J. William Loving, Jr., 1934-2009
By Bobby Davis ’82
“Bill went through a period where he designed a series of ‘flasher in a trench coat’ greeting cards. About financial aid, no less! How can you make anything as bureaucratic and dry as financial aid come out funny and dirty? I don’t know, but Bill did it. It certainly made coming to work more interesting.”
Yes, the irreverent reverend was Bill. As Sam noted, Bill had been an ordained minister, who was deeply affected by the Civil Rights Movement and actually met Martin Luther King once, a memory he treasured. Although he split from the church and religion, he brought that sense of calling to Financial Aid. He believed in the value of aid to give poor and middle-class kids a chance to get a superior education, and he liked underdogs. He did not look at his job as a dull, bureaucratic exercise, though as the business changed he complained at one point that the avalanche of new regulations in the ‘80s robbed his job of much of his creativity. He also believed students should work for the privilege, and didn’t like it when departments treated work-study jobs as study hall. He also kept a sharp eye on those families he felt were hiding assets.
Passionate enthusiasms: Bill embodied the liberal arts ideal of Rollins in the wide range of cultural interests. In no particular order, he loved the Phi Delt fraternity, Rollins soccer, Hunter S. Thompson (a fellow Kentuckian, he noted proudly), Pippin (after whom he named his beloved and much-spoiled dog) and musical theater generally, the Rollins Players, classical music, the photographers Andre Kertesz, Jerry Uelsmann, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams, the Orlando Magic, wine and wine tastings, the Kentucky Derby (his annual Derby party with his special mint julep recipe was legendary), Beef and Bottle, Mexican food, English and American history, political debates, gossip, old movies, new movies, Harry Potter, South Park, and Johnny Carson’s Karnak the Magnificent. He had an encyclopedic memory for jokes, most of them bad. One rarely left a meeting with Bill without coming away with a book, CD, or DVD in hand, or a recommendation at the very least.
“Soon after we met after Bill came to Rollins, he took me to a wine tasting (my first) of German wines at Disney's Lake Buena Vista Club House,” Steve said. “Then we began go to wine tastings at Randy Gates’ Park Avenue Wine and Cheese Cellar. Bill, Mark Rodriguez (the chef at Villla Nov and owner of Jordan’s Grove), and I started ‘The Order of Zinfandel’ (by this time, I was over German wines!) He loved playing this--almost as much as Karnak!”
Bill cared deeply about Rollins, but could be a sharp critic and enjoyed and encouraged student and staff gadflies. As former Director of Housing David Lord recalled at the memorial service, he loved his regular meetings with Bill at Beef and Bottle to discuss his perceptions of administrative goings-on at the College—even when David was an administrator. He surrounded himself with people who were culturally engaged, witty, and fun, in sort of an informal and ever-shifting Rollins version of Dorothy Parker’s Algonquin Round Table.
Bill served as the faculty advisor to the Phi Delts, recruiting good students he knew and helping the fraternity maintain high standards. One of his favorite joking epithets was to call someone a “TKE.”
“Bill was instrumental in bringing the Florida Beta Chapter of Phi Delta Theta back to life, and it is very telling of his significance that the Chapter literally spun out of control and lost Mayflower Hall only a few years after Bill’s retirement,” Todd related. “I was asked to fill Bill’s former role in 1989 and did so very inadequately for only a year; Bill had done it for 20. I stood in Bill’s shoes for only a short time, and learned firsthand the void he had left to fill.
“One memory I had of Bill was in the summer before my senior year, when a bunch of us drove--Bill flew--to New Orleans for the Phi Delta Theta National Convention to be there when Bill was honored as Chapter Advisor of the year. All Bill cared about is that we took in the blues and other noted sights in New Orleans, so the only convention activity we went to was to watch Bill get the award.
“Bill kept the oral history of the fraternity, in the Native American tradition. He could go through a room of composites and tell you something about virtually every person pictured for every year; he knew where they were from, what they were like, and tried to keep up as much as possible with what they were doing. He would talk with pride about the achievements and life stories of countless graduates, and was the living link between several generations of Phi Delta at Rollins who without Bill would have never known one another. Bill made us feel part of a greater but still interconnected world, and wanted the best for us,” Todd said.
Whether you were a close friend or only knew him slightly, Bill enjoyed seeing former students and colleagues.
“I had a nice exchange with Bill at Dean Wettstein's Memorial Service last September,” said Rick Taylor ‘81. “In particular, I thanked him for all he had done to work out my financial aid during my last two years at Rollins, that it had really made all the difference in my being able to attend Rollins. He passed it off as "no big deal,” saying that he was ‘just doing his job.’ He was gracious man who will be greatly missed.
“Rollins has brought forth many people who made great differences in the lives of Rollins students,” Sam said. “Bill Loving was the best of this tremendous tradition. He was the most accessible Rollins administrator of his day. He knew hundreds of students on a first-name basis, and all of them called him Bill although they were half his age or less. Bill was a Rollins resource when was out and about on campus and in his office in Carnegie Hall. He guided countless Rollins students through the maze of scholarship, student loan and financial documentation, which were necessary evils to getting their Rollins education.
“But Bill became a friend, not just an administrator or funny man. He possessed a subtle but powerful ability to disarm with charm and humor, which he used to bring everyone into his large circle of friends.”
“I knew Bill Loving in three distinct phases of my life,” said Richard Colvin ’80, who worked for the Cornell Art Museum for many years and now for the Maitland Art Center. “First, as a student he administered the financial award package that paid for my final year at Rollins. It was a merit award (the first George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Scholarship), and because financial need was not established, Mr. Loving was somewhat reluctant. His was a lifetime’s dedication to those less fortunate.
“Second, we worked together on his photographic collection on different occasions and locations. Bill was a very good photographer – in a classic, formal sense – as well as an unusually well-informed collector of fine art photography. In these situations he was exacting but generous, and always had a focus on the demands of the art itself.
“Last, we became personal friends after his retirement. Rarely did a week go by without a visit or a phone call. We were able to converse about things that I couldn’t really talk about with other people; art, aesthetics, issues, politics, everything. I like to think I became a poor substitute for his late, great friend and colleague, the photographer Robert Eginton.
“I miss him very much and wish all good things to his family, particularly Nancy. He was bighearted and brilliant man, and it was a privilege to have known him.”