Deceased November 26, 2017

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In Memory

Holcomb B. Noble—Hoc, to all who knew him—was a distinguished journalist. As science and health editor for the New York Times, he shared in two Pulitzer prizes—one on Star Wars, the other on the space shuttle Challenger. He authored dozens of other stories, including many on Lyme disease. In addition, he wrote obituaries of such notables as C. Everett Koop, Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith, often after having interviewed them in person. He also authored Next, the Coming Era in Medicine and Cheney’s War Crimes: The Reign of a De Facto President.

Music was an important part of Hoc’s life. He not only sang in the renowned University Glee Club of New York City but also was a trustee of the internationally acclaimed Young People’s Chorus of New York City. When Amherst groups visited him at his apartment, he would soon sit down at his piano and get everyone singing.

Hoc was an avid skier and an excellent tennis player. David Mermelstein ’55 can attest to his tennis prowess, having lost to him regularly, first near his earlier home in Pelham and then for many years at various courts in New York City after he moved there.

Hoc entered Amherst in the class of 1955, but since he spent his senior year in France, primarily skiing, so he once said, he graduated in 1956. Ever loyal to Amherst, he attended reunions of both classes and developed close friendships with members of each class, bringing them together in an enduring camaraderie.

He is survived by his first wife, Clue; their children, Carolyn and Jon “J.H.” Holcomb ’89; three grandchildren; and his second wife, Lindsay Davidson.

Hoc was spirited, youthful (navigating Manhattan on roller blades in his 60s), engaging, witty and thoughtful—a wonderful friend.

David Mermelstein ’55
Tom Spencer ’56