Today was the memorial service for Alex Robertson. A victim like Bob Callahan of glioblastoma, he died two weeks ago at the age of fifty-four.
Alex and I were two of the eight members of the largest class of letter winners in the history of Dartmouth’s men’s squash program: Nick Billings, James Bragg, Doug Henry, Raman Narayanan, Jose Suarez and Ben Willwerth.
Alex was the best of the lot. He was ranked eleven in the nation as a senior in high school, in the BU18s. He moved incredibly well for being a big guy—I am not sure when he became “Big Al” but that was probably soon after arriving on campus—and was always gliding around the court seemingly undisturbed by any shot you hit. He had an open stance, a liquid smooth swing and subtle power. As John McPhee wrote, he seemed less tense than a length of string.
He had an eye-crinkling smile. We loved the long van rides, stuffed in the way back as underclassmen, hemmed in by squash bags, going along on winter roads in the dark talking about matters large and small, everyone telling stories. Alex was a leader in those conversations and always tossing in a dose of humor to take the edge off when someone got too serious.
Alex played four and five on the ladder freshman year (going 8-6) and sophomore year (4-4). We were sad when he left to devote himself to Dartmouth’s lacrosse team. In the years since, I was lucky to spend time with Alex, as a roommate in England and at two summer communities.
Now that he’s been taken from us, I miss him terribly.