An heir to the S&H Green Stamp fortune, Walter Beinecke, Jr. left school at age 15 to join the Merchant Marine. Although he never resumed his own formal education, his commitment to learning — and especially to Hamilton — ran deep. Appointed a charter trustee in 1960, Beinecke chaired the trustee committee that worked with President Robert McEwen to conceive and create Kirkland College, and later served as its first chairman of the board. The idea was to establish several cooperating undergraduate colleges clustered near Hamilton, each independent, each coordinate with the others, of which the first would be a liberal arts college for women.
Throughout his life Beinecke showed equal devotion to his beloved island of Nantucket, which had fallen into decay after World War II. He purchased much of the town’s waterfront and renovated it building-by-building in order to boost the area’s prestige and stimulate its economy. He also left his mark on Hamilton’s architectural landscape when the bright yellow Beinecke Student Activities Village was completed in 1993, linking the north and south sides of campus. It was named in his honor, commemorating a commitment to learning that is also reflected in Hamilton’s Beinecke Lesser Antilles Collection, which contains some 2,500 rare books, articles, maps and other printed materials he presented to the College. Beinecke died in 2004.