BCF honors the legacy of beloved community members
‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
And oh, to lose…
– Judah Halevi
Within the span of a week this October, the Bath community lost Whit Andrew and Doc Hemphill. There are those who would say the two could not have been more different.
Doc was almost a generation older than Whit, an only child, whose death signaled the "end" of his family tree, having years ago buried his daughter, son and wife. The ever dapper, bow-tied Doc was brilliant in his own irascible way. He was a man respected for his dedication to medicine and his patients; admired for his curiosity, his love of history, and his fascination with clocks; remarkable for his memorabilia collecting and his unflagging memory – even at 94; and renowned for his love of a good time and the friends he made and kept. Doc knew too much sadness but nonetheless always found a way to stay involved, stay active, and leave a mark, whether through the quiet dedication of the graceful clock at Historic Bath Town Hall, his generosity of treasure and perspective with the founding of Bath Community Fund, or as the force of nature behind Bath’s iconic Chief Logan sculpture at Bath Community Park. Doc inspired devotion and dedication among those who loved and admired him because beneath that somewhat prickly exterior was a generosity of spirit and a belief that all things were possible, especially if he could control all those things!
Whit always was the very essence of the "old-time" Bath, with roots in the community as deep or deeper than few others and heir to a family name that not only goes back generations but that has been part of the community foundation on which Bath has grown and flourished. As proper and somewhat unapproachable as Doc could sometimes be, Whit was the total opposite – with his shock of disheveled white hair, his mildly lopsided grin, that twinkle in his eye and a hug always ready to be shared. Whit was simply the nicest, sweetest man in Bath. He was the neighbor everybody wanted, the friend everybody cherished, the dad, grandpa, companion, brother, uncle and all-around good guy that every life yearns to have within that circle of life. At home on a tennis court or piano bench, whether sanding a piece of wood or molding the tennis swing or character of a teenage girl, Whit was a gentle, comfortable soul, content in his life, at peace with himself and everything around him, and happiest when he was with family and friends… and eating his PSDs (powdered sugar donuts!).
While there are those who would say the two could not have been more different, they were much the same when it came to Bath because they shared a deep love of and gratitude for this community that was home.
Both Doc and Whit will be missed by so many in Bath; missed because of who they were, because of what they gave to all of us, and because of the memories they leave with and for us. And while, as the poem says, death has touched them and we have lost them, we would have lost far more in not knowing them both.