A highly esteemed theatre, film, and television actor, William Roehrick was also an ardent champion of his alma mater, and especially of its Emerson Gallery. An admirer of beauty and those who create it, he was one of the organizers of Hamilton’s former Root Art Center. After the Emerson Gallery was established in 1982, he contributed many works to its collections and also took over the chairmanship of its Committee on the Visual Arts, helping to fashion it into the highly supportive and flourishing body that it is today.
A frequent visitor to the Hill, Bill Roehrick charmed everyone with his courtliness and geniality. He was a born raconteur who was seldom upstaged, and with his commanding presence and resonant voice, he could hold an audience firmly in his grip, whether on stage or off. Alumni attending Reunions in recent years were given dramatic demonstration of that talent in his rendering of Robert Barnes Rudd’s poetic tribute to Hamiltonians who had lost their lives in World War II, justly recalled as the emotional high point of many a Service of Remembrance.
Above all, Bill Roehrick came back to Hamilton time and again because he felt a great debt to the College. It was the place where Alexander Woollcott ’09 first saw Bill act in a student play, which set him on the path to a 60-year career in the theatre. In addition, Bill was inspired on the Hill to appreciate works of art through the teachings of another alumnus, Edward W. Root ’05. Thus, the two greatest passions of Bill Roehrick’s life, acting and art, were stimulated here, and until his death last fall, he continued to express his gratitude to Hamilton in many generous ways, to the lasting benefit of the college community.
Citation presented by
Alumni Association President
June 1, 1996