From the Times-Dispatch:
John Luster Brinkley, retired classics professor and historian at Hampden-Sydney College, could recall interesting stories about the school partly because he witnessed so much of its modern history.
In 1959, before he graduated as valedictorian of his class, a fire erupted in a campus building that had been condemned. Rumor had it that students set it alight in the mistaken belief that the administration wanted the building destroyed.
He remembered in a 1987 Richmond News Leader interview the “carnival atmosphere” that reigned as students stood on hoses, turned on showers and flushed toilets to lower water pressure and thwart the Farmville Fire Department’s efforts to douse the conflagration.
One enterprising student sold refreshments. The students’ behavior “was not malicious,” he noted. The incident led to formation of a student fire department.
Mr. Brinkley, who wrote a definitive history of the school and taught Greek, Latin, classical mythology, Roman history and rhetoric from 1967 until he retired in 2007, died Friday at 75. He lived at Westminster Canterbury Richmond.
A celebration of the life of this H-SC icon, who for years routinely sat on the 15-yard line at every home football game and behind home plate at every home baseball game, will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 10 on campus before the annual school game with archrival Randolph-Macon College.
During “Macon Week,” which precedes the game with Randolph-Macon, Mr. Brinkley served as the annual speaker at the “Beat Macon Bonfire.”
His unswerving support for H-SC teams earned him a special citation in the H-SC Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
He was the first H-SC student to become a Rhodes scholar, studying at Trinity College at Oxford University from 1959 to 1962. He earned a master’s degree at Princeton University, where he taught in the classics department, and another master’s at Oxford before returning to Hampden-Sydney to teach.
“I can see him standing completely erect, cigar in hand, head held high, gently shifting his weight from foot to foot as he spoke with confidence,” recalled former student John Adams, an H-SC trustee and chairman of the Martin Agency.
In 1994, Mr. Brinkley rolled out a history of the school, originally written in longhand, called “On This Hill: A Narrative History of Hampden-Sydney College 1774-1994.”
There are no immediate survivors.