Deceased August 14, 2021

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In Memory

John Afton, who grew up in California but ended up in New York City, died Aug.14, just 12 days short of his 80th birthday.

Born in Cleveland, son of Frank G. Afton and Margaret Katherine Laun Afton, John moved to California as a child. He went to high school in Palo Alto and Santa Barbara. At Amherst, he played basketball and was on the crew team. He was a member of the Kappa Theta fraternity.

Bill Amend ’63 remembers being squeezed between John, “probably our tallest classmate,” and another big man, Jim Andrews ’63, during Arnie Arons’ “Introduction to Physics.” Rick Fried ’63, a fraternity brother, recalled John’s boisterous singing at house parties as he let off steam on the weekends after studying hard all week.  

John majored in economics, won a Harlan Fiske Stone prize, then returned west to pick up his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966. The next year, he joined a law firm in New York City, had an office on Park Avenue and served on the council of the New York Law Association.

John spent much of his career as a corporate lawyer in the mining industry, ending up as general counsel for the Zinc Corp. of America. For a couple of years, he worked for Avon Products, the cosmetics company, and at the prestigious Davis Polk & Wardwell firm in NYC.

Around 1994, John left the corporate law world and worked another 13 years as a lawyer on his own. He loved to take cruises and went on a number with his daughter Marissa.

In 2001 he began serving as an associate agent for the Amherst Fund and was still a volunteer for the College when he died.

Neale Adams ’63