Alumni Necrology

Robert Hunt Empsall '30

Robert Hunt Empsall '30, a onetime department store owner in Malone, NY, near the Canadian border, was born on May 18, 1908, in Watertown, NY. A son of William A. and Clara Crowell Empsall, he moved with his family to Malone at the age of 7, when his father, who had been employed in the family department store in Watertown, decided to establish his own retail business there. Bob Empsall grew up in Malone, where he was graduated from Franklin Academy. He entered Hamilton in 1927 as a sophomore, after a year at St. Stephen's (now Bard) College. He became a member of Psi Upsilon and remained on the Hill for three years.

Following a summer spent in Europe, Bob Empsall joined his father in his retail business, Empsall's Department Store. He later took over the store from his father and continued to operate it until it was sold in 1969. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was involved with planning for the shipment of supplies in support of the Allied invasion of North Africa.

Bob Empsall remained a lifelong resident of Malone, where he was active in the community. He was a past president of the Malone Rotary Club, member of the Malone school board, and a trustee of Franklin Academy. He also served on the board of the Marine Midland Bank and was a senior warden and vestry member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church. A boating enthusiast who had at one time or another owned several cabin cruisers and sailboats, he enjoyed sailing on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain. In 1978, he realized his lifelong ambition to sail a boat from northern New York all the way to Florida. In more recent years, he succumbed to the lure of the Internet and developed an interest in genealogy. After tracing his ancestry back to a Revolutionary War soldier, he became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Robert H. Empsall died on May 2, 2008, while hospitalized in Potsdam, NY, just two weeks before his 100th birthday. Predeceased in 1967 by his wife, the former Margaret E. Santway, whom he had married in 1941, he is survived by two sons, John S. and William A. Empsall, and three grandchildren.
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George William Brown '32

George William Brown '32, a retired public school principal and U.S. Navy commander, believed to be the last surviving graduate of the Class of 1932, was born on September 5, 1910, in Binghamton, NY. His parents were John W., a sales representative, and Abigail Galvin Brown. George Brown grew up in Binghamton and enrolled at Hamilton in 1928 from Binghamton Central High School. He joined Alpha Delta Phi, trouped with the Charlatans, contributed to the Royal Gaboon, and became manager of both the varsity soccer and tennis teams. A member of the Newman Club and credited by The Hamiltonian with "being able to talk on any subject at any time and get away with it," he was graduated in 1932.

Soon thereafter, George Brown met Mildred Irene Smith, and they were married in Mamaroneck, NY, in 1934. The couple settled down in that town near New York City, and George, who had just begun his career in education as a grade school teacher in his hometown of Binghamton, found new employment in the Mamaroneck public schools. He obtained an M.A. degree in education from New York University in 1936 and was a science teacher and dean of boys at Mamaroneck Junior High School in 1942 when he went on active duty with the Navy. Commissioned as an officer, he served with the 7th Fleet in the Pacific theater during World War II. He was released from active duty as a lieutenant commander in 1946, but remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1970, when he retired with the rank of commander, after serving as commanding officer of the Naval Reserve Officers School in Stamford, CT.

After his wartime service, George Brown returned to Mamaroneck, where he was appointed principal of the junior high school. He was principal of Hommocks School in Larchmont at the time of his retirement in 1972. He continued to reside in Mamaroneck , where he was a past president of the Lions Club and a director of the Sound Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Commander Brown, who enjoyed riding and even owned a couple of saddle horses before the war, focused his later attention on dogs and their obedience training. He became president and head trainer for a local dog club as well as, for 30 years, a licensed obedience judge for the American Kennel Club. The Browns, who had been spending their winters in Florida, took up permanent residence there in later years. There, George Brown continued to enjoy riding as well as a little gardening.

George W. Brown, a loyal and generously supportive alumnus, was residing in Palm City, FL, when he died on May 10, 2008, in his 98th year. Predeceased by his wife in 1997 and without children, he leaves no immediate survivors.
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George Harlan Lewis '34

George Harlan Lewis '34, a community leader who served as mayor of Clinton, NY, for 30 years, was born on October 9, 1908, and reared in Gilboa, NY, east of Oneonta. A son of the Rev. William A., a Methodist minister, and Matie J. Wyckoff Lewis, he was graduated in 1926 from Stamford Seminary and High School in nearby Stamford. There he stayed on for a year-long teacher-training course before taking up teaching in local rural schools while still a teenager. After three years as a schoolmaster, Harlan Lewis applied to Hamilton and was admitted to the College in 1930. He joined Lambda Chi Alpha, became a member of the Charlatans and the College Band as a trombone player, and lettered in soccer. He was also business manager of the Hamilton Literary Magazine. On May 7, 1934, the year before obtaining his B.S. degree, he "quietly" wedded Lillian M. Boyd in Oriskany Falls, NY, at a time when the College still had rules against married students.

In the ensuing years during that Depression era, Harlan Lewis held various jobs, including the teaching of mathematics and science in Delaware County, selling electrical appliances, and running a feed and grocery store with his brother. He was working as a clerk at Savage Arms, contributing to the World War II defense effort in 1943 when he received a greeting from his local draft board. After two years in the enlisted ranks, including service in the European theater, he was discharged.

After the war, Harlan Lewis enrolled at the New York State College for Teachers in Albany, where he obtained an M.A. degree in education administration and guidance in 1947. By then he had begun teaching at the Westmoreland Central School near Utica. Harlan and Lillian Lewis had already settled down in Clinton, where they both became well known on College Hill as chaperones for many years at the Lambda Chi house. Harlan also remained an ardent fan of Hamilton athletics and faithful attendant at Hill sports events.

Harlan Lewis taught math and science in Westmoreland until 1962, when he joined the faculty of Proctor High School in Utica. A former president of the Utica Teachers Association, he retired in 1972. By that time he had become highly active and prominent in the Clinton community. President of Clinton's volunteer fire department since 1948, he was also a charter member and longtime secretary of the Clinton Kiwanis Club, later becoming its president and a district lieutenant governor. In 1954, he was elected as a village trustee, marking the start of his long career in local politics.

In 1957, Harlan Lewis was elected to his first term as Mayor of Clinton. He would retain that post through 14 more elections until 1987, when he was 78 years old. During all that time he seldom encountered electoral opposition, and village residents appreciated his non-partisan, consensus-building approach to politics. Despite his long and successful career in elective office, he never considered himself a "politician," and he took great pride not only in the changes he had effected (a new waste-water treatment plant, a municipal water system, and rearranged traffic patterns) but also in how much the village had remained unchanged. Under his guidance, Clinton had retained its traditional character and friendly hometown atmosphere. In part it was because of zoning ordinances, restrictive building codes, and the establishment of the historic district around the village square that aided in controlling the village's growth, all of which he championed.

Far from taking to his rocking chair after retirement, the former "Lord Mayor in perpetuity" remained a highly visible, energetic, and positive force in Clinton. In addition to his continuing involvement in Kiwanis activities and his presiding over the Senior Men's Bowling League, he entertained villagers by reading "The Night Before Christmas" and "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" during the annual Christmas shoppers stroll. He also took over the presidency of the Clinton Historical Society, and under his leadership, it established its own home, in a former church on Fountain Street, for the first time.

G. Harlan Lewis died in Clinton on April 22, 2008, six months short of his 100th birthday, bringing to a conclusion a remarkably long life of public dedication and selfless service to his community. Predeceased by his wife in 1983 and without children, he leaves no immediate survivors.
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Frederick Bernard Govern '36

Frederick Bernard Govern '36, who taught foreign languages for many years in colleges and secondary schools, was born on November 23, 1914, in New York City. A son of Joseph L., a surveyor, and Katherine More Govern, Fred Govern grew up in Stamford, NY, east of Oneonta, where he was graduated from Stamford Seminary and High School. He entered Hamilton in 1932, in the same class with his older brother Richard. An enthusiastic golfer since boyhood, he became the College's golf champion in his freshman year before joining the varsity team, which his brother later captained. With a talent for foreign languages, he concentrated in French and German, and left the Hill with his B.S. degree in 1936.

Fred Govern went on to the University of Notre Dame, where he acquired an M.A. in French in 1939. He was teaching at the central school in his hometown of Stamford when, on August 7, 1943, he and Dorothy M. Connolly were married in Elmhurst on Long Island, with his brother Richard as best man. After World War II, in 1946, he returned to Notre Dame as an instructor for six years in speech and German. Thereafter he taught French and German at the senior high school in South Bend, IN, before another stint at Notre Dame for four years beginning in 1963. From 1967 until his retirement in 1980, he was a professor of languages at West Liberty State College in West Virginia. In the meantime, in 1977, he had added to his academic credentials a doctorate of education from West Virginia University.

After his retirement, Fred Govern and his wife Dorothy took up residence in Chapel Hill, NC. There he continued his interest in modern languages by taking courses in Italian at the University of North Carolina. Besides occasional camping trips in his Ford van, he engaged in community activities, and, above all, in golf, his lifelong passion. He had early learned the game as a caddy at the Stamford Country Club and became a highly talented player, winning his last tournament in 2001, at the age of 87. Second to golf was his love of singing. He sang with various groups, including a barbershop chorus, and "his sing-alongs around the bonfire were the soundtrack to family life."

Fred B. Govern, a faithful Hamiltonian who had moved to Mercer Island, near Seattle, WA, in 2005, died on May 28, 2008, at the age of 93. In addition to his wife of 64 years, he is survived by four sons and four daughters, Patrick, Christine, Matthew, Agnes, James, Paul, Mary, and Therese, as well as six grandchildren, a great-grandchild, and his brother, Richard J. Govern '36, father of John M. Govern '71.
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John Edgar Pritchard '37

John Edgar Pritchard '37, who retired as senior trial attorney after more than 50 years with the Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., was born on April 4, 1915, in Wilkes Barre, PA. The son of the Rev. John M., a Congregational minister, and Kathryn Richards Pritchard, a school teacher, he came to Hamilton in 1933 from Sauquoit, NY, as a graduate of Sauquoit Valley Central High School. John Pritchard, also known as "Pritch" and "Jack," engaged in "stretching his legs" in cross-country and track while pursuing his studies in history and philosophy.

Not long after his graduation in 1937, John Pritchard began his employment with Liberty Mutual. Wedded on September 26, 1941, to Virginia M. "Ginny" Merry in Andover, MA, he was assigned to investigating workers' compensation claims in Connecticut defense plants during World War II. With the insurance company in Waterbury, CT, and later in Springfield, MA, he rose from claims adjuster to chief adjuster and claims manager. In 1971, at the age of 56, he acquired his J.D. degree cum laude from the Western New England College School of Law. Thereafter he served as staff counsel in Liberty Mutual's branch office in West Springfield. During those years he engaged in civil litigation as a defense attorney for the company. When he retired at age 75 in 1990, he was the oldest among Liberty Mutual's 25,000 employees.

In retirement, John Pritchard enjoyed hiking and travel, especially to Europe. Long active in the Appalachian Mountain Club, he served as chairman of its Berkshire chapter. Over the years he also participated in community affairs, and was PTA president and planning and zoning commission chairman in Plymouth, CT. He was also a Congregational church deacon, trustee, and Sunday School teacher, and, in Springfield, Republican Party ward committee chairman. An ever loyal alumnus, he served as a free agent for Hamilton's Annual Fund.

John E. Pritchard, long a resident of Springfield, moved with his wife Ginny to a retirement community in Catonsville, MD, in 1999. He died in Maryland on April 7, 2008, three days after his 93rd birthday. In addition to his wife of 66 years, he is survived by a daughter, Jane Bagby, and three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
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Contact Information

Stacey Himmelberger

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