Ernest “Boots” Mead
Mr. Mead was an extraordinary teacher, mentor, and friend to students for over five decades.
Whenever he encountered a particularly interesting young man or woman, he invited them to join him for a walk through the gardens of the Lawn, or tea at the Colonnade Club, or dinner at his home. Within minutes, he would draw out each student’s talents, hopes, and aspirations. Within days, he would introduce them to other students of like mind, to University organizations where they might flourish, or to faculty and administrators who could foster their unique abilities. Within weeks, that young person’s college experience would become dramatically richer, as would the entire University community.
If a student were truly lucky, Mr. Mead would invite him or her to participate in one of his famous 4th-year seminars, in which the students chose the topics and prepared the lessons.
Mr. Mead was also an important advisor, official or behind-the-scenes, to countless University organizations and was even inducted into a fraternity in his sixties.
When he retired, hundreds of his former students organized a black-tie dinner in his honor, and spent the evening sharing heartfelt tributes.
Even in retirement, Mr. Mead continued teaching his seminar to the age of 94. And for hundreds of alumni, no visit to Charlottesville was complete without dropping by his house for a chat.
In 2002, a group of former students created The Mead Endowment to inspire the next generation of faculty to "walk in the footsteps of Boots."
He passed away on February 13, 2014.
But his legacy lives on.