Robert L. Davidson '52

Bob Davidson, aged seventy nine, died on March 19, 2006, of complications from pneumonia.  He was one of the few veterans in our Class.  Born in Newark, NJ, he graduated from Bulkeley High School in New London, CT.  He spent his business career commuting from Westport to New York City, where he was an assistant vice president and bank manager of First National Citibank.  After retiring in 1983, he worked with the US Postal Service.

I particularly remember Bob Davidson as the talented Amherst College quarterback who led the Jeffs to a 4-3-1 record in 1950, the first Amherst season for new coach, John McLaughry.  During that year, Bob completed forty seven out of ninety six passes, for 787 yards, with eight touchdowns.  There were only four interceptions.  

A great competitor at 5 ft. 8 in. and 145 lbs. (small even in 1951!), Bob was unquestionably the key player on the 1951 team (which I captained) and had a stellar season.  The preseason opened with great optimism.  Unfortunately, the team suffered devastating losses, with Hank McDonald, 1950 leading scorer (154 points) and ground gainer (529 yards in 133 carries), out for the season, and with serious injuries to Nick Evans and Chuck Biermann.  The most crippling loss was the call back of line coach, Art Young (former Dartmouth star) into the Marines (Korean War), who had inspired the line in 1950.

The first game was against Colby on September 26, which Amherst won 20-13, with touchdown passes of forty and thirty three yards. by Davidson.  The team then went straight downhill, losing to Rochester, tying Wesleyan by an improbable 21-21 score, beating Tufts, and being whomped by Trinity (40-27) and Williams (40-6).  During this season, Bob was a brilliant passer and field general.  A column in November 1951 Amherst Student was headed “Davidson, Richardson Shine in Dark Grid Season.”  The paper also reported, “As in every game this year, Bob Davidson bore the full burden of the Jeff’s attack.  How much of the offense he carried is evident by his 1951 passing accomplishments:  seventy three completions of 150 tosses for 1,096 yards and ten touchdowns—a new Amherst record.  His aerials accounted for almost two-thirds of Amherst’s total offensive gains of 1,827 yds.”  Bob’s principal target was sophomore end Jim Richardson, who caught forty two passes for 541 yards and six touchdowns, also a new College record.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the rest of the team had performed as well as Bob, the 1951 season would have been very successful.

Our most sincere sympathies to Bob’s wife, Jo Ann (Smith ’52), and to his children John, of Yardley, PA; Betsy of West Redding, CT; and Sam of Newport, OR.

—Jim Lyon ’52