Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Splendid" Lillard

Page 128 from vol. 25 of the Dartmouth student newspaper that describes Dartmouth's victory over Harvard
Dartmouth's recent football victory over Harvard, after several decades of agonizing defeats, brought to mind another time long ago when Dartmouth was king of the gridiron and its students were scholar-athletes in the truest sense. One of those men was Walter H. Lillard, known as "Cappy" to many, a member of Dartmouth's class of 1905. Among his many exceptional accomplishments, Lillard was on the Dartmouth football team that notched the college's first-ever victory against Harvard in 1903. Lillard, although being a bit small for a football player, still put on a performance in the left end position that the Dartmouth called "splendid." The memory of Dartmouth's stunning shut-out of Harvard that year must have been in the minds of the men who hired Lillard to be the assistant football coach for two years after he graduated. Phillips Academy in Andover soon poached him to serve as their football coach as well as teach English Literature; by doing so, he became the first faculty member at the school also to serve as football coach. Eventually, Dartmouth was able to lure him back to campus in 1908 as the head coach.

After receiving an A. M. from Dartmouth in 1910, Lillard returned to Phillips Academy, Andover, to coach and teach English. Lillard found the hierarchy of American college sports, with its designation of varsity and junior varsity, to be distasteful. He soon instituted a policy at Andover that required all students to participate in athletics of some kind. Six years later, he accepted the position of principal at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, where he served for twenty-six years.

Page from Lillard's passport showing his photograph (and the x'ed out photos of his family)In addition to his  school responsibilities, Lillard was very active in his community, serving as Civil Defense director, chairman of the Red Cross chapter and a member of the board of library trustees and school building committee. In 1945 he was appointed American field representative in Vienna, Austria, where he worked with the Intergovernmental Committee of Refugees. We have his passport from his trip to Europe, and the photo in it suggests that the United States government back then was less stringent about what sorts of photographs were acceptable for official documents.

To look through more of W. H. Lillard's papers, come to Rauner and ask to see MS-1159. The early 20th-century copies of the Dartmouth are on the reading room shelf, if you want to read all about how the football team trounced Harvard for the first time so many years ago.

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