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Faculty Emeritus Bob Sides ’34 passes away at 96

Memorial service for former math instructor, coach and director of admission set for Saturday, November 3, in Andover

October 25, 2012 —Phillips Academy icon Robert Whittemore Sides ’34 died peacefully on Sunday, October 21, at Edgewood in North Andover, Mass. He was 96. Except for two years spent as assistant dean of sophomores at Harvard University from 1947 to 1949, Bob’s professional life was spent at Andover, whose faculty he joined in 1938. He taught mathematics and celestial navigation, coached sailing, tennis, squash and golf, and served as director of admission from 1954 until his retirement in 1972.

In the classroom and the admission office, and on the tennis court, ocean and golf course, Bob drew great joy from teaching students how to find the square root, box a compass, trim a jib, ace a serve, choose a school, and not least, to win and lose gracefully. He also was one of the founders and architects of the Secondary School Admissions Testing (SSAT) program, now used by private schools across the nation in their admission processes.

Nine of Bob's grandchildren attended Andover and for a number of years he served as chair of the Grandparent Fund. In 2009, he was inducted into the Andover Athletics Hall of Honor.

Bob's memorial celebration will be held on Saturday, November 3, at 11 a.m. in Cochran Chapel on the Phillips Academy campus. This will be followed by a reception in the Underwood Room at noon. Private burial will be in the Phillips Academy cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Kate and Robert W. Sides Scholarship Fund at Phillips Academy.

An avid sailor, athlete and birder, and a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Bob enjoyed a full life following his retirement from Andover. He traveled the world with his wife, Kate, took up birding, attended family sporting events, and competed in tennis matches and sailing races.

Bob was dubbed “Old Iron Sides” by the Boston Globe when he competed in his 50th consecutive Marblehead Race Week. He was inducted into the Marblehead Yacht Racing Hall of Fame in 1991 and later awarded the Eastern Yacht Club’s Charles Francis Adams Memorial Trophy for a lifetime of solid racing success matched by a consistent pattern of sportsmanship. At age 82, he skippered his Etchells, “Sidekick,” in the World Championships. With 100 boats on the starting line, it is the largest regatta in the world of one-design boats over 30 feet.

Born in 1916 on Valentine's Day in Yonkers, N.Y., to Walter H. Sides and Edith Whittemore Sides, Bob graduated from Andover in 1934 and Harvard in 1938. He is survived by five children, Kate S. (Kitty) Flather ’59 of Boston, Robert W. (Buck) Sides Jr. ’61 of Marblehead, Mass., Sophie S. (Posie) Cowan of Blue Hill, Maine, Lucie S. Bourdon of Lyme, N.H., and Natalie S. (Lee) Miller of Lincoln, Mass.; 16 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren. A collection of past comments are available in PDF format.

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