The Passing of David A. Booth

To the Williams community,

I am sad to report to you today the death of David A. Booth, retired vice provost and political science lecturer. David passed away Sept. 5 in Laguna Woods, Calif. He was 84.

Born in Canton, Ohio, and raised in northeastern Ohio and Chicago, David received his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1954 from Northwestern University. He went on to obtain his master’s degree in political science from Princeton and spent two years studying at the University of Copenhagen. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Known as a careful thinker who was humble to a fault, David came to Williams in 1960 as a political science instructor, and was promoted to assistant professor in 1963. Except for one year when he taught at MIT, David spent his career here and was known for teaching the required empirical political science class for the department for many years. But David played many more roles when he started assuming administrative duties in 1966, assembling an impressive career of service to Williams.

He was an assistant to the provost doing statistical analysis of college data, essentially becoming our first director of institutional research. He also was one of the first directors of the Conferences Office, managing summer theater and various corporate programs. He was instrumental in making experiential education, as inspired by Professor Robert Gaudino, a great success at Williams. He and Gaudino pursued a collaborative friendship that paid great dividends – and I am told he would have been the last person to take credit for this. In the early 1980s, David was involved in addressing the college’s burgeoning need for data systems and computers.  He served on the Committee on Educational Planning when they established the current college semester system. And he also handled with great tact, patience, and sensitivity the development and analysis of the course evaluation program that Williams students use today. For 24 years, he represented Williams on the Consortium for Financing Higher Education, where he also served as chair and on the board of directors.

I’m told people were always amazed at the piles of paper in David’s office, but that he could always lay his hands quickly on any document produced by the Provost’s Office since 1966. He could recite countless statistics about Williams and give you the background and rationale on any decision made by the college.

David also applied his love of stats and data to baseball, and as a diehard Cleveland Indians fan he could provide you with all the stats on each of the six games of the 1948 World Series. He was a lifelong learner, auditing many classes here and at the University of California, Santa Cruz in his retirement.

Among his survivors is his wife of 56 years, Hanne, who worked for many years on campus, including as an executive secretary at WCMA for 12 years.

He is also survived by a son, Erik (Simone) and granddaughter, Katherine Paris Booth of Mission Viejo, Calif.; a daughter, Ingrid Marie (Booth) Parker, son-in-law Gregory Gilbert and grandson Elias Balslev Gilbert, all of Santa Cruz, Calif.; and a brother, Rodney (Patricia) Blackburn Booth, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Our thoughts are with David’s family and many friends.


Adam Falk