Roy Jay Marshall, Jr. ’40, for 36 years an industrial engineer with Eastman Kodak Co., was born on April 8, 1918, in Rome, NY. His parents were Roy J., a physician, and Frances McCarthy Marshall. He prepared for college at St. Aloysius Academy in Rome and came to the Hill in 1936. A member of Lambda Chi Alpha, he concentrated in chemistry and biology, and earned his B.S. degree in 1940.
Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, Roy Marshall was assigned to hospital duty with the Army Medical Corps. He was stationed at Camp Patrick Henry in Virginia where he helped tend those evacuated to its hospital from North Africa and Italy after being wounded in World War II engagements.
After discharge from the Army, Roy Marshall went to work for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY. There, in 1946, he was married to Ora M. Heary, who was also employed by the photography firm. As one of its industrial engineers, Roy Marshall installed and maintained incentive systems, organized computer networks, engaged in production engineering, and undertook special assignments requiring considerable travel to Eastman Kodak and other plants throughout the country. In 1979, he retired and took up residence on 3.6 acres in Webster, NY, on the shores of Lake Ontario. There he enjoyed vegetable and flower gardening, collecting pre-1940 U.S. stamps, and indulging in an occasional Bass Ale.
Roy. J. Marshall, Jr., long afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and confined to a nursing home in recent years, was residing in Rochester when he died on March 15, 2009, in his 91st year. Predeceased by his wife, he is survived by nieces and nephews.
Anthony Kenneth Pomilio ’42, the first and longest serving Family Court judge in his native Oneida County, NY, grew up in the city of Rome, where he was born on August 23, 1920. One of seven children of Italian immigrant parents, Mercurio and Liberata Sticca Pomilio, both factory workers, “Tony” Pomilio excelled academically at Rome Free Academy, where he was graduated in 1938. He came to College Hill on scholarship that year and soon made his mark in both journalism and debate. He served on the staff of Hamilton Life and as photography editor of The Hamiltonian. A member of the Press Board, he gained election to the journalism honorary Pi Delta Epsilon. His debating skills also earned him membership in the forensics honorary Delta Sigma Rho. Active in the Newman Club and a member of the Interfraternity Council as president of the Squires Club, he was described by The Hamiltonian as one who “takes his many jobs seriously.” That would remain true throughout his long and distinguished career of public service.
After his graduation in 1942 with honors in economics, Tony Pomilio had no doubt, with U.S. entry into World War II, that military service lay ahead. He pursued graduate work in public administration at the University of Cincinnati until his induction into the Army in 1943. He spent the remainder of the war mostly stateside, including two years as an interpreter for Italian prisoners of war. One of his last assignments was escorting a group of them on repatriation back to Italy. Discharged from the Army as a sergeant in 1946, he considered various vocational choices and ultimately settled on the law.
Tony Pomilio acquired his LL.B. degree from Cornell Law School in 1948 and promptly returned to his hometown of Rome to begin his private practice. He also decided to enter local Republican politics and was elected in 1951 to a two-year term as president of Rome’s Common Council. When the part-time position of special county judge in charge of the Children’s Court became vacant in 1954, he was appointed to fill it on an interim basis by Governor Thomas E. Dewey. It marked the beginning of his 36-year career on the bench.
Soon elected to a six-year term and reelected in 1960, Judge Pomilio began serving full time in 1962 when the Children’s Court became the Family Court. He was three times reelected to 10-year terms without opposition, and only left the bench at the end of 1990, when he had reached the statutory retirement age of 70. He was then the longest serving Family Court judge in the state.
As judge of the Family Court, Anthony Pomilio had the difficult task of playing Solomon with young lives at stake while trying to protect both the interests of the child and the welfare of the community. The task did not become easier as the cases handled grew from 826 in 1964 to 8,400 by the time he retired, despite a steady decline in the county’s population. With fairness but firmness and always with compassionate understanding, he adjudicated difficult child custody cases and visitation rights, winning the respect of the litigants and the admiration of his professional peers. A former supervising judge for family courts in five counties and past president of the state’s Association of Judges of Family Court, he left the bench with high honor and plaudits for his devotion to the pursuit of justice for children and families, as well as for his commitment to community service.
That commitment was reflected in numerous offices Judge Pomilio held in his community over the years, including president of the Jervis Public Library Association and the Optimist Club of Rome. He also served on the boards of the Rome Bureau of Family Services, the Family Service in Utica, and the Rome United Way. In addition, he was a former member of the Herkimer-Oneida Counties Crime Control Advisory Board and a director of the Rome Historical Society and the Community Concert Association. An active communicant of St. John the Baptist Church, he served it as a lector and eucharistic minister. He was a past president of St. John’s Holy Name Society and a past grand knight of the Knights of Columbus.
Through the years, Judge Pomilio received many awards and other forms of recognition for his achievements. Beginning with the Outstanding Young Man of the Year award from the Rome Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1955, they included the Medal of 1777 from the Rome Historical Society in 1998 and the Hugh R. Jones Award from the Oneida County Bar Association in 1999.
The Hon. Anthony K. Pomilio, an ardently loyal alumnus, president of his Hamilton class, and for many years class correspondent for this magazine, could often be seen on campus, especially during his retirement years while living in Clinton. He was again residing in Rome, however, when he died on November 23, 2010. Predeceased in 1994 by his wife, the former Nancy E. Panebianco, whom he had wed on July 11, 1959, in Canastota, NY, he is survived by a daughter, Mary Faith Messenger; twin sons Luke A. and Christopher A. Pomilio; and four grandchildren and a brother.
Robert Stephen Scheu ’42, former president and chief executive officer of Marine Midland Trust Co. of Western New York and a onetime trustee of the College, grew up in Buffalo, NY, where he was born on September 3, 1920. A son of Edward M., an investment broker, and Marguerite Stone Scheu, he prepared for college at Nichols School in Buffalo, where he captained the hockey team. He enrolled at Hamilton in 1938, joined Sigma Phi, and played hockey and ran track. Elected to DT, he left the Hill after three semesters and later pursued studies at the University of Buffalo and Babson College of Business Administration.
“Bob” Scheu, who enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Second World War in 1942, obtained an officer’s commission and commanded a Coast Guard cutter in the North Atlantic and in the European theater. He was awarded the Bronze Star for rescue work during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Released from active duty as a commander in 1945, he returned to Buffalo and began his career in finance with the investment brokerage firm of Vietor, Common, Dann & Co. In 1954, after six years with S.C. Parker & Co., specializing in corporate finance, he embarked on his long and highly successful career in banking by joining what was then the Marine Trust Co. of Western New York.
In 1957, Bob Scheu established the bank’s investment management department. Four years later he became executive assistant to the president, and in 1962 he was appointed as the 16th president of the bank, then the largest in the state outside of the New York City area. Named CEO and chairman of the executive committee of Marine Midland in 1968, he became executive vice president of Marine Midland Banks, the statewide holding company, a year later. He retired in 1974.
Prominent in the community, Bob Scheu chaired the board of trustees of Buffalo General Hospital and served as general chairman of the United Fund of Buffalo and Erie County. He was also president of the board of the Westminster Presbyterian Church. In addition, he served for 15 years on the board of Nichols School and was for many years president of the Buffalo-based James H. Cummings Foundation as well as a director of several other educational and philanthropic foundations. He was an alumni trustee of Hamilton from 1966 to 1972.
Having grown up by the water at his family’s summer home at Point Abino, Ontario, Bob Scheu became an ardent sailor. As a yachtsman he competed in numerous races on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario as well as several races from Newport to Bermuda and two transatlantic races from Bermuda to Scandinavia.
In 1983, Bob Scheu and his wife, the former Martha Smith, whom he had married in 1945, moved to Virginia. They took up residence in Kilmarnock, on Chesapeake Bay, where Bob continued his active involvement in community affairs. He was still residing in Kilmarnock when he died on February 3, 2011, at age 90. Predeceased by his wife of 61 years in 2006 and by his son, Christopher C. Scheu ’79, in 1985, he is survived by two sons, Donald S. and Stephen E. Scheu; a daughter, Susan Woodworth; and nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and a sister.
Robert Newton Small ’43, retired president and chief executive officer of Smith & Caffrey Steel Corp., a Syracuse, NY, manufacturing company, was born in that city on January 19, 1921. The son of George A. and Edith Willson Small, he grew up in Syracuse, became an Eagle Scout, and was graduated in 1939 from Syracuse Central High School. Bob Small entered Hamilton that fall, joined Psi Upsilon, and served as its pledge chairman in his senior year. He also played varsity football and lettered in hockey. Elected to Quadrangle and DT, and a member of the Intramural Council, “the best dressed man in the Psi U house” was awarded his B.S. degree in January 1943, thanks to a wartime accelerated program.
The following month, Bob Small went on active duty with the U.S. Army Air Corps, and served with the Office of Flying Safety in Oakland, CA, through the end of World War II. Discharged as a sergeant in 1946, he returned to Syracuse and found employment with Smith & Caffrey where he had worked as an office boy one summer during high school, and where his father was company treasurer. He began as a shop ironworker in the company, a fabricator of steel for the construction industry, which had been founded in 1894. After gaining engineering and estimating experience, he moved into sales and later into general management, becoming vice president and eventually president and CEO as well as the company’s owner.
Bob Small, a former director of the American Institute of Steel Construction, also served on the boards of numerous community organizations such as the Citizens Foundation, and chaired the board of Park Central Church. His leisure-time pleasures included skiing in Vermont and golfing and beach-walking in Florida. Known for his ready wit, he was also an enthusiastic cook and “would-be architect who loved designing and building houses.”
Having retired in the late 1980s, Bob Small soon took up full-time residence in Naples, FL, where he and his wife Ginny had maintained a winter home and were active in the community since 1976. A former president of the Syracuse Alumni Association and regional chairman of the Alumni Fund, he remained in close touch with Hamilton as one of its most enthusiastic and generous supporters. Among his family’s benefactions to the College is the Merritt N. Willson Memorial Scholarship, named for his grandfather.
Robert N. Small died in Naples on February 2, 2011, two weeks after his 90th birthday. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Virginia (Ginny) Grace, a graduate of Wells College whom he had married on September 9, 1950, in Chicago, IL. Also surviving are two sons, Stephen C. ’73 and George R. Small, and grandsons Christopher J. and Andrew J. Small ’08, as well as a sister.
John Edward Hunt ’45, an attorney-at-law who practiced in Utica, NY, for 40 years, was born in nearby Rome on September 1, 1923. The only child of Ransom M. and Irma Wolf Hunt, he came up to College Hill from Utica Free Academy in 1941. While on the Hill he was active in debate and gained election to the forensic honorary society Delta Sigma Rho. A member of the Emerson Literary Society, he left the College in early 1943 when called to active duty with the U.S. Army Air Corps. He served with weather units through the end of World War II and attained the rank of sergeant.
John Hunt returned to College Hill for one more semester of study in the spring of 1946. Thereafter he entered Albany Law School in pursuit of his longstanding dream of becoming a lawyer. After securing his LL.B. degree in 1948, he established his practice in Utica. He also took an active part in Republican Party politics and was a candidate in 1950 for justice of the peace. He later joined Kernan & Kernan, a well established law firm in Utica, and became a partner in the firm as well as its president.
Having gained distinction and the high respect of his colleagues as a trial attorney, John Hunt was elected in 1974 to the American College of Trial Attorneys of New York State. Also elected president of the Oneida County Bar Association, he continued to serve his community in various ways, ranging from Little League baseball coach and volunteer for the Utica United Way to attorney for the New Hartford Central School Board.
In 1988, following his retirement from Kernan & Kernan, John Hunt moved from New Hartford to Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, NC. There he enjoyed playing tennis and golf, occasionally handicapping “the ponies,” and keeping in close touch with his large and ever growing family. Within the family and among close friends he was particularly known and appreciated for his talent as a storyteller and for his dry wit.
John E. Hunt died at his home in North Carolina on April 19, 2011. He is survived by his wife, the former Janice E. Madden, whom he had married on June 16, 1951, in New Hartford. He also leaves four sons, Richard D., James G., Geoffery E., and Robert A. Hunt; two daughters, Virginia L. Hunt and Constance H. Dirvin, wife of David V. Dirvin ’84; and 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Robert William James Russell ’45, Litt.D. (Hon.) ’63, the Charles A. Dana Emeritus Professor of English at Franklin and Marshall College, who defied blindness to become a distinguished teacher, was born on December 30, 1924, in Binghamton, NY. The youngest of seven children of James J., a haberdasher, and May Clark Russell, he lost his sight in one eye in an accident at the age of 5, and soon became blind in the other as well. Sent for his education to the New York Institute for the Blind, he remained there for 10 years until 1941 when, still only 16 years old, he arrived on the Hill as the first blind student ever to enroll at Hamilton. With his firm belief that “blindness is a handicap only insofar as you make it one,” Bob Russell set about overcoming initial disorientation and confusion brought on by a new environment. With the help of Braille and his roommates as “readers,” he coped academically while at the same time learning to navigate around the red-shale paths of the campus. A member of Lambda Chi Alpha and the Honor Court, he kept in shape by swimming in the then new Alumni Gym pool.
At the end of his sophomore year in 1942, when the civilian students on the Hill had been reduced to 30 or so in number because of World War II, and readers were difficult to obtain, he decided to transfer to Yale University. There he acquired his A.B. degree in 1945 and an M.A. in English literature a year later. While at Yale, he also had the opportunity to wrestle, a sport that he had excelled in at the Institute for the Blind. He competed as a member of Yale’s varsity squad, and years later his lifelong contributions to the sport would be recognized by his election into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as well as the awarding in 2000 of its Medal of Courage.
After Yale and a two-year stint teaching at Harpur College back in Binghamton, Bob Russell, with the help of a Rotary International fellowship and two successive Fulbright fellowships, pursued English studies at Oxford University. While there, he met a young Englishwoman and fellow graduate student, Elizabeth Shaw. They were married on March 23, 1951, in Oxford, the same year that Bob received his B.Litt. degree. Back in the United States with his wife, their first child, and no job, he was fortunately called after a time to teach English composition at Shimer College in Illinois. Three years later, in 1955, he began his long tenure at Franklin and Marshall.
As an assistant professor, he taught courses in creative writing and chaired the college’s English department for eight years beginning in 1965. Besides being an inspiring, if demanding, teacher who received the college’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, he became a noted memoirist. His reminiscences, To Catch an Angle: Adventures in the World I Cannot See, was published in 1962. An account of his indomitable determination to surmount his blindness, it soon achieved best-seller status and was translated into 32 languages. A year later, saluting his achievements, “not for the themselves alone but for the determined spirit and invincible will that made them possible,” Hamilton awarded him an honorary doctorate.
Bob Russell, also the author of a novel, An Act of Loving (1967), as well as a second autobiographical work, The Island (1973), retired from Franklin and Marshall after 35 years in 1990. He continued to reside in Lancaster, PA, while customarily spending summers at his seasonal home on Hay Island in the St. Lawrence River.
Robert W. Russell died on April 1, 2011, at a hospice near Lancaster, after a long bout with cancer. Predeceased by his wife Elizabeth in 2005, he is survived by his second wife, Jane Creed Donaldson Russell. Also surviving are his sons, Richard G., Mark R., and James A Russell; his daughter, Miranda E. Russell; and six grandchildren and a brother.
Louis Edwin Baer ’46, who taught social sciences in California high schools for 34 years, was born on September 25, 1924, in Corry, PA. Adopted when he was a year old by Leonard A., an office supply company owner, and Alverna Gruber Baer, a high school teacher, Louis Baer grew up in Canton, OH, where he was graduated in 1942 from Lehman High School. He came to College Hill for the summer session that year, and remained at Hamilton through the fall semester. A member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and the Choir, he withdrew after enlisting in the U.S. Army Corps in the midst of World War II.
After basic training, Louis Baer was assigned to an anti-submarine command. He later volunteered for overseas duty and was posted while in Britain to the U.S. Military Government being set up for occupied Germany. Stationed in London, he survived the German V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks in the wake of the Normandy invasion and arrived in Berlin via France a month after Germany’s surrender. He was one of the first Americans to enter the city after it fell to the Russians. Employed in the Military Government’s financial and political divisions, he was released from active duty in 1946, after the war’s end.
Louis Baer returned to his home state to take up studies at Ohio State University. There he earned a B.A. in 1948 and an M.A. in history in 1949. He stayed on to complete course work for a Ph. D., but never finished requirements for the degree. Instead, he spent a year (1951-52) as a civilian historian at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, followed by freelance writing. He began his teaching career in New Jersey but moved after three years to California where, on November 28, 1957, he was married to Evaree Walters in Glendale. After two years of teaching in Monrovia, he joined the faculty of Ramona High School in Riverside, where he would teach until his retirement in 1990.
In retirement, Louis Baer pursued his hobby of stamp collecting and took on a new one, drawing. He also enjoyed return travels to Europe, especially visiting World War II sites. During the 1990s he designed and paid for a small memorial near Sloane Square in London, which commemorated the 76 American GIs who had been killed in a V-1 raid on July 3, 1944. He himself had missed being in Sloane Square during that raid by a matter of minutes.
In addition, Louis Baer utilized his retirement to compose poetry for children. Two of his books of verse, inspired by and dedicated to his grandchildren, were published as Pity Poor Dragons (2001) and Zero is My Hero (2003). A third book, Twisted Classics: A Modern Look at Old Beloved Poems, and intended for adults, was published in 2006. All were leavened with his self-confessed “wicked sense of humor,” and characteristically satirical edge.
Louis E. Baer was still residing in Riverside when he died on April 2, 2011. Divorced from his wife in 1974, he is survived by two daughters, Virginia Buroker and Lisa Plumb; a son, Walter L. Baer; and nine grandchildren.
Robert Hayes Booher ’46, a former lumber company owner, grew up in Syracuse, NY, where he was born on April 30, 1924. The son of Hayes M. and Edna Brooks Booher, he came to Hamilton from Onondaga Valley Academy in Syracuse in 1942. He joined Delta Kappa Epsilon and remained on the Hill for just a semester.
Bob Booher subsequently entered the U.S. Navy and served as a torpedo bomber pilot during World War II. After the war he entered his family’s business, Booher Lumber Co., founded by his father, whom he succeeded as owner and president. In 1973, with his two sons, he established B&B Lumber Co. in the Syracuse suburb of Jamesville, and served as its president until his retirement. Formerly a resident of LaFayette, NY, south of Syracuse, he had been living in Citrus County, FL, in recent years.
Robert H. Booher died in Citrus County on March 3, 2011. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dorotha White Booher. Also surviving are his sons, Gary R. and Jeffrey H. Booher; a daughter, Martha Smith; and 12 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.
Bruce Harold Stearns ’47, a retired United Methodist minister who had preached in the church’s central New York Conference for more than 40 years, was born in Syracuse, NY, on June 11, 1922. A son of Harold G., also a Methodist minister, and Ruth Sampson Stearns, he attended Syracuse University for two years following preparation at Elmira Free Academy. He left college in 1943 to enter the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve pilot training program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He co-piloted a B-24 with the 15th Air Force’s 450th Bombardment Group in the European theater during World War II, and flew five missions over Italy.
Discharged from active duty shortly after the war’s end in 1945, Bruce Stearns decided not to return to Syracuse but rather finish his studies at a smaller school, one where he had a better chance to play sports and where “the waiting lines would not be as long as those in the military.” He arrived on College Hill from Geneva, NY, in the fall of 1945 and became a member of Alpha Delta Phi. He also sang in the Choir and played tackle on the newly revived varsity football team in 1946.
Already having decided to follow his father and grandfather into the ministry, Bruce Stearns enrolled at Union Theological Seminary after leaving the Hill with his A.B. degree in 1947. By the time he had acquired his B.D. degree in 1950, he was serving as pastor of Fishkill (NY) Methodist Church. In 1960, after stints as assistant pastor in Elmira and pastor in Coudersport, PA, he was called to the First Methodist Church in Buffalo. While there, he obtained a master’s in humanities from the University of Buffalo in 1966. He later served as pastor of the Park Methodist Church in Hornell and Wesley United Methodist Church in Niagara Falls. After that church was closed in 1981, due to the toxic waste level at the nearby, now notorious Love Canal, he was reassigned to Windsor, VT. He retired in 1989 to his boyhood home in Elmira. Always enthusiastic about sports, both as a participant and spectator, he especially enjoyed golf. He also loved music, played the flute and guitar, and sang in a barbershop chorus.
The Rev. Bruce H. Stearns was residing in Rochester, NY, when he died on March 6, 2011. He was predeceased in 2002 by his wife, the former Faye Jackson, whom he had wed on February 10, 1951, in Mt. Holly, NJ. Surviving are two daughters Pamela Shaw and Susan Gardner; a son, Dennis B. Stearns; and nine grandchildren, two sisters, and a brother.
William Ferguson Kellerhals ’48, a retired education administrator, was born on February 4, 1924, in Newark, NJ. A son of Marcel E., a railroad conductor, and Virginia O’Donnell Kellerhals, he was graduated in 1942 from St. Ann’s Academy for Boys in New York City. Soon thereafter he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and served as a radio technician in the European theater during World War II. He took part in the Battle of the Bulge, was awarded five battle stars, and was present at the Buchenwald concentration camp a few days after its survivors were liberated.
Discharged as a staff sergeant after the war’s end in 1945, Bill Kellerhals enrolled at Hamilton in the spring of 1946. He joined Theta Delta Chi, and when campus radio station WHC was revived in the aftermath of the war that year, he became its chief engineer. On June 8, 1946, he and Ernestine Vilsack were married, and the couple took up residence in the North Village. Planning a career in education, Bill did his practice teaching in English at Clinton Central School. Described by The Hamiltonian as “a friend to everyone on campus,” he left the College with his A.B. degree in 1948.
That year, Bill Kellerhals joined the faculty of Constableville Central School, north of Rome, NY, where he continued to teach social studies for 14 years. He also served as a guidance counselor and as vice-principal of the school from 1953 to 1961. In 1960, he acquired an M.A. degree in guidance and counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University, and in 1962 he was appointed supervisory principal of Port Leyden Central School, in Lewis County, near Boonville, NY. In 1968, he became head of pupil personnel services at South Lewis Central Schools and the following year was named assistant district superintendent for Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), which provided special education programs to schools in the five counties.
Bill Kellerhals retired from BOCES in 1979, only to take a new, part-time position as executive secretary of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce. He retained that post, as well as a second part-time position as clerk of the Village of Port Leyden, until his second retirement in 1986. That year, he moved to Youngsville, NC, in the Raleigh-Durham area, to be close to many of his children. Previously village clerk of Constable, he had taken an active part in community affairs wherever he happened to reside. He had chaired the Lewis County Community Services Board, served as president of the South Lewis Lions Club, and, a strong advocate for children with special needs, was a member of the Lewis County Social Welfare Advisory Committee and the Mental Health Board. In addition, he was an active communicant of the Roman Catholic Church.
William F. Kellerhals, a devoted alumnus, died in North Carolina on May 14, 2011. Predeceased by his wife, he is survived by five sons, William F., Jr. ’70, Philip, Luke, Mark, and Matthew Kellerhals; two daughters, Anne Bailey and Jane Kellerhals; and nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Robert Emil Backman ’49, an expert on handwriting analysis, was born on November 13, 1917, in Wallace, ID. The son of Emil J., a barber, and Anna Cecilia Hendricksen Backman, he grew up in Spokane, WA, where he was graduated in 1936 from North Central High School. He came to College Hill in the fall of 1946, after three years of service in the U.S. Army during World War II, and remained on the Hill, continuing to take courses through the spring of 1949.
Robert Backman had begun to collect books and articles on handwriting analysis in 1937 and taught handwriting analysis while in military service with the Army Intelligence Corps. When he was at Hamilton and subsequently while residing in nearby New Hartford, he frequently spoke on the subject to organizations in the Utica and Rome area. By that time his collection had grown to 17,500 items. A records officer and research documents librarian at Rome Air Development Center from 1951 to 1957, he also became an authority on forged or at least questionable documents, and lectured on that subject as well. He later resided in Massachusetts where he was a research consultant to the National Association of Handwriting Analysts. There, in Greenfield, he created and became curator of the Handwriting Analysis Research Library, the only library of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. It was formed from his own collection, which by then consisted of more than 25,000 items.
Robert E. Backman was still residing in Greenfield when he died on April 6, 2009, at the age of 91, leaving his wife, Joanne Garland Backman. The College has no information on other survivors, although records indicate that he had a daughter, Roberta Anne, by his first marriage, to Elizabeth J. Jones in 1938, and a daughter, Susan, and three sons, Keith, John, and Donald, by his second marriage, to Mary C. Fox in 1945.
Peter Michael Falk ’49, the stage and screen actor who achieved fame as the disheveled but crafty TV detective, Lt. Columbo, was born on September 16, 1927, in New York City. He was the son of Michael and Madeline Hauser Falk, who ran a small clothing store in Ossining, NY. Peter Falk grew up in Ossining and was graduated in 1945 from Ossining High School. He came to Hamilton for the summer session that year, but left when it ended to join the Merchant Marine, in which he served for 18 months as a cook. He returned to College Hill in the fall of 1946 and became a member of the Squires Club. While on the Hill he took part in two Charlatans productions, as “an English solider” in Shaw’s Saint Joan and as Adrian in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He remained at Hamilton for two years until he withdrew “indefinitely” in June 1948.
Classmates remember Peter Falk as “the campus comic who found personal satisfaction in being different and capable of the unpredictable,” in the words of Half-Century Annalist Paul S. Langa ’48. Having lost his right eye to a malignant tumor at the age of 3, he had a glass eye, which would remain open when he happened to fall asleep in class, and which he would occasionally remove for dramatic effect, as classmates recall. It is evident that his persona, combined with a distinctive dramatic flair, made quite an impression on his contemporaries on the Hill.
Peter Falk, whose stay on the Hill was not entirely happy, in part because of the discriminatory social practices prevailing at the time, was never close to the College in later years. He went on to earn a B.A. degree in political science from the New School for Social Research in 1951. For his subsequent career, especially his distinguished career as an actor, the reader is referred to his obituary in The New York Times of June 25, 2011, published after his death in Beverly Hills, CA, on June 23.