Our class orator at our Commencement in 1939 died May 16, 2012. In his June 20, 1939, speech he prophesied, “Perhaps we shall see the unification of China and the rise of a powerful country.”

Phill was the son of a Presbyterian pastor, and lived in Istanbul as a boy. At 18, he lived for a summer in Germany. After graduation, he studied in Sweden for a year. His 2006 memoir sums up his wartime pilgrimage: A Personal History of World War II: How a Pacifist Draftee Accidentally Became a Military Government Official in Postwar Germany. He also wrote books about the Berlin blockade, West German politics, and an optimistic look at the future in his 2004 study of globalization titled, Things Might Go Right.

Phill’s career in research and education included a stint as an instructor at Princeton and 20 years as a professor at Columbia. Residents of Central New Jersey owe him and his second wife a debt for their helping to make the Delaware and Raritan Canal a state park.

Phill is survived by his wife, Emma-Rose, two children, one grandson, and two great-grandsons. The class bids a valediction to them on behalf of our loyal orator.

Undergraduate Class of 1939