Bob Sides ’34, Former Director of Admissions, Passes Away

Bob Sides ’34, retired former Director of Admissions and Instructor in Mathematics and Celestial Navigation, passed away on October 21st at age 96.

After graduating from Harvard University in 1938, Sides worked at Andover from 1938 until 1972, with a brief two-year intermission from 1947 to 1949, during which he worked as Assistant Dean of Sophomores at Harvard, according to a press release on the Andover website. He served as the Director of Admissions at Andover from 1954 until his retirement.

Sides also coached sailing, tennis, golf and squash and was a member of the Athletic Council at Andover. In 2009, Sides was inducted into the Andover Athletics Hall of Honor.

“We talk about what kind of a school we are and what our principles are, like ‘youth from every quarter’ and ‘knowledge and goodness,’ and [Sides] exemplified all of those things,” said Nicholas Kip ’60, Instructor in Classics, who was a family friend and later a colleague of Sides.

When Kip applied to Andover in 1956 as a student, Sides, the then Director of Admissions, decided to admit Kip. Kip recalls his admission interview with Sides, who was the sole orchestrator of the entire admissions process. “He was one of these not just polite, but dignified people and he put people—both kids and parents—at ease,” said Kip.

Though Sides spent the majority of his time running admissions, he also taught math and celestial navigation. His celestial navigation class was held on the third floor of Morse Hall, where his classes studied the skies through the windows.

Bill Gillard ’51, one of Sides’s former students, said, “My favorite class at Andover was Bob Sides’s course on celestial navigation. He was an inspiring teacher, one who certainly had an impact on my becoming a teacher.”

Outside of his many roles on campus, Sides was instrumental in creating both the Secondary School Admissions Testing (SSAT) program and the Advanced Placement (AP) program, according to the press release.

In addition, he devoted time to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, a conservation group, as well as the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, according to the program from the 2009 induction ceremony for the Athletics Hall of Honor.

Sides was also an avid sailor and made lifelong friends through his passion for the sport, which he picked up as a student at Harvard. Over the course of his sailing career, Sides became a well-known figure on the Atlantic sailing scene. He won championships at the national and world levels and was inducted into the third class of the Yacht Racing Hall of Fame, according to the program.

Gillard said, “I had the great pleasure of sailing against [Sides] in the 210-class while crewing for several summers on a close friend’s boat at Cape Ann and Marblehead Race Week. He was a wonderful person and a great competitor.”

Sides is survived by his five children, Kate S. “Kitty” Flather AA’59, Robert W. “Buck” Sides Jr. ’61, Sophie S. “Posie” Cowan, Lucie S. Bourdon, and Natalie S. “Lee” Miller, according to the press release. He had 16 grandchildren, nine of whom attended Andover.