Alumni Review — Fall - Winter 2012

Douglass Durston Fear ’35

Douglass Durston Fear ’35, who practiced surgery in Roanoke, VA, for more than 40 years, was born on November 18, 1913, in New York City. A son of James W. and Alice Douglass Fear, he was a nephew of Raymond D. Fear, Class of 1913, a physician. “Doug” Fear grew up in New Jersey, where he was graduated from Morristown High School. He followed his uncle to College Hill in 1931 and joined his fraternity, Delta Upsilon. He would remain an enthusiastic fraternity supporter throughout his long life. On the Hill, he “struggled through chemistry and physics” while pursuing premedical ­studies, but also found time to manage the track team.

After his graduation in 1935, Doug Fear enrolled in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Awarded his M.D. degree in 1939, he stayed on for a year to intern in urology before going on to Duke University, where he held a fellowship in pathology and served as an instructor in the Medical School. He entered the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1943, following a two-year surgical residency in Roanoke, VA. While in uniform during World War II, he received extensive training in neurosurgery at Colombia Medical Center and Walter Reed General Hospital.

Prior to D-Day, Dr. Fear was stationed in England as chief of surgery at the 55th General ­Hospital. He subsequently served as chief of neurosurgery at the 199th General Hospital in France. Near the war’s end, he volunteered for assignment to the Pacific, but his orders were changed while en route in the mid-Atlantic at the time of Japan’s surrender, and he concluded his active service at Army hospitals in the United States. Released in 1946, he nonetheless remained in the Army Reserve until 1965, when he was discharged with the rank of colonel.

After the war, Dr. Fear served for a year as ship’s surgeon for the U.S. Lines on vessels going to Europe, before settling in Roanoke. For 11 years thereafter he would spend his summer vacations as a ship’s surgeon on cruises to the Caribbean and South America. After five years as chief of surgery at the Veterans Hospital in Salem, VA, he established his private practice in ­Roanoke. On August 22, 1958, he was married to Janice Hackman in Salem.

Dr. Fear, a former chief of surgery at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, continued to practice well into his 70s. He was greatly fond of travel, which he did extensively, including two trips a year to observe surgery at the University of Vienna. During the Vietnam War era he sponsored and supported seven orphaned children in Thailand and visited them frequently. He also supported orphans in Latin America and, with his fluency in Spanish, corresponded with them regularly. While at home in Roanoke, he especially enjoyed gardening.

Douglass D. Fear, a supportive alumnus, was still residing in Roanoke when he died on August 15, 2012, at the age of 98. In addition to his wife of 54 years, he is survived by two daughters, Mary Alice White and Catherine Newberry, and four grandchildren.
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Hugh McCollum Curran ’39

Hugh McCollum Curran ’39, a meteorologist both in the military and in civilian life whose assignments took him to distant parts of the globe, was born on May 12, 1918, in Wilmette, IL. The son of John M. Curran, Class of 1892, an attorney-at-law who played on Hamilton’s first football team, and Mae Fuller Curran, he grew up in California, where he attended Santa Barbara High School and prepared for college at the Webb School of California in Claremont. Hugh Curran transferred to Hamilton in 1936, after a year at Pomona College, and joined his father’s fraternity, Delta Upsilon. He sang in the Choir and participated in debate, and gained election to the forensic honor society Delta Sigma Rho. His Hill language preparation would serve him particularly well in later years.

Following his graduation in 1939, Hugh Curran enrolled at Harvard Law School, only to leave after a year, having found the law “uninspiring.” After he was turned down for pilot training by both the Army and the Navy for medical reasons, the Army Air Corps sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a year’s training in meteorology. It marked the beginning of his long and successful career in that specialized field. As a staff weather officer with a fighter group during World War II, he spent four years in North Africa, Sardinia, Corsica, Italy, and finally in occupied Austria. There, he, with his Hamilton-acquired French, helped debrief former French premier and Nazi collaborator Pierre Laval, who had surrendered to Allied forces in Austria. While in Italy, he met Franca Martinengo, and they were married in Pisa on July 10, 1945.

Released from the U.S. Army in 1946, Hugh Curran took “a brief crack” at real estate in his hometown of Santa Barbara, which proved “most interesting but not unduly profitable.” At the time, the newly formed Air Force was in need of weather forecasters, so he went back into military service, becoming the Air Force’s weather officer in Rome, Italy. He subsequently served as chief meteorologist for the Army’s King Cole exercise in Louisiana and became a plans officer arranging weather support for the Army and Air Force in connection with the Quemoy-Matsu crisis during the Eisenhower presidency. Later assign­ments took him to Australia and Saudi Arabia, where he was meteorologist in charge of the Kingdom’s main meteorology center for 32 commercial airlines. His last assignment in military service was in Panama City, FL, engaged in providing support for tactical operations in connection with the Cuban missile crisis during the Kennedy administration.

Just before retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1963, Hugh Curran accepted a job with the U.S. Weather Bureau in Anchorage, AK. It lasted 23 years until his second retirement in 1986. His work in Alaska comprised public forecasting and later aviation and marine forecasting. During his last two years with the National Weather Service before retiring, he worked as a satellite forecaster.

In later years, Hugh and Franca Curran continued to reside in Anchorage while spending winter months in Arizona. They most recently resided in Columbia, MO, where Hugh M. Curran died on February 27, 2012. In addition to his wife of 66 years, he is survived by three sons, John M. ’69, Robert M. ’71, and Hugh M. Curran, Jr.; a daughter, Lori Abrams; and six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. 
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Howard John Gillan ’39

Howard John Gillan ’39, a former Rochester, NY, business owner, long active in that community, was born in New York City on November 9, 1916. His parents were Howard A. and Elizabeth Coenen Gillan. “Howie” Gillan grew up in Rochester, where he was graduated from John Marshall High School. In 1935, after a year’s preparation at DeVeaux School in Niagara Falls, he enrolled at Hamilton. While on the Hill he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon, went out for football, played soccer, and fenced.

After leaving the College with a B.S. degree in 1939, Howie Gillan returned to Rochester and went to work for Eastman Kodak Co. as an industrial engineer. Married on March 27, 1943, to Elizabeth B. Hampson in Pittsfield, MA, he took to the sea with the Merchant Marine during World War II. In 1946, he left Eastman Kodak to join Haverstock & Co., an industrial supply firm, also in Rochester. In 1956, he co-founded Alloy Supply Co., wholesale distributors of industrial piping. As its president, he operated the small business until the 1980s, when he semi-retired but stayed on in an advisory capacity until 1991.

Howard Gillan, a genial and engagingly witty man, remained remarkably active throughout his long life. He at one time chaired the Republican Party of Ontario County as well as the Otetiana Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He also served on the Ontario County Planning Board and the boards of Bankers Trust Co. and later Key Bank. In addition, he was a past director of the University Club of Rochester.

Physically vigorous and blessed with good health through virtually his entire life, Howard Gillan literally traveled the world. His adventures included walking along the Great Wall of China, cruising the Alaskan waterways, and witnessing the great animal migration in Africa. He also spent time in the Caribbean, where he bought and restored the Seaview Hotel on Grand Cayman Island. His travels frequently took him to College Hill as well.

At home in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford, Howard Gillan, a member of the Rose Society, took great delight in ­cultivating award-winning roses, both to enjoy and to give away. He continued to drive his car and to exercise at a workout center near his home up until the last months of his life. He had also continued to play tennis year-round and to go out and pick strawberries until he was 92.

Howard J. Gillan, a past president and longtime secretary of the Rochester Alumni Association, was ardently devoted to and supportive of the College. He died on August 25, 2012, in his 96th year. Besides his second wife, Sally Wheaton Guest Gillan, sister of Perry L. Wheaton ’63, he is survived by two sons from his first marriage, Peter G. and John R. Gillan, as well as two stepdaughters and 12 grandchildren. Family members include his great-nephew, Zachary A. Gillan ’11, whose graduation Howard Gillan attended with great delight last year.
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Elliott Glens Hawley ’39

Elliott Glens Hawley ’39, who retired after a long career with International Business Machines Corp., was born on December 2, 1916, in Poughkeepsie, NY. The only son of Earl Hawley, a lawyer, and the former Ethel Bower, he prepared for college at Trinity Pawling School and entered Hamilton from Poughkeepsie in 1935. Already an ardent golfer as a teenager, he became a member of the Continentals’ team. Affiliated with Alpha Delta Phi, he remained on College Hill for two years. He subsequently attended Fordham University for a time.

Employed in credit and collections by IBM in 1941, Elliott Hawley left his job the following year to join the U.S. Army during World War II. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry, he landed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and saw combat with the Third Army under General George S. Patton’s command. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of the Flossenburg concentration camp, and was one of four officers who located the Merkers salt mines where the Nazis stored the art treasures they had looted in Europe during the war. Awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he had sustained, he also received the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf cluster. Relieved from active duty as a captain in 1946, after the war’s end, he remained in the Army Reserve until his retirement as a full colonel at the end of the Vietnam War.

In December 1946, Elliott Hawley was married to Rosalia Manzella, whom he had met while attending Fordham. He resumed work for IBM in New York City, and the couple resided in Brooklyn until they relocated to Farmington, CT, in 1955, as a result of a job transfer by IBM. In the Town of Farmington, Elliott led the commission that helped create its water treatment plant and water and sewage system. As a result, a street, “Elliott Hawley Lane,” was named for him.

Elliott Hawley, a vestry member and lay reader of St. James Episcopal Church, was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and president for 10 years of the Hawley Family Society. He was a passionate collector of antiques, and especially automobiles, and his collection included Duesenbergs, Cords, and Packards, as well as a Rolls Royce “Silver Ghost.”

Elliott G. Hawley was still residing in Farmington when he died on July 6, 2012, at age 95. In addition to his wife of 65 years, he is survived by two daughters, Cynthia Bonilla and Patricia McDermott; two sons, Stephen and Richard Hawley; and seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and a sister.
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William Edwards Towner ’39

William Edwards Towner ’39, a retired Baptist minister, grew up in Hornell, NY, where he was born on November 4, 1916. A son of Benjamin F., a machinist, and Jennie Patton Towner, a school teacher, “Bill” Towner arrived on College Hill from ­Hornell High School in 1935 and joined the Emerson Literary Society. Elected freshman class president, he soon became involved in a variety of campus activities. Besides singing in the Choir, he played varsity baseball, basketball, and football. The baseball team’s shortstop, he served as its captain in his senior year. A member of the Interfraternity Council and elder of the College Church, he was elected to all four class honor societies, Quadrangle, DT, Was Los, and Pentagon.

After obtaining his B.S. degree in 1939, Bill Towner went to work as an accountant for the Erie Railroad, where his father was also employed. In January 1942, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into World War II, he joined the Army Air Corps. Married to Eleanor M. Lewis in Batavia, NY, on April 20, 1942, he earned his wings as a pilot, as well as an officer’s commission, and served through the end of the war. Discharged from active duty as a major in 1946, he returned to his job with the Erie Railroad. Two years later, responding to a religious calling, he left it to enter Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in preparation for the Baptist ministry. By that time, he and his wife were the parents of three young children.

After Bill Towner acquired his B.D. degree in 1951, he and his family moved to the Cleveland, OH, area, where he served for 10 years as pastor of a local Baptist church. Called to the 1st Baptist Church in Glenside, near Philadelphia, PA, he remained there for a decade also. His final call, in 1970, was to Union Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, PA, from which he retired in 1982.

The Towners thereafter moved to Tallahassee, FL, where Bill became a member of the United Church of Christ and an active volunteer for a number of organizations, including Big Bend Hospice, Common Cause, and the Tallahassee Peace Coalition. He also occasionally substituted as a preacher but otherwise kept busy with home maintenance and gardening, while also finding time to watch sports on TV.

The Reverend William E. Towner was residing in Penney Farms, FL, when he died on August 19, 2010, at the age of 93. His wife of 68 years died three months later. They are survived by two sons, William E. and Gregory K. Towner; a daughter, Anne Keller; and nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Also surviving is Bill's brother, Robert W. Towner '41.
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Contact Information

Stacey Himmelberger

Editor, Hamilton Alumni Review
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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