If Philip S. Hyde Jr. '52 were preparing to enter Keene State College this year, there's little doubt he would pursue a degree in education. After all, he did spend 33 years as a highly successful math teacher and coach at Thayer High School in Winchester, NH, and at Manchester (CT) High.
However, the athletic Hyde, who passed away on February 23, 2010, at the age of 81, might be in a quandary as to what sport he should play. When Hyde arrived at Keene Teachers College in the fall of 1948, the offerings were few. Basketball and baseball were the staples, with soccer about to be introduced to the influx of male students returning from the war.
Instead of choosing one, Hyde played all three. "He was born to play ball," said teammate and friend Claude Leavitt '51. "It didn't make a difference if it was as small as a baseball or as big as a basketball. Phil had the enviable build of an all-around athlete. He was always dedicated and kept himself in tip-top shape."
When it came to sports, Hyde matched his athleticism with an equally competitive streak that left many an opponent on the short end of a confrontation. In baseball, he pitched, keeping batters at bay with a well-placed fastball. On the basketball court, you didn't want to throw an elbow his way unless you were willing to pay the consequences. A lightning quick forward, Hyde was the soccer team's first offensive star. It's little wonder that Hyde, who earned 13 varsity letters, was inducted into the KSC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987.
Hyde, who maintained his strength and vigor, was noted as a disciplined instructor on the court and in the classroom.
Born in Bellows Falls, VT, and raised in Winchester, NH, Hyde was a naturally gifted athlete. Encouraged by his parents, Philip and Linnia, Hyde demonstrated his athletic prowess at Thayer High, where he found a mentor in the former principal and coach, Paul McNamara.
"At that time, Winchester was a blue-collar town. You had to work for what you received," said Scott, one of Hyde's three children along with daughters Cheryl and Julie. "That was ingrained in my dad."
Hyde served in the Navy during World War II before enrolling at Keene Teachers College. He found time between his athletic pursuits to meet and eventually marry Fran Volkmann Hyde '55 and graduate with honors.
While he waited for his wife to complete her degree, Hyde initially taught and coached at Thayer before accepting a mathematics teaching position at Manchester High, where he remained for 31 years, serving for 15 years as chair of the math department. He also coached cross country and track, tennis, and basketball. During his tenure, the basketball team qualified for five state tournaments and won three CCIL championships.
"Keene really opened up a lot of doors for my dad," said Scott, who teaches fine arts at Keene High and resides in Peterborough. "He had great memories."
Hyde, who maintained his strength and vigor, was noted as a disciplined instructor on the court and in the classroom. Daughter Cheryl, now an associate dean at Temple University, said many of her friends in high school commented about her father's muscular forearms. "They'd say, never mess with Mr. Hyde," she said. "I don't think we realized what a gifted athlete he was." Cheryl said her dad loved to figure things out. "It could be a math problem or sizing up an opponent or figuring out how to play another team."
"It was an exciting time," said Fran, who taught elementary school for 27 years. "Teaching is a wonderful profession. It made us what we are."
In his later years, Hyde developed a passion for tennis. He and his wife were constantly on the court playing against each other or partnering in a spirited game of doubles. "Phil gave me the gift of playing tennis," said Fran, who at the age of 76 still plays three times a week.
Hyde never forgot about Keene State. The family made frequent trips back to Keene to attend basketball or soccer games. "Keene really opened up a lot of doors for my dad," said Scott, who teaches fine arts at Keene High and resides in Peterborough. "He had great memories."
"I can't say enough about Keene and what it did for him," said Fran. "He was so appreciative of Keene State."