Alumni Review - Summer 2012

Eric Furber Oatman ’61

Eric Furber Oatman ’61, who carved out a long and ­highly successful career with his pen in the field of educational publishing, was born on November 6, 1939, in New York City. A son of Frederic Oatman, an advertising copywriter, and the former Margery F. Ward, a retail merchandiser, Eric Oatman grew up in Yonkers, NY, where he attended Roosevelt High School. He prepared for college at Hackley School in Tarrytown and enrolled at Hamilton following his graduation in 1957. Editor-in-chief of the yearbook at Hackley, as well as active in ­choral singing, he continued those interests on the Hill by contributing to The Spectator and The Hamiltonian, and as a member of John Baldwin’s Choir, which deepened his lifelong love of music. A member of Alpha Delta Phi, he majored in French and, with the understanding encouragement of Dean Winton Tolles, graduated with his class in 1961.

Eric Oatman proceeded to parlay his French major into 18 months of study in Paris, followed by four months of hitchhiking through Egypt and other parts of East Africa. After a year of teaching “a wild mixture of subjects” at Lake Forest Country Day School in suburban Chicago, IL, he returned to his native New York City to engage in freelance writing. His prose appeared in such publications as The Village Voice and The New York Times Book Review, and he managed to have several of his short stories published as well. Feeling the need for further professional preparation, he enrolled in the University of Iowa’s famed graduate writing program. While he and his wife, the former Jane E. Langenbacher, “learned to live below our means” on a farm outside of Iowa City, he pursued his studies and earned his M.F.A. degree in 1972.

After a few months in Europe, the Oatmans returned to New York City with their young daughter, where Eric joined the staff of Scholastic Magazines, Inc. As a writer, he largely focused on its classroom publications. After writing for and editing a couple of magazines, he became editorial director of a number of them and was later placed in charge of creating educational programs that were circulated to schools throughout the country. In 1990, he left Scholastic after 16 years to head his own educational market consulting firm, Oatman Communications. Except for 2 ½ years beginning in 1998 as editorial director of Weekly Reader Corp., he continued to be independently employed as a consultant and freelance writer.

Over the years, Eric Oatman wrote numerous short books for young people on an impressive variety of subjects, ranging from the novels of William Faulkner, Upton Sinclair, and Mark Twain to a textbook on AIDS. He also wrote historical fiction, such as Cowboys on the Western Trail (2004) and reference works, including Medical Care in the United States (1978) and Prospects for Energy in America (1980). Not long before his death, in the 50th Reunion Yearbook of his class, he commented that “for the ability to write, edit, and think critically about these various topics, I blame Hamilton, whose broad education taught me to take risks in all areas of my life.” His writing and editing had garnered several awards for distinguished achievement from the Educational Press Association of America.

Eric Oatman, who resided in the TriBeCa section of Manhattan and had a getaway home on Martha’s Vineyard, continued to work on writing projects until virtually the end of his life. In gratitude to Hamilton for “four years of Eden,” he remained ever close to the College as well as his classmates, and served for a decade beginning in 1993 as class correspondent for this magazine. Self-reflective and the soul of modesty, and one who took all of life’s vicissitudes in his stride, he was a man of grace and wit.

Eric F. Oatman died on December 2, 2011. In addition to his wife of 45 years, he is ­survived by his daughter, Alison R. Oatman.
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Frederick Howe Marks ’64

Frederick Howe Marks ’64, a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War who became a foreign correspondent and senior executive of United Press International, was born on March 22, 1942, in Boston, MA. The younger son of George A. ’24, a physician and surgeon, and Emily Howe Marks, he grew up in the Boston suburb of Winchester and prepared for college at the Choate School in Connecticut. “Ted” Marks entered Hamilton in 1960, following his brother, George A. Marks, Jr. ’62. He joined Delta Kappa Epsilon and immediately went out for ice hockey, becoming the goaltender of the Continentals’ team, as had been his father before him during the early years of Coach Prettyman and hockey at Hamilton. Outstanding on the ice, Ted Marks compiled an impressive record of saves at the net. Co-captain of the 1963-64 squad, he received All-American honorable mention for his performances in the rink.

Two weeks after acquiring his diploma in 1964, Ted Marks signed up with the U.S. Navy. Commissioned as an ensign, he was granted time off by the Navy to serve as goalie for the U.S. national ice hockey team, competing in the world championships held in 1965 in Finland. Upon his return to the Navy, he volunteered for an underwater demolition team and was selected as a member of a Sea, Explosive, Air, Land (SEAL) team in 1966. After a year of intensive training, he found himself on patrol in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, where he took a Vietcong bullet in the chest. After recovery and rehabilitation from his severe wounds, he was discharged from the Navy in 1968 as a lieutenant, having been awarded the Bronze Star with “V” as well as the Purple Heart.

Ted Marks thereafter began his distinguished career in journalism as a reporter for the Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette. Married to Marcia Regnier in 1968, he soon joined UPI in Hartford, CT. After serving as a night editor at UPI’s New England regional headquarters in Boston, he was offered assignment in Tokyo, Japan. From that base he returned to Vietnam as a war correspondent and also covered the 1971 Pakistan-India War. He served in Asia for 10 years, becoming bureau chief in Bangkok, Thailand, from which he ventured into Cambodia and Laos to cover the latter stages of the spreading Vietnam War. He was on one of the last helicopters to depart when U.S. forces evacuated Cambodia, only weeks before the fall of Saigon in 1975. Later that year, he witnessed the capitulation of Laos to insurgent forces.

At the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Ted Marks returned to Tokyo to take over as UPI’s general manager for North Asia. While occasionally continuing to play hockey, he traveled extensively throughout Asian countries as well as Micronesia, managing UPI’s editorial and business affairs. A former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, he returned to the U.S. in 1980 when chosen as executive assistant to the president of UPI. In 1982, he was named vice president and general manager of the wire ­service’s New England Division.

In 1983, Ted Marks left UPI to join the Knight-Ridder chain of newspapers as vice president of marketing information. Based on Manhattan’s Wall Street, he helped develop financial news and information products and systems. In 1990, he founded his own media strategy firm, Marks & Frederick Associates, which represented international news organizations in North America. The last phase of his career began in 2002, when he became founder, editor, and publisher of the KentTribune.com, an electronic newspaper covering the area in and around Kent, CT, where he resided.

In 2007, Ted and Marcia Marks retired to Phippsburg, ME, where they continued avidly to collect American and Japanese art. Frederick H. Marks was still residing in Phippsburg when he died on February 24, 2012, after a long and valiant struggle with prostate cancer. A devoted alumnus, he is survived by his wife of 43 years, as well as two sisters and his brother George. Ted Marks will be remembered for his great strength of character and courage as well as his life of accomplishment.
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Thomas Barry Walker ’67

Thomas Barry Walker ’67, who retired last year as curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX, was born on February 17, 1945, in New York City. The son of Thomas and Margaret Reilly Walker, his father was an oil distributor. He prepared for college at Canterbury School in Connecticut and entered Hamilton from Yonkers, NY, in 1963. A member of the Emerson Literary Society, he majored in English literature and was graduated in 1969.

“Barry” Walker pursued a career in museum work and served as associate curator of prints and drawings at the Brooklyn Museum. He joined the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston in 1991 as its first curator of prints and drawings. In addition, he was appointed curator of modern and contemporary art in 2002. He spearheaded the most important acquisition of 20th century prints in the Museum’s history, and organized innumerable exhibitions encompassing the work of such artists as Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, and Cy Twombly. His 2009 exhibition and catalogue of the paintings of Alice Neel is credited with having redefined scholarship on that artist. By the time of his retirement, he was widely recognized for his expertise in 20th century art.

As recalled by Dena Woodall, assistant curator for prints and drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, he characterized his work at MFAH at the time of his initial appointment as “an absolute dream job because it’s a chance to form a collection…. I can’t think of anything more exciting for a curator to do.” In a June 18 tribute at MFAH, Woodall recounted Barry Walker’s career there, noting that he “loved talking to and working with artists.” She also quoted a review of one of the high-water marks of Walker’s tenure, the exhibition The Heroic Century: The Museum of Modern Art Masterpieces, 200 Paintings and Sculptures. “While most of us wake up in the middle of the night wondering if we turned off the oven,” the review noted, “Barry Walker’s sleep is jarred by thoughts of whether Van Gogh’s Starry Night should hang near Picasso’s Three Musicians.” Walker himself told the reviewer that the installation was “probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done or will do.”

Remembered for “his great sense of humor” — he once made an outing to a local Salvation Army with a newspaper reporter to comment on the prints — “his witty, often caustic remarks and sometimes his ‘political incorrectness,’” ­colleagues also “respected him for his wisdom, enjoyed being engaged with his wonderful vision, and considered him a terrific person to bounce new ideas off of,” Woodall said. (The MFAH tribute can be found on the Class of 1967 page.)

T. Barry Walker died at his home in Los Angeles, CA, on April 17, 2012, as the result of hitting his head in a fall, from which he never regained consciousness. He is survived by a sister, Kerry Walsh, and a niece and a nephew. 
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Thomas Frank Linsley ’69

Thomas Frank Linsley ’69, the eldest son of Francis S., a railroad brakeman, and Ruth Hamilton Linsley, was born on May 27, 1947, in Albany, NY. He came to Hamilton in 1965, following his graduation from Albany Academy, and joined Delta Phi. An accomplished musician who could send “the thundering chords of the Chapel organ through the cold night air,” Tom Linsley was also full of “endlessly imaginative ideas,” as his classmate and College friend Michael Greenspan recalls. He adds that Tom’s “unique personality and razor-sharp intelligence and wit” set him apart as one who “marched to the beat of a different drummer.” A recipient of the Benjamin Walworth Arnold Prize Scholarship, he attended the College off and on until 1972, when he was graduated with honors in psychology. By that time, he had moved to the Lone Star State, where he obtained a master’s degree from the University of Texas in Austin and was employed in its Computation Center.

In 1996, while riding his bicycle on the Texas campus, Thomas F. Linsley was tragically struck down by an unknown hit-and-run driver and, according to a brief newspaper obituary in the Austin American-Statesman, sustained “a traumatic and irreversible brain injury.” A resident of nursing homes for the past 15 years, he died on January 21, 2012. Predeceased by his parents and two brothers, he is survived by a brother, Wayne D., as well as a nephew, Wayne D. Linsley, Jr.
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