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Yale 62

Philip Duncan Thomas, Jr.
Born: May 20, 1941
Died: June 26, 1962
Keith Nettleton Thompson
Born: January 24, 1940
Died: June 26, 1962

On June 26, 1962, classmates and long-time friends, Duncan Thomas and Keith Thompson died together in a tragic automobile accident near Steinberg, Germany, 40 miles north of Hamburg when their small car was struck by a truck. Keith was 22 years of age and Duncan was 21.

The two, roommates in Berkeley College and at St. Paul’s School, were killed instantly. They had flown to Europe on June 18, 1962, 2 weeks after graduation, for a tour of the Continent and were returning from a visit to Denmark at the time of the collision.

Duncan Thomas was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, son of Philip Duncan Thomas ‘31S and Jean Cother French Thomas. He and his family resided in Weston, Connecticut.

Keith Thompson was born in New Haven, son of Curtiss Keith Thompson, ’21, ’23 LL.B., and Eunice Prindle Hall. His grandfather, Henry A. L. Hall, graduated from Yale Law School in 1895. His father was a prominent attorney in New Haven and chairman of the Bar Examining Committee during the 1960s. Keith resided in Woodbridge. a New Haven suburb.

Both Keith and Duncan graduated cum laude from St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire in 1958, Duncan with a National Merit Scholarship. Both were on the Pelican Board and the Mathematics Society at St. Paul’s. At Yale both were residents of Berkeley College and members of the Berkeley Players.

Duncan was on the Berkeley softball, squash, swimming, and soccer teams. He participated in the Yale Political Union and swam on the Freshman swimming team. He was awarded the Waterman Scholarship his senior year and was a Philosophy major.

Keith was on Dean’s List, a member of the board of WYBC, active with W1YU and competed on the Berkeley soccer team. He was a Psychology major.

Duncan was planning to begin law school at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1962. He had also expressed an intention to go into politics after law school.

Keith was enrolled at University of Heidelberg for a year’s study of German Literature. His intention was to attend Stamford for a Ph.D. in psychology and then go into teaching.

Duncan was survived by his parents, his sister Susan Sewall and his brother Peter Buckeley Thomas. Keith was survived by his parents and his brother David Thompson.

Duncan’s ashes were interred in the cemetery at St. Paul’s School. A joint Memorial Service was conducted for Keith and Duncan on July 3, 1962, at Berkeley College by Yale’s Episcopal Chaplain, Rev. Kenneth Coleman, assisted by Rev. Jervis Zimmerman. The families requested at that time that gifts in their memories be made to St. Paul’s School.

Classmates Bill Weeden and Ellis Wisner, fellow graduates of St. Paul’s, supplied information for this obituary essay which was written in the summer of 2012, 50 years after the tragic accident, to correct the original essay first published in our 25th Reunion Book in 1987. Linked in death as they were in life, we remember them.


– R.G. Oliver, rev. 2012