“Pitched past pitch of grief”
It is with heavy hearts that we share news of the passing of Bennett Lamond, Professor of English Emeritus, whom many of his colleagues at Washington College consider one of the greatest faculty members in generations. Bennett, who taught his students to take delight in literature and appreciate the nuance and beauty of the English language, died in hospice on August 15. He was 77.
Bennett had been diagnosed with a rare cancer, a melanoma behind his eye, for which there was no standard protocol for treatment. “He was incredibly brave about the whole thing,” recalls Kelley McIntire, a former Dean of Students who worked with Bennett for many years and remained a close friend.
Bennett came to Washington College as an Instructor of English fresh out of his master’s program at Fordham University in 1965. He retired from teaching “at 39” he noted, having devoted 39 years to teaching medieval and Victorian literature. He shared his passion for the English language through courses including Forms of Literature and Composition, History of English Literature, Medieval Literature, Gay and Lesbian Literature, Victorian Poetry, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Poets and Poetry, and Edwardian Literature. As devoted as he was to the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Bennett was more committed to his students. The lifelong friendships forged in his classroom formed the core of his extended family.
He was also an incredibly kind and thoughtful colleague who served as a role model for younger faculty members. Andrew Oros, associate professor of political science and international studies recalls that when Bennett retired in 2004, he offered a “Last Class” during Alumni Weekend. “His retirement lecture in Goldstein 208 was full to the gills with overflow down the hall of alums who returned to thank him,” Oros says. “At his reception, I had the privilege to hear so many warm stories of how he changed their lives through his teaching—people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s. It inspired me to seek to be a better teacher and mentor.”
He is remembered for many things: his role as Vladimir in a College production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot; his now legendary poetry classes spent gathering ye rosebuds ’round the May Pole; his directorship of the College’s Semester in London program, his unflagging support of student drama productions, his fondness for Chaucer, and his admiration of Sophie Kerr.
Over the years, he arranged for concert pianists, poets, lecturers, and novelists of national renown to visit the campus and enhance the learning experience of Washington College students. He dedicated much of his time and effort throughout his career at the College to promoting the Sophie Kerr program. A former chair of the Department of English, he received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1992.
He is survived by his brother, Jim, of Brooklyn, New York, and a sister, Benita Gillespie, of Naples, Florida.
Memorial services will be conducted at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Chestertown on Tuesday, August 23, at 1 p.m. with a reception following in the Parish Hall. Friends are invited to gather for a visitation at Fellows, Helfenbein & Newman Funeral Home on Speer Rd. in Chestertown prior to the service from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.