Deceased August 24, 2020

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In Memory

Our class lost a special member when Ed Todd died on Aug. 24, 2020, preceded by Dorothy. The son of Irish immigrants, Ed grew up on the South Side of Chicago and became a patternmaker, a highly skilled tradesman who turned drawings into wooden prototypes. Ed was earning $9,000 a year when he applied to Amherst in 1957. His arrival in September was delayed because he became draft-eligible when he resigned as a patternmaker, so Ed didn’t report for active duty at Amherst until February 1958. He was a friendly bear of a guy, five years older than the rest of us and challenged by an academic curriculum for which he was ill prepared but in which he came to excel. Ed was calm and mature. He was comfortable in his own skin.

Ed left patternmaking because he believed in education. He succeeded at Amherst and went on to assume teaching and administrative positions at the Rochester Institute of Technology, then becoming provost and president during a period of extraordinary growth of the SUNY College at Old Westbury. After 25 years of administration, he returned to teaching.

During my 15 years on Long Island, Ed and Dorothy and I became good friends. Ed credited his demeanor and ready laugh as useful in dealing with the issues he faced leading major universities. “Staying busy, given my heart as a patternmaker, I remain committed to craftsmanship as a practicing woodsmith,” he said. He built extensions on their house and made furniture. “I keep the Missus and seven grandchildren happy with the output.” He said he enjoyed a beer, good friends, hearing Bach and Mozart, sitting on the beach, and especially reading and learning new ideas and skills. “I have had a privileged, a good, a useful and a lucky life,” he said.

—Charley Updike ’61