Yale University

In Memoriam

Ed Wilhite

Ed Wilhite
1964 graduation

Ed Wilhite was remembered at a Memorial Service in Battell Chapel on June 5, 2009 during our 45th reunion.

Memorial Service reading

by Rob Goodwin, '64

It is my privilege to speak of Samuel Edgar Wilhite, our classmate and my friend, who died of a massive stroke this year at the age of 67. Ed Wilhite and I roomed together at Yale for three years, but I met him earlier, in 1958, when we attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. We were both sixteen, and it was slightly over fifty years ago.

After Yale, Ed graduated from Stanford Law School. He moved to Washington and practiced criminal law there, laboring tirelessly and devotedly on behalf of his clients. Some of them had committed horrendous acts. Ed had no illusions about their innocence, but he never lost sight of their essential humanity. He believed that the difference between the best and worst of us is smaller than generally imagined.

Those are the bare facts, but they don't do justice to him. He was, among other things, an extraordinarily loyal and steadfast friend, the sort you could call in the middle of the night. In a reversal of how it usually goes, he became more free-spirited as he got older. This was especially apparent in his far-flung travels. Through the years we met in places as varied as Culver, New York City, Isle Royale National Park, Dublin, Cape Cod and Nassau. His interests went far beyond the law. Conversations and letters might touch on movies, books, politics, and of course his travels. Despite the nature of his work, and more than his share of adversity and loss, such as losing both parents in a plane crash when he was just a few years out of law school — he maintained a fine dry sense of humor.

Samuel Edgar Wilhite was a quiet, thoughtful, inherently decent man, but his quiet nature concealed a passionate commitment to those who needed him and whom he cared about. I am proud to have been his friend, and will cherish the memory of that friendship for the remainder of my life. And I suspect that others who knew him well will do likewise.