Our human family

I enjoyed reading “Finding Refuge” (Spring 2014), about Adrie Kusserow ’88’s humanitarian and educational work. While Amherst equips students for so many things, like making lots of money, I appreciated learning about a life of consequence and am inspired by Kusserow’s work to make us aware of the human family we’re part of on this diverse earth.

Martha Schumann Cooper ’95
Gila, N.M.

Succumbing to politics

The Spring 2014 profile of Tom Davis ’71 (“The Prince of Bipartisan Politics”) favorably portrays the congressman as a moderate Republican with a bipartisan bent. I am not intimately familiar with his overall voting record but remember well his deplorable leadership role in the notorious Terri Schiavo matter in 2005.

Ms. Schiavo sustained a cardiac arrest at home in 1990, leading to coma and persistent vegetative state. She was maintained on life support over the next 15 years with a prolonged legal battle between her husband (legal guardian) and parents, with the former wanting to remove life support in accordance with her orally expressed wishes and the parents opposed. Expert neurological opinion indicated no hope of recovery, and an MRI showed no functioning cerebral cortex (subsequently confirmed at autopsy).

Despite multiple rulings in Florida courts in favor of the husband, in 2005 Congress chose to intervene and passed legislation giving federal courts jurisdiction in the hope that life support would be resumed. Federal court rulings again favored the husband; Ms. Schiavo died shortly thereafter.

It was distressing at the time to see an intelligent, presumably scientifically literate Amherst graduate ignore the science in the case and succumb to the politics of the right-to-lifers who were having a field day. Congressman, I know you had lots of company, most notably Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a physician who surely knew better, but we have high expectations for Amherst graduates. This unfortunate episode was perhaps a harbinger of things to come: the widespread rejection of solid scientific data re. climate change, for example, for political reasons.

Congressman, I welcome your response.

Leonard R. Prosnitz ’57, M.D.
Chapel Hill, N.C.

An even better season

When I finally focused on the top photo on the Fall 2013 back cover (“Football Fans,” Then and Now) I realized that many of my fraternity brothers appeared. In reading the caption regarding 1962 being the best season in a decade, I couldn’t help but reflect on the even better results just two years later, when Amherst was undefeated and finished second in the Lambert Trophy standings.


McCashin’s piece of a 1964 goal post. When Amherst won the Little Three Championship, the goal posts didn’t stand a chance.

At the final game, after the Little Three Championship was cemented at home against Williams, the old wooden goal posts didn’t stand a chance, as demonstrated by the souvenir that I still possess. The full season record is painted on it.

Jim McCashin ’65
Pacific Palisades, Calif.

1968 rugby fans: you’re invited

The Amherst rugby team had an unprecedented season in spring 1968, going undefeated in 14 matches against powerhouses including Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Rutgers, Old Blue and a Bermudian all-star team.

The 1968 rugby team will celebrate that season at a cocktail/dinner reception during homecoming on Nov. 8, 2014. Given the strong following the team had on campus that season, we welcome participation by anyone with a connection to the 1968 team, whether player, fan or well-wisher.

Spring 1968 was a magical time at Amherst—nothing but sunny days in April and May. In contrast with societal turmoil (Vietnam, the draft, the civil rights movement), Amherst was an oasis.

That year Amherst rugby was ranked first in the East (Wisconsin was first in the Midwest and Stanford in the West). Joe Schell ’68 and John Kehoe ’70 were first-team All-Americans. There were more than 200 college teams in the country, and rugby was solely a spring sport, with no divisions. Nearly all college rugby teams were therefore dominated by football players. We faced Yale and Harvard players who later played in the famous 1968 Harvard-Yale football game (postgame Harvard Crimson headline: “Harvard beats Yale, 29–29”). Indeed, tiny Amherst played against Yale All-Ivy football players Bruce Weinstein (later of the NFL) and Glenn Greenberg.

We were most fortunate to have Australian Dale Toohey, a grad student at UMass, as our coach. It was his first coaching gig. In time Dale became a rugby icon, coaching arguably the most successful college rugby program ever at Long Beach State in California, as well as Australian and U.S. World Cup teams. He received many awards, including induction into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

Space at the reception is limited. To participate, contact me at rholloway@mhdpc.com or (978) 762–5802.

Bob Holloway ’68
Topsfield, Mass.

Sylvia Plath biography

I am seeking Amherst men from the classes of 1951–55 who knew or dated Sylvia Plath (Smith College ’55) to interview for a forthcoming biography of Plath (published by Knopf). Please contact me by email at clarkh@marlboro.edu or by phone at (774) 392–0086.

Heather Clark, Ph.D.
Professor of Literature
Marlboro College
Marlboro, Vt.