Deceased September 24, 2000

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In Memory

C. Brian Crosbie-Foote died on Sept. 24, 2000, at his home in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., after a 22-month long battle with brain cancer.

Those who knew Brian undoubtedly hold many vivid memories of him. My own memories center on a bright, caring person whose sense of humor masked a serious, more introspective side. I remember all too well streaking around the Amherst Commons together, carrying out “military” operations in the Quad our freshman year and the night he met his future wife—Holly—as we played table hockey in the foyer of Delta Upsilon. Equally vivid are the many nights he and I lay in our bunk beds sophomore year sharing our thoughts and problems. Others likewise recall a gentle and funny man. Joe McGinley ’78 reminded me that during our senior year Brian kept a live chicken in a social dorm room that he shared with Joe, Dave Sauerhoff ’78 and Joe Caligaris ’78. As Joe noted, “To top it off, Brian spent so much time with Holly that we always saw the chicken and never saw Brian! Thanks to Brian, it's hard for me to think of chicken with a straight face to this day ... and actually, it's hard to think of Brian with a straight face, too, a smile always wants to break out at the thought of him.”

In listening to Brian’s brother Dick eulogize his brother, I realized that Brian’s time at Amherst was a microcosm of his life. Brian’s love of learning and humor, his concern for others and his insistence on excellence in all one’s endeavors had been developed long before he arrived at Amherst. He was born and lived his youth in Vermont where he graduated from Middlebury Union High School as valedictorian in 1974. His success and love of academics was matched by athletic prowess. Brian loved all sports and athletics, excelling in football, basketball, track, water polo and lacrosse in high school. He was quarterback of his high school football team and captain of his basketball and track teams. At Amherst, he played freshman and intramural football and junior varsity lacrosse.

Brian was never afraid to go his own way and measured success in terms often lost in our credential-conscious world. After Amherst he worked in the trust departments of Manufacturers Hanover and Bank of New York. As a certified financial planner, Brian was later self-employed as a tax advisor and financial consultant. But his focus was always on his family, not his career. He married Holly Crosbie of Tarrytown, N.Y., in 1982 and was a loving father to their son Cory, 9, and daughter Hayley, 4. He took pleasure in his collection of antique clocks and toys, his culinary endeavors and, with Holly, enjoyed flower gardening and yard sales/antiquing of every kind.

Like us all, Brian had his faults. At Amherst and after, he would often internalize his problems and was reluctant to share the demons he battled. Even his battle with cancer came as a complete surprise to us all—news, knowing Brian, that he probably didn’t share so as not to burden others. Brian drifted at times, out of touch and seemingly unsure of his direction. For over a decade after graduation he communicated only infrequently with many of his closest friends at Amherst. But Brian was the type of person whom you could not have seen for years and feel as if you had just talked to him yesterday. That was how I felt when I last saw him in 1993 at our 15th class reunion. We reconnected and communicated for several years after, but then he dropped out of touch again … an ominous sign I now realize.

The core of an Amherst education has always been linked to formulating appropriate questions and seeking answers to those hard queries. With Brian’s death one cannot help asking why—why take one so young (43) and so giving? But apparently Brian never asked why—why him, why now? I suspect knowing Brian that he didn’t raise the question because he believed he would triumph over his cancer; but more importantly, his focus was always on others, not himself. So perhaps the question is not why Brian, but why not us? Maybe Brian’s courageous battle and untimely death are his final gift to us all. Both remind us of our mortality and drive home the need to appreciate all we have in this life. Both challenge us to make good use of our limited time on this earth to become better people and focus on helping others. It would be just like Brian to wage such a valiant struggle alone, seeking no special accolades and attributing no noble end to his sacrifices. This gentle, caring man will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

James “Chip” Marchio ’78