Saturday, December 18, 2010


Jay C. Whitehair, Jr.
1932 - 2010 

From a deanship during Dartmouth's student-unrest days, to a lobster ship on Maine’s jagged coast: That kind of  courageous “career change” speaks oceans about Jay Whitehair’s adventuresome attitude toward life.

Jay had what I call a “million dollar smile.”  It was big, and full of impressive ivory, and  his whole head seemed to twinkle and bob a bit when it flashed, as if he were shy at being so radiant.

And radiant he was.

He radiated love for Aune, his wife of more than half a century, which he expressed eloquently the dozens of times I was with him over the last five years; he radiated a father’s pride in his son and daughters, who were the apples of his eye, along with his grand-kids; he radiated conviction about his concern for students at Dartmouth troubled with addiction problems; and he radiated zest for life, whether panning for gold in New Hampshire rivers, taking Buddhist meditation classes, playing the Stock Market, or meeting a friend for pizza at EBA’s ("Everything But Anchovies," a college hang-out in Hanover).

And what made that radiance even more remarkable was that Jay did not deny the darkness in life.

A couple of years ago when I had to be in the hospital for the first time since I was born, I awoke to find Jay, sitting in a chair beside my bed, that million-dollar smile radiating out at me.   

That’s the kind of friend he was.

The last email-I received from him in what turned out to be his own final hours six days  before he died, mentioned off-hand that he was sitting at the bedside “of an old friend at Genesis” for what might soon be that friend’s final hours.

Need I say more about fishing with kindness and loyalty in this ocean called Life?

From now on, whenever I feel the warmth of another's smile,  I'll see my kind friend Jay, peering  out from  behind that grin, radiating from afar.


Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed