Honoring a Mentor
“Had it not been for Bill steering me toward Hamilton, none of this would have been possible,” Ted Pitcher ’68 explained recently in a conversation about his gift endowing a scholarship in honor of Bill Hoyt ’59. The William L. Hoyt ’59 Scholarship is dedicated to an alumnus who devoted his life and career to secondary education and made significant contributions to national and international educational development.
Pitcher and Hoyt first crossed paths when Pitcher was a student at Stoneham High School where Hoyt was an assistant principal and football coach. Hoyt said he was “very impressed with Ted as a person, as an athlete, and as a student.” As his own junior English teacher had done for him years before, Hoyt saw to it that Pitcher traveled to Hamilton to see the campus and meet with the admissions department. “That’s what teachers do,” he explained on why he made the effort.
My best friends are the guys I met at Hamilton, many coming to Hamilton under similar circumstances — blue collar, and someone saw some promise and offered them a chance.
Hoyt was an English literature major at Hamilton and co-captain of both the football and lacrosse teams (and most valuable player in football in 1958). After graduation he was hired by Mike Scarpitto ’33 to teach at Stoneham and at the age of 26, he was promoted to assistant principal, and four years later principal. Ultimately, as Scarpitto had done before him, he became superintendent of the Stoneham School District. Along the way, he earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Boston University. Throughout his teaching and administrative career, Hoyt continued to direct talented high school students to Hamilton.
Tom Duff ’85 explained how Hoyt changed his life’s course. “Other than my parents, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who had more of an impact on my life. I had no idea what Hamilton College was all about or how fortunate I was that Mr. Hoyt showed an interest in me. I grew up in a small town... My father was a police officer, my mom cleaned houses. We lived a pretty insular life. Hamilton and Dr. Hoyt opened up how I would see and appreciate the world around me. My best friends are the guys I met at Hamilton, many coming to Hamilton under similar circumstances — blue collar, and someone saw some promise and offered them a chance.”
Steve Downey ’60 was one of Hoyt’s first recruits. A fellow football teammate at Concord High School, Downey spent a post-grad year at Cheshire Academy before Hoyt recruited him to Hamilton. Downey recalled how Hoyt helped to foster a campus at which students would, “Play hard, study hard. Give all. Expect it to be tough! Prepare to win! Believe in yourself. Only then, expect to win. And win or lose, be gracious.”
In discussing athletics and scholarship at Hamilton, Hoyt said, “The entire backfield was pre-med, and we could beat our competition. We were competitive on and off the field. The benefit of participating in athletics is that it builds a connection between success and hard work. You build lifelong relationships. You learn to do something important by virtue of working together — something Washington should learn.”
Both Pitcher and Hoyt felt they had benefited mightily at Hamilton from “extraordinary professors.” Pitcher, like Hoyt, was the first in his immediate family to attend college and did so only with financial support from Hamilton. A chemistry major who “learned how to learn and how to write at Hamilton,” Pitcher played varsity hockey.
Upon his graduation at the height of the Vietnam War, he anticipated being drafted. Hoyt suggested instead that he interview for an open teaching position in chemistry at Concord-Carlisle High School. Although Pitcher taught for more than five years, he recognized that teaching would not be his lifelong vocation. Another alumnus, Bruce Mohl ’68, was attending law school, and Pitcher became interested in the possibility of doing the same. He attended Suffolk University’s law school at night, attending three of four years for free as his class’ top performer, and graduated magna cum laude.
Combining his chemistry degree and law degree, Pitcher received multiple offers from patent law firms after graduation. So began his long career as an attorney specializing in intellectual property. He later engaged in venture capital and entrepreneurial endeavors. Although his teaching career came to an end, he never forgot the man who had had such a significant influence on the direction of his life.
“I give a tremendous credit to Hamilton and to my parents. Without Bill and his influence, I would never be where I am today,” said Pitcher. “But for different paths in life, Bill would be doing what I am doing [in establishing this scholarship]. This seems like an important thing to do — to give back to Hamilton and to honor Bill.”
And in a complementary tribute to Pitcher, Hoyt said, “To have someone like Ted, to listen to what he has accomplished, is as fulfilling a moment as I’ve had as an educator.”