Richard Morse Eastman (Dick) entered the world on August 20, 1916, at Locust Valley, Long Island, New York. His father Fred was then a Presbyterian pastor. His mother, Lilla Frances Morse, was a minister's daughter who had taught at Mount Holyoke College for women before the two were married in 1914. Dick's younger brother Arthur was born September 8, 1918. Dick and Art were to share life interests, both becoming professors and educational leaders.
When Fred accepted the chair of Religious Literature and Drama at Chicago Theological Seminary, the family moved to Chicago in 1926. There Dick attended University High School, class of 1933. His further formal education can be summarized thus: B.A. Oberlin with major in political science; graduate study 1937-39, Yale Drama School, playwriting; M.A. University of Chicago, English; Ph. D. with honors, University of Chicago 1952, dissertation on the Victorian novelist George Eliot.
His interest in writing led in 1940-41 to service at Elgin State Hospital (Illinois) as chaplain's assistant, where he had access to psychiatric patients, records, and literature. Here Dick met and courted his future wife, Vivian Clare Bolger, diagnostic secretary. She was to become his wife on November 14, 1942, on his leave from military service. He was to attain the rank of major before his discharge in 1946.
The flood of newly-discharged veterans entering college that year opened up the chance for Dick to enter college teaching though he lacked the advanced degree. He sought and obtained an instructorship at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois--a fine liberal arts college which appealed to his desire to teach a wide range of subjects instead of specializing as would be expected at a University. Naperville also offered a pleasant home for Vivian and their three infant daughters: Patricia Clare (b. 1943) and twins Julie Ann and Susan Jill (b. 1946).
North Central College furnished a lifelong adventure for Dick, who found his way into leadership, first as English department chair, then as chair of Humanities, then as Dean of Faculty, to conclude his academic career as Professor of General Studies before retiring in 1982. He had received the Dissinger Award for excellence in teaching. He was made Honorary alumnus in 1992 and Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1993.
Another career had been blooming, from way back at University High, when Dick and friends formed a jazz combo with himself at piano. This passion for music led Dick to take a composition course at Oberlin Conservatory, and to compose several songs for the student musical comedy, Arabesque (1937). Just after he retired from North Central College, a recorder class was opened, to meet the new interest in that ancient flute. Dick joined the American Recorder Society and soon began composing for the recorder, winning several prizes and joining with friends to form the West Winds playing group. He actually formed his own music publishing firm, House of Porter, which enjoyed modest sales in the 1990s.
Vivian throughout added to the family budget by secretarial work, especially at Ellsworth school. She and Dick enjoyed their daughters through childhood, college, marriage, and career. Clare is an administrative assistant at the New York office of David Rockefeller. Susan is a health administrator in Santa Fe. Julie is married to Michael Sollins, an electrical engineer, and pursues her own career as a painter; they live in Chapel Hill.
Copyright © 2005-2009 by Richard M. Eastman. All rights reserved.