by his patients and colleagues, who will greatly miss his medical expertise and his kindness. Toward the end of his career, Rick pursued an interest in electronic medical records and published a number of articles on the subject.
During his free time, Rick became an avid sailor and a devoted runner. He and Brian Spear ’72 read challenging masterpieces together, including Don Quixote and Principia Mathematica, which they discussed during monthly phone conversations. And Rick loved playing music with his old bandmate Eric Kriss ’71.
Despite undergoing arduous treatment for leukemia and enduring numerous other health crises, Rick nonetheless felt that the last several years of his life were his happiest. He took tremendous joy in spending time with his family and friends. Just a few months before he died, Rick returned to Amherst with Karen, Sonia and Josh for the 50th anniversary performance of The Dream Engine. He loved being back on campus and reconnecting with old friends. —Barbara Heuman Kriss ’71
Thomas G. Bias ’71
Our DKE brother and friend Tom Bias of Flanders, N.J., died peacefully at home Oct. 17 following a long, courageous battle with prostate cancer. He was surrounded by his wife, Linda Bryk, and daughter, Fiona Kyle. He is also survived by his sister, Nancy Nicholson, and brother, George Bias. Thomas was predeceased by his first daughter, Sarah Bryk-Bias, and his parents, Guy and Wilma Bias.
Tom was born in Tulsa, Okla. His family later settled in Baltimore. He attended the Gilman School and graduated in 1967. Tom then attended Amherst, where he pledged DKE and was elected vice president. He graduated with a B.A. in English literature. His political activism was ignited at Amherst; he tore through the library to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That led him to discover socialism, and he joined the Young Socialist Alliance.
After moving to New York City in 1971, Tom joined the Socialist Workers Party. He later joined the Fourth Internationalist Tendency. He began work as a printer in the typographical trade, where he was a union organizer and a proud member of the International Typographical Union. Later he worked at Arrow Typographers in Newark, N.J., for 14 years, specializing in foreign languages.
In 2010 he co-developed the Labor Fightback Network. Tom throughout his life was a committed socialist, an organized labor advocate and a peace and freedom activist. In 2014 he became involved in the Episcopal Church. Inspired by his Oklahoma heritage, and by Woody Guthrie, he picked up the 12-string guitar. He sang with the Solidarity Singers of the NJ IUC and was the organist and choir director of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church. He wrote songs that were a testament to his beliefs and will leave a legacy of hope for the future of the working class. —Fiona Bias and Tony Hom ’71
Ernest Palmer III ’71
I am saddened to report the death of Ernest Palmer III on Nov. 3 in Glenview, Ill. Ernie grew up in Winnetka, Ill., where he was an active member of the Presbyterian Church for more than 60 years. At the time of his death, Ernie was the proprietor of a financial planning firm with an eponymous name in Northfield, Ill. He founded the firm in 1976 after four years at the First National Bank of Chicago. While working at the Bank, Ernie earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.
Ernie was one of five classmates from New Trier High School. At Amherst, Ernie displayed an uninhibited zest for life, beginning with impromptu bits at football games including dressing in a raccoon coat, leapfrogging over complicit spectators and inciting his Morrow dorm mates to cheer louder. Ernie and I became friends when we both joined Psi U later that year.
Midway through sophomore year, Ernie moved into the Psi U house and became the life of the fraternity’s social functions. His legendary exploits
included sleeping on the duct pipes above the bar and wearing a mini to the annual toga party. After his sophomore year, Ernie left Amherst for a semester but returned in January 1970. Two months later, a grinning Ernie was prominently displayed in Life magazine in a photo with David Durk ’57, who was recruiting Amherst students for the New York police department. In his senior year, Ernie served on the College Council and worked to achieve parity between the student and faculty members of the council. He graduated with his classmates as an English major.
Ernie is survived by his four siblings and his three children, Brittany, Brooke and Daniel. The class extends its sympathy to them all. —Tom Taylor ’71
Stephen A. Reed ’71
Steve Reed died on Oct. 12 in Chattanooga, Tenn. He left a daughter, Patricia Garbarino; five grandchildren; and his younger sister, Claudia Reed.
Steve graduated from Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y., a three-season letterman and a student council member. He ambled quietly onto the Amherst campus and was soon a respected classmate with many friends in our class and among the upperclassmen. His high school nickname, “Boo Boo,” stuck with him somehow among his close Amherst friends starting on the fourth floor of Morrow. Small in stature, quiet and completely unassuming, Steve was like a brother to those lucky enough to know him well on the football field, in the classroom, as a Valentine busman or at a tap. He majored in economics. He rarely discussed his work but kept his nose to the grindstone. With his trademark grin and quiet wit, Steve had a cadre of friends at Beta, DU and the other now-defunct fraternity houses where athletes were found around a tap.
Steve earned his law degree in 1977 from Indiana University and his L.L.M. in taxation from the University of Miami. In 1984 he began a 33-year career as a tax attorney for the Provident Life and Accident Co. in Chattanooga, from which he retired in 2017. Coworkers loved him. Steve was a kind friend who often kept to himself. He is remembered for his love and care of animals. Steve’s closest friends in his later years were those with whom he rode for “Team Bubba,” a serious Chattanooga cycling club. Steve’s nickname was “Grinder” for his grit on long, tough rides. He was also known for his encouragement of the newer “Bubba” cyclists by holding back to help them follow the long routes. —Charlie March ’71
Steven A. Cadwell ’72
It is with deep sadness that I pen this memorial note for Steve Cadwell ’72, my closest friend from Amherst and a special friend to many classmates also. Steve died peacefully at home in Concord, Mass., on Aug. 29 after a brave struggle against glioblastoma. He is survived by his husband, Joe Levine; his son, Isaac Cadwell-Levine; his five brothers, their spouses, sons and daughters; and many, many friends.
Several years after he left Amherst, Steve decided to become a therapist—which was surely the right choice, given his gifts. He earned an M.S.W. from the University of Texas, then returned to New England and began his career working at the Jamaica Plain Community Health Center. When the AIDS crisis hit Boston in the 1980s, Steve dedicated himself to offering support and services to victims of the disease and also to their therapists and care providers. He became a leader in the gay therapeutic community, returning to Smith College for his doctorate and then specializing in group therapy for gay men.
His book, Therapists on the Front Line: Psychotherapy with Gay Men in the Age of AIDS (American Psychiatric Press), remains a standard text in the field. In 2018 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy.
To know Steve at all was to know him well. He was remarkably—almost uniquely—open to others; he lived for many things, including art, justice for gay Americans, his family and his clients. But I think we at Amherst will remember him best for being so enthusiastically interested in making friends and in cultivating and maintaining his many friendships over many years. —Nick Bromell ’72
Bruce Pollock Thompson ’72
Bruce Thompson died peacefully at home on Aug. 26 after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer. He was born Nov. 26, 1950, in Dubuque, Iowa, the son of Sinclair and Jean Thompson, missionaries in Thailand for 15 years. Bruce spent his childhood in Chiengmai, Thailand, and then lived in Swarthmore, Pa., from middle school through college years. He attended Swarthmore High School and followed his brother David ’70 to Amherst.
At Amherst, Bruce majored in biology, participated on the track team and joined Phi Delta Sigma. After graduating with various academic honors, he pursued graduate studies in biogeochemistry at Dartmouth
College, working toward a Ph.D. in wetland ecology. Bruce married his college sweetheart, Christine Wilson (Mount Holyoke ’73), in August 1974 and enjoyed a happy married life for the next 45 years.
Bruce’s career transitioned from science to technology marketing and product management, as he worked at the forefront of technology innovation for companies such as Hewlett Packard, WRQ, AT&T and several startups. During his working years, Bruce resided in New England, California and Washington State, with a home base on the West Coast for most of his career. He retired at the end of 2017 and moved to Cape Cod soon thereafter.
Bruce is survived by his wife, Christine; his brother, David; his sister, Marjorie; and many loving extended family members.
Bruce was a man of many talents and will be long remembered for his curiosity, dedication to teaching others and willingness to share his encyclopedic knowledge on many subjects. And most of all, he will be remembered for his love of the natural world, passion for sailing and kayaking and abiding love for his wife, cherished family and friends. —David Thompson ’70
Eitan Fenson ’75
Our friend Eitan Fenson ’75 passed away June 30 from complications of thyroid cancer, near his home in Los Altos, Calif.
At Amherst, Eitan was known for his mathematical talent, bridge-playing and vocal expression of passionately held opinions—not necessarily in that order. One Phi Gam fraternity brother remembers Eitan from Calculus II. Professor Norton Starr used no textbook, expecting students to learn exclusively from lectures and equations scrawled on the blackboard. Eitan slouched his 6-foot, 4-inch frame in a chair and never took notes, yet aced the course with ease.
Others remember Eitan’s outspoken advocacy that New York was the greatest city in the world and the Yankees the greatest baseball team. Eitan loved his Amherst experience and spoke afterward of how much he enjoyed the campus setting, academics and classmates. His support for coeducation was rewarded when daughter Zoe, eldest of his three children, graduated with Amherst’s class of 2009.
Born in Israel to an American mother and Canadian father, Eitan moved to New York at age 4 and graduated from Stuyvesant High School. After Amherst, Eitan received a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Michigan, where he also met his wife, Barbara Weinstein. After a stint in New Jersey at Bell Labs, he was recruited to work in Silicon Valley, where he and Barbara raised their children and built tech-sector careers.
In the early 2000s, Eitan stepped back from corporate life to focus on political activism. As head of the Santa Clara County Democratic Volunteer Center, he led thousands in get-out-the-vote efforts. He supported immigrants and environmental causes. A volunteer who worked with Eitan wrote on a message board that he was “a sweet, calm leader who actually listened to us, his worker bees.” —Bob McCartney ’75
Rennyson “Renny” Merritt III ’75
Renny Merritt died Nov. 27 from Alzheimer’s disease. Diagnosed six years ago, he maintained his infectious good cheer to the very end.
Renny graduated magna cum laude with a double major in economics and religion, writing a thesis on a famous Japanese temple garden. Upon graduation, he used a Watson Fellowship to apprentice for renowned garden designer Nakane Kinsaku in Japan. Renny subsequently earned a master’s degree from the Conway School of Landscape Design and an M.B.A. from Yale, where he met his wife, Janet Taft. He worked 27 years in commercial real estate finance, primarily in Boston, as a senior marketing executive and chief operating officer.
With two sets of twin boys, Renny knew chaos. But as Charlie Monheim ’75 notes, he “strove to live in the present and embraced the Zen notion that enlightenment was not the sole preserve of the retreat or meditation session. The rough and tumble of work and family life were equally valuable opportunities to practice mindfulness and to be open to insight and self-reflection.”
Renny was best man at my wedding and brought flowers from Boston’s wholesale flower market to help make gorgeous bouquets for our reception. We met every few months for breakfast, where we’d marvel over the ups and downs of life. I saw Renny two weeks before he died. Despite his having lost most speech, he responded, “Me too,” when I squeezed his hand and told him how happy I was to see him.
Renny is survived by Janet and their sons, Breck, Riley, Whit and Sawyer, along with Shane, a friend of his boys who became part of their family. He shared with them his love of physical activity (hockey, lacrosse, golf, cycling, hiking and skiing) as well as his appreciation for landscape and nature. —Gib Metcalf ’75
Richard E. Thayer ’76
Our friend and roommate Rick Thayer died on June 10 in Boulder, Colo. Rick grew up in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and graduated from the Belmont Hill School. His Amherst ties reached back to the 19th century: he was a fourth-generation Thayer to attend the College.
Rick was, simultaneously, very private and actively social. He was a music lover. We were all jealous that he had made it to Woodstock. Sophomore year, he was instrumental in bringing Buddy Guy and Junior Wells to campus. And we spent hours in his room at Chi Phi listening to Goats Head Soup, the Rolling Stones’ latest album, half wanting to be Mick Taylor, half Mick Jagger.
During junior year, some of us learned that Rick had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the prevalent ethos of the time, he seemed to treat it rather casually, always making the difficult seem easy.
After graduating cum laude, Rick attended Boston University law school and had a successful career as a senior corporate attorney in the banking and telecom industries. Another of our Chi Phi roommates, Greg Schermer ’76, had the pleasure of working with Rick later in life, negotiating a patent license. Rick was also active in the Boulder community as a board member for nonprofit institutions.
Rick is survived by his wife of 35 years, Jaclyn; his children, Rhett and Alexandra; a brother, Hal ’74; two sisters; and eight nieces and nephews. “I have been blessed with an amazingly wonderful life,” he told a friend the summer before he died, “one that has a few people who deeply care about me and about whom I care deeply—what more can a person really ask for?”
—Dan Lundquist ’76 and Al Greene ’76
Gregory Ratté ’83
Gregory Emmet Ratté passed away at his home in Honolulu on Oct. 25. He was a proud father; a beloved son, brother, uncle and friend; and an experienced investment manager with more than 30 years of service to his clients in Hartford, New York City and Honolulu. In 1985, he married Junko Kaneda, with whom he had four children, Alexander, Stephanie, Fred and Emily ’18. Greg and Junko moved with the children to Honolulu in 2001. Their marriage ended in divorce in 2012.
Greg grew up in Amherst; attended the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn.; and graduated with honors from Amherst. Greg rowed crew all four years at Amherst and was a member of Delta Upsilon Delta. He completed a graduate business program at the Japan-America Institute of Management Sciences of Sophia University in Tokyo. His career was in asset management, in a variety of companies, including his own, G.E. Ratté Asset Management.
Greg was a lover of opera and served on the boards of both the Hawaii Opera Theatre and the Hawaii Symphony Foundation. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved hiking, whitewater canoeing, kayaking in the Pacific, running up Diamond Head and playing golf with his friends. To the distress of his immediate family, he became a Yankees fan when he moved to New York, although he was born in Boston. Happily, he remained a Patriots fan his entire life.
Greg is survived by his parents, Lou and John; his former wife, Junko; his siblings, Christopher, Catherine and Felicity; four children, Alexander, Stephanie, Fred and Emily ’18; two sons-in-law, Joshua Francis-Ratté and Mitch Moranis; and his fiancée, Kelley Tice. —John Ratté P’83
Paul K. Bilson ’90
Paul Kwesi Bilson, best friend and bon vivant, passed away in Kumasi, Ghana, on Oct. 4 after a long illness.
Paul was born in Kumasi on Aug. 18, 1968, to John and Marion Bilson. Paul’s Ghanaian father was a physician, businessman and politician; his American mother is a former journalist. His family moved to Syracuse, N.Y., when he was 5, and in 1986, he graduated from Bishop Grimes High School, where he excelled at tennis and debating.
Upon arriving at Amherst, Paul immediately collected an outrageously diverse group of friends, though, as his former partner Bill O’Brien observed, he sometimes felt “too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids.” Paul graduated with a degree in English, cum laude, his thesis project including a black-and- white film envisioning the world he would come to create around him: multi-ethnic, art manifested in couture and movement, club music thumping around us.
Though he had been offered a position with a film company in Los Angeles upon graduation, Paul chose to move to New York to stay near family and pursue his obsession with fashion. After positions at Bloomingdale’s and Island Trading Co., he turned his attention to fine art, eventually cofounding an art licensing firm with his partner, in business and in life, Ryan Jensen.
Paul’s pride in being an Amherst alum was as infectious as it was fierce. He’s kept dozens of us close for 30 years by the sheer joy he radiated recalling how we’d all met, a joy that infused all his friendships.
Paul is survived by the mother he adored; his siblings, John David, Gretchen and Carol; his beloved nieces and nephews; Ryan; Bill; and the army of best friends he established in all corners of the world. —Adam Blackburn ’91
Kathleen Ward Knox ’91
Kathleen Ward Knox passed away peacefully of rupture of an aortic aneurysm at her family home in New Canaan, Conn., on Oct. 30.
Kathy will be remembered for so many things: her snappy wit, keen intellect, great writing, head-tossed-back laughing, incredible fashion sense, memory like a steel trap. More than anything, Kathy was—despite a frail appearance—phenomenally tough.
Kathy completed a master’s in journalism at the University of Michigan. Then, fed up with “the moon boots and the snow,” she moved to San Francisco’s Fillmore Street neighborhood, where she lived with a series of guide dogs for 23 years.
She held various jobs in the public and nonprofit sector in the Bay Area and wrote and spoke publicly to advocate for people with disabilities. She also served for five years on the Public Transportation Commission of the City and County of San Francisco and was a long-term member of the Board of Directors of the Light-House for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
She lived life to the fullest in San Francisco, attending musical and literary events, contributing to writing groups and building up a huge network of friends and colleagues.
Kathy had an extremely rare genetic connective tissue disorder. In addition to vision loss from retinal detachment, she developed an aortic aneurysm. After multiple major operations over the years, Kathy made a conscious decision in 2018 against further surgical attempts to shore up her aorta.
Kathy turned 50 on July 15 and celebrated her life with friends and family at gatherings in both New Canaan and San Francisco.
She is survived by her father and stepmother, Barry and Christine Knox; and her retired guide dog, Gage. Her mother, Doris Ward Knox, and her brother, Michael, predeceased her. —Rebecca Poage ’91