Illingworth’s former colleagues coaxed him back to Harvard for a proper good-bye that recognized the former dean’s love of the arts.
Illingworth stepped down from his post last June after 22 years as an administrator, first working in the admissions office and then moving to University Hall, where he was the point-person for student groups.
Illingworth, also an Episcopalian priest, quietly left Harvard during summer vacation and traveled north to his home state of Maine to take on a deanship of a different sort—interim dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, Maine.
“We certainly didn’t want him to slip away under the cover of the night,” said former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68.
People from all over the College helped plan the mini-production during the celebration, according to Associate Dean of the College Judith Kidd.
“It speaks to things that David loves,” she said. “It was put together by friends.”
Guests congregated at Holden Chapel at 4 p.m. to enjoy wine, microbrewed beer and hors d’oeuvres.
As they mingled in the one-room chapel, members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Constructional Media Services set up cameras and did sound checks—actions that hinted at the surprise production.
At 5 p.m., the Harvard Herald Trumpeters—a group of three undergraduates—interrupted conversation to play “David’s Fanfare.”
Trumpeter Darryl J. Campbell ’06 said he included showtunes from the ’40s and ’50s and Harvard fight songs in this “fanfare” at the request of Band Director Thomas G. Everett.
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes then stepped up to the podium to praise Illingworth and share memories of their many years working together.
“When I see you, I feel young. I see you as you were—and I pray you see me as I was,” said Gomes, drawing laughter from the audience.
Students at the farewell celebration praised Illingworth’s friendly demeanor and accessibility.
Robert M. Pennoyer ’05 described Illingworth—his first-year adviser—as “Harvard’s Santa Claus” both in appearance and personality.
“You are always giving of your time, energy and individual attention,” he said.