Bill Hamilton, Dinny Phipps - Remembrances

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  • Bill Boyer April 14, 2016 at 9:10 am

    In our freshman year, Bill and I were both assigned to the same AP English section, designed as a sophomore class for grounding potential English majors. It was an intense academic experience, as we dove right into the depths of the Faerie Queen, among five or six works considered staples of the major.

    I didn’t know Bill, but as the fall semester progressed, I noticed a tall, gawky student with dark, tousled hair and horn-rimmed glasses, answering questions from our young assistant professor more elegantly and maturely than the rest of us. I wondered: was this an upperclassman who had already taken the course, mastered the material, and was slumming with us freshmen?

    From my naïve, Midwestern perspective, Yale’s high expectations felt overwhelming. My freshman classes were like storm -driven ocean waves, tumbling and nearly drowning me, as I struggled, wave after wave, to get my footing and catch a breath.

    Unlike me, this lean, thoughtful fellow stood tall in the waves and began to teach the professor (and us), asking him questions he struggled to answer. Obviously, I concluded, here was a brilliant eastern prep school guy, far advanced beyond my simple Ohio mind. There was much to learn from him. Outside of this class, he seemed often lost in thought, aloof, not gregarious and I was unable either to establish a friendship or rid myself of his memory. For years after, this mental image emblemized for me the superiority of an eastern prep school education, in contrast to my own. (Of course, I was ignorant of Bill’s imagined inferiority as a Yale bursary student.)

    After Yale, although I enjoyed his exquisite, instructive drawings for years, it wasn’t until he co-hosted a grand mini-reunion in California that I discovered what a lovely, generous soul he was, unique in his brilliance and talents. He wasn’t the awkward genius of my memory, but a thoroughly affable fellow who communicated gracefully with his (formerly unknown) classmates, sharing his thoughts and dreams. What a revelation. I was still being educated by Bill Hamilton – first, in class; next, by his insightful public art and last, by his humanity — all, his gift to us.

  • Louis Mackall April 13, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Thank you for bringing this to the class’ attention. Very sad. I always remember the 25th (I think) reunion hat with Bill’s drawing of one of us tilting his (!) glasses to get a better look at that ’62.

  • Henry Holland April 13, 2016 at 8:09 am

    The passing of Bill Hamilton and Dinny Phipps in the same posting really brings our mortality home. I went to Deerfield with Dinny ( he was a great tennis and squash player) and was in the same club our senior year with Bill. Both were fine men and good friends. My best to their families.