The Passing of Anne Sawyer

To the Williams Community,

I am sad to report the death of Anne Sawyer, who became a participant, much to her surprise, in an important passage of Williams history.

When Anne came to Williams in 1961, at the start of her husband Jack’s presidency, she had no way to know that within a year they and the whole college would be swept up in the turmoil occasioned by the process that led to the Anne Sawyerending of fraternities.

The times being what they were, the president’s wife found herself, shy by nature, thrust into the role of hosting countless high stakes and potentially stormy gatherings. From the perspective of history, those winds settled quickly, some credit for which has been given to her attention.

In fact, the words most associated with Anne by those who knew her for any of her 97 years are “dignity” and “grace.” Not a bad way to be remembered.

She was the daughter and wife of alumni, but when the college wanted to formally thank her, it had to invent a whole new honor. And so she became in 1984 the first recipient of the Ephraim Williams Medal, given “occasionally to a non-alumnus who has demonstrated exceptional service and loyalty to the college.”

Our thoughts are with her family, including her grandson Rob Sawyer ’03.

A memorial service and burial in the college cemetery are being planned. Here is a link to her obituary in the Cape Cod Times.


Adam Falk