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Richard Colt Williamson

Died: June 19, 2007

Marc Janes remembers:

Dick was irrepressible. His ebullience sent light across the shadows of others’ lives. He was joyous, daring, independent, intelligent and fun. He cared deeply, listened attentively, and gave wholeheartedly. I think he was part Labrador Retriever: energetic, smart, brimming with enthusiasm, wholly his own being. My favorite hours with Dick, with whom I was privileged to room for several years, was the day we skipped classes one day in May to go motorcycle riding into the Vermont countryside when the whole world was overflowing with color, warmth, and light…. just as he did. I miss him dearly.

David Hathaway remembers:

Dick Williamson, a member of the Yale Class of 1966, died on June 19, 2007 of a heart attack. Nearly everyone in our class knew and loved Dick. He had a zest for life that few could equal, a joie de vivre which we all envied, a sense of humor that kept us smiling, and a kindness, which humbled us all.

Dick pursued life with the same intensity that he played hockey at Yale. As one of our classmates commented, “He was the first guy I knew who rode a BSA Super Rocket.” From another, “A terrible loss. One of those forever young guys.” Dick did not change one iota as an adult. All the qualities and traits that made him such a good person and a great friend to many of us at Yale were with him to the end.

As an adult and parent he forsook his BSA and became a competitive, avid bicycle racer. Ironically, he was on his way with his wife Deborah to compete in the bicycling events at the National Senior Games when he died. Dick never did anything casually.

Despite his passion for sports, his true love was French. He earned a doctoral degree from Indiana University, where he played for and coached the club hockey team, which won the Big Ten Club Championship twice during his tenure. He was named twice to the All Big-Ten Club three times.

After Indiana Dick and his family moved to Maine, where Dick joined the faculty of Bates College. He was named Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of French at Bates College until he retired in 2005. He was a decade long chairman of the Department of Classical and Romance Languages and Literature. His hockey career continued at Bates as well, and he was inducted into the Bates Scholar-Athlete Society in 2006.

His Bates colleagues and students reflected that Dick “… was always consistent and masterful at pulling us…into the larger good.” According to one of Dick’s students, “He offered students inside and outside the classroom a window to a much larger world, the example of flexibility and resilience, and so many other fundamental, but intangible, gifts.”

The French government, in gratitude for his teaching French language and literature in the United States, named him Chevalier in the Order of the Palmes Academiques in 1997.

They broke the mold when Dick passed away. To quote Billy Joel, “Why do the good always die young…?”