Just when all the party tents and flowers and bon mots from commencement were put away, and you thought it was safe to stop making merry for a few days, here comes another Marlboro milestone. Last night a whole boatload of faculty, alumni and staff gathered in the dining hall to toast, roast and generally have the usual good time with Tim Little, who retires this year. Some of the emeritus-ly faculty who came waltzing out of the woods for this event, such as the likes of Tom Ragle, Luis Batlle, Geoffry Brown, Edmund Brelsford, Ted Wendell, Michael Boylen and Jaysinh Birjepatil, gives you an indication of just how big a deal Tim’s retirement is, as if you don’t know.
Tim has always struck me as the product of some kind of magical union between Socrates, Santa Claus and the best storyteller you can imagine. He did not dispel that image last night, even after a toasting and honoring and eulogizing and extolling that would have reduced most mortals like myself to a blubbering mass of schmaltz. I mean, even after being conferred an honorary doctorate, including a Marlboro academic “hood” that appeared to take the combined effort of President Ellen and trustees Ted Wendell and Peter Mallary ’76 to get over his head correctly, Tim was not lost for words. With his characteristic photographic detail and sense of irony, he described the last time he had the honor of wearing such a hood, which he borrowed from trustee Zee Persons to attend the inauguration of the new president of Norwich University. We’re talking Iron Age Marlboro history here, but Tim described it as if it were yesterday’s bridge game or the French Restoration. He will be remembered with the same equitable sense of wonder.