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Crimson White Online

February 4, 2007

 

Cal Plimpton, Sigma/Amherst '39, pictured here during an Amherst College graduation, one of 12 he officiated as president of Amherst. 

Cal followed his father George, Sigma/Amherst, 1876, to Amherst 

and to DKE.  George Plimpton was 

a philanthropist and chaired 

Amherst's Board of Trustees for 30 

years.

Cal's older brother, Francis T. P. Plimpton, also was a Sigma Deke, 

in the Class of 1922.  Francis was an attorney and later US Ambassador 

to the UN. His son, the high-profile George Plimpton, was not a Deke; however Francis Jr., Sigma/Amherst '50, did follow his father and grandfather, 

as well as several other family members to DKE.  Francis Jr. resides in Florida.

Calvin H. Plimpton Dies at 88; 

Led Way for Women at Amherst

 

Calvin H. Plimpton, an educator who was instrumental in opening Amherst Collegeís doors to women and who later, as president of American University of Beirut, sought to quell the violence as civil war raged in Lebanon, died on Tuesday at his home in Westwood, Mass. He was 88.

 

Dr. Plimpton, who was a physician, died of complications following surgery, a spokesman for the college said.

 

He was president of Amherst from 1960 to 1971. In 1970, he responded to a student body resolution calling for the admission of women by appointing a commission to study the matter. The panelís recommendations to go coed were approved in 1974, and the college, after more than 150 years as a male bastion, admitted women for the first time in 1975.

 

After leaving Amherst, Dr. Plimpton was president of the Downstate Medical Center, State University of New York, until 1979. 

 

He became president of American University of Beirut in 1984, succeeding Malcolm H. Kerr, who had been assassinated outside his campus office. The acting president in 1982, David S. Dodge, had been kidnapped and held for a year.

 

Dr. Plimpton, who had armed bodyguards and kept his movements secret, presided at a time when professors and other Americans were being kidnapped. At one point he traveled to Amman, Jordan, to meet with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, to help restore order.

Cal Plimpton was the third of three Dekes who led 

Amherst College in succession for nearly 40 years.  

Stanley King, Sigma/Amherst '03, (above left) served 

as Amherst College President from 1932 - 46.  He was 

followed by Charles Cole, Sigma/Amherst '27, (right) 

who was Amherst President from 1946 - 60.  Plimpton 

was named president in 1960 and served until 1971.  

 

What had been the Sigma chapter Deke House for 

60 years at Amherst is now a "senior house" (dorm) 

called Plimpton House. Built in 1914 for DKE, the 

house is a three-story Georgian mansion made of 

brick and stone walls and steel and concrete floors. 

During the 1920s, Deke alumni raised money to 

install a beautiful library in the building's first floor. 

This library included a fireplace from the London 

home of Sir Isaac Newton and antique wood 

paneling from the colleges of Oxford and 

Cambridge. Memorial tablets were also installed to commemorate those devoted to the fraternity. 

 

After fraternities were disbanded at Amherst in 1984, 

the house was renamed Plimpton House in honor 

of George A. Plimpton 1876, former president of the  Board of Trustees, and his sons, President 

Calvin H. Plimpton '39 and Trustee Francis T. P. Plimpton '22 -- all Dekes.

 

Calvin Hastings Plimpton was born in Boston and grew up in Walpole, Mass., the son of George Arthur Plimpton, a textbook publisher and philanthropist, who was chairman of the Amherst board of trustees from 1906 to 1936. His mother was Fanny Hastings Plimpton.

 

After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, he earned his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and his masterís and medical degrees from Harvard and a doctor of medical science degree from Columbia. 

 

After serving in the Army and rising to captain in World War II, he practiced medicine in New York and was assistant dean of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia.

 

He is survived by his wife, Ruth Talbot Plimpton; four children, David, of Brooklyn, Polly, of Boston, Tom, of Leverett, Mass., and Edward, of Amherst; and seven grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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