Thane Benedict III

Died April 30, 2002

College: Saybrook

Thane caught our attention from the opening day of our freshman year. Steve Adolphus recalls Thane’s dedication to his music, seeing him move his cello into our dorm and then the wonderful sounds of the Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello floating down the hallways at night. Steve Keene will always remember our unique nickname for Thane – “NMN” (pronounced “numb nuh”) – the three initials standing for “No Middle Name” on certain official forms.

I roomed across the hall in Saybrook for three years and was Thane’s roommate for a year in graduate school; I recall that Thane possessed one of the most incisive and unprepossessing minds in our class. Raised in southern Ohio, Thane personified the image of a solid, sensible, affable, unpretentious Midwesterner. A philosophy major (Phi Beta Kappa), Thane eschewed fancy words (like “eschew”) because he could use plain, straightforward English to distill arcane, complex ideas into crystalline prose – a talent that he applied well at Yale Law School and in his career as an attorney.

Despite his extraordinary intelligence, talents and accomplishments, Thane remained an unassuming personality, a steadying influence among a number of us high-spirited, sophomoric residents of Tilden entryway at Saybrook. Thane’s judgment that some bizarre incident was “unbelievable,” gave us pause to reflect. During his first year at Yale Law, our idea of excitement was to end a night of studying by playing five quick games of go-moku (Japanese version of tic-tac-toe five-in-a-row). Thane settled down while a young man, one of the earliest among us to succumb to marriage, wedding his longtime steady girlfriend, Kathy, soon after his first year at Yale Law.

—by Richard Lacey