LIVES | The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, 1942-2011

President William L. Fox ‘75 applauds as the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, rector of Memorial Church at Harvard, is hooded by University marshals Aileen O’Donoghue and J. Mark Erickson after receving an honorary doctor of divinity degree honoris causa at St. Lawrence University’s 150th Commencement in May 2010. Gomes died on Monday. Image taken by Tara Freeman, University Photographer.

The passage of the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, longtime Pusey Minister of Harvard’s Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at the School of Divinity, is worth noting here. Mrs. F. alerted me to his passage just after I arrived at work this morning. Gomes died Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered in December. He was 68.

Though neither of us are Harvard people, we shared a Laurentian affinity with Dr. Gomes, whom we met last spring when he was awarded an honorary degree at St. Lawrence’s 150th Commencement. As I noted on Facebook earlier today, Gomes delivered the finest speech I’ve heard at any of the dozen St. Lawrence commencements I’ve attended. His oratory, which drew simultaneously on his African-American roots and the best traditions of the English church, was remarkable. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., writing for The New Yorker today, likened Gomes’ style to Cotton Mather’s. Here’s a favorite passage from his delivery in Canton:

… I am obliged to say a few things to you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t think me worthy of the degree that has just been given me. And so, I have given some thought as to what to say to candidates for degrees on this very happy occasion. I love occasions like this. They remind those of us who live in the University, as I do, that there is a greater and a wider world out there. And from time to time we must go into it. This is the day in which you must go into it, for better or worse. I salute my colleagues in the faculty, for we don’t have to go anywhere. That is one of the glories of academia. …

You can download — and I strongly recommend you do download it — Gomes’ speech here.

Indeed, he was terribly stylish. All of us who attended last spring’s commencement remarked on his appearance — watch fobs, three-piece suits, circular, tortoise eyeglasses. Remarkable. He received his degree in Harvard’s crimson robe, a tailed Roman collar and a pinstripe suit.

But far more important than that, Gomes was substantive. He was a member of the sadly dying breed of flamboyantly brilliant American public intellectuals. He was deeply complicated. He made waves in the early 1990s when he came out of the closet. As a child, he was convinced that he was a descendant of the Pilgrims — much of his scholarship was devoted to the beginnings of Yankee culture. He was a staunch Republican who delivered the benediction at Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural but broke with his party late in life to support Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. And he believed the story of Christian faith was ever evolving.

I’ll leave you with this video, in which Gomes addresses the Kennedy School’s Center Public Leadership on the misuse of power by religious authority:

Here’s the Times obituary.

LIVES | Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., 1915-2011

ShriverRober Sargent Shriver Jr. in the mid-1960s.

Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., a giant of the New Frontier and the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps, has died. He was 95.

Born in Westminster, Md. on Nov. 9, 1915, Shriver was a scion of one of that state’s oldest families. His ancestor, David Schriver, signed Maryland’s constitution in 1776. Educated at Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn., Shriver was graduated from Yale in 1938. While in New Haven, he was chairman of the Yale Daily News, a member of Delta Epsilon Kappa and of Scroll and Key. He went on to earn a law degree from Yale in 1941.

During World War II, Shriver served in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant. Returning to civilian life, he became an editor at Newsweek. He met his future wife, Eunice Kennedy, in 1946 and was subsequently hired by her father, Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, to help manage Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Shriver and Kennedy married in 1953 in a service performed by Cardinal Francis Spelman at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Shrivers called Chicago home and Mr. Shriver dove into Democratic politics, so much so that he was considered as a candidate for Illinois governor in 1960. Those plans were dashed by the presidential candidacy of his brother-in-law, John F. Kennedy. Shriver joined the campaign and, after the election, set about designing and then administering the Peace Corps, created by an executive order in March 1961.

Shriver led the Peace Corps into the Johnson administration and went on to design President Johnson’s War on Poverty. He later served as Ambassador to France from 1968 to 1970 and was the running mate for the doomed presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972. His own presidential run in 1976 lasted only months.

In retirement from political life, Shriver was active as an attorney and as chairman of the Special Olympics. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. His wife, Eunice, predeceased him in 2009.

Here’s the Times obituary.

And here’s a gallery of images taken between 1961 and about 1966 from the LIFE archive:

CLIP | Sargent Shriver, 1961

LIVES | Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy adviser and speechwriter, 1928-2010

SorensenPresident-elect John F. Kennedy reviews documents with his aide and speechwriter, Theodore C. Sorensen, in Decmber 1960. This photo was taken by Paul Schutzer is presented courtesy of the LIFE magazine photo archive.

Theodore C. Sorensen, speechwriter to President John F. Kennedy and author of the most memorable words in 20th-century American politics, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82 and had been suffering complications from a stroke he endured a week ago.

Born in 1928 in Lincoln, Neb., Sorensen first went to work for then Sen. Kennedy in 1953 after having earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Nebraska. He went on to play a critical role in drafting sections of Kennedy’s much-praised “Profiles in Courage,” published in 1956. That book proved a stepping-stone toward a four-year march toward the White House.

Sorensen was a key player on the Kennedy team in 1960 and was the architect of the 1961 inaugural address, one of the finest ever written, that declared “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

After the assasination, Sorensen practiced law and remained active in Democratic politics. He authored a 783-page memoir of the administration that was titled, simply, “Kennedy.” In 1976, he declined an offer from President Carter to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. He was an earlier supporter of President Obama’s and had recently expressed worries over the current administration’s handling of the war in Afghanistan.

Here’s a small gallery of Sorensen images from the LIFE magazine archive:

SCENE | The Milligans are wed in Manhattan

MilligansMr. and Mrs. Sean R. Milligan, minutes after their marriage on Saturday, Sept. 11 at the Church of the Incarnation in Murray Hill.

We spent the better part of last weekend in Manhattan celebrating the marriage of very dear friends.

Molly McLaughlin was wed to Sean Milligan at the Church of the Incarnation in Murray Hill by the Rev. J. Douglas Ousley, the church’s rector. The Rev. Donald S. McPhail, a close friend of the bride’s family and past rector of St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea Church in Bay Shore, New York, took part in the ceremony.

Molly and Sean, not surprisingly, are very good St. Lawrence friends.

I had the privilege of serving as an usher and Mrs. F. was in charge of getting the male members of the wedding party set with their boutonnières — something Molly had done for us when we got married.

Church of the Incarnation is a Victorian marvel and was the perfect site for this wedding. There was an undeniable majesty to the service that was amplified by beautiful stained glass, sculpture and architecture.

A fabulous reception followed at the New York Athletic Club. As I remarked in a toast I gave to the bride and groom, it was deeply appropriate that the room we celebrated in faced north, out past the lights of our resilient city, toward the place where the Milligan romance was born.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the weekend, which includes a few shots from the Friday night reception hosted by the groom’s father, Charlie, at The Water Club.

SCENE | The Furnarys are wed in Stowe

FurnarysMr. and Mrs. Timothy P. Furnary, minutes after marrying Saturday afternoon in Stowe, Vt.

A wonderful pair of very close friends exchanged vows to one another on a meadow just below Mount Mansfield last Saturday afternoon.

Lindsey Wetmiller was wed to Timothy Furnary by the Rev. Susan Cooke Kittredge in a lovely ceremony at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vt. Mrs. F. and I were both in the wedding party and I had the privilege of standing up as Tim’s best man.

Countless Laurentians were in attendance and another member of the wedding party who went to St. Lawrence had the good sense to hang one of our scarlet-and-brown flags above the bar. We used another, larger flag that belongs to me, for the St. Lawrence magazine photo. My flag has been present at nearly a dozen Laurentian weddings and I hope it gets use at dozens more.

Stowe was chosen because the bride grew up in Vermont and the groom learned to ski in the Green Mountain state.

The whole weekend, though — from the Friday welcome reception thrown Friday night by the groom’s parents at the Stowe Mountain Lodge, to the fantastic groomsmen’s lunch we had at Norma’s, Topnotch’s swell restaurant, to the morning-after brunch at the iconic Shed restaurant — was a hoot. We had a terrific time.

A great many thanks to Mark and Melody Wetmiller, parents of the bride, for being such gracious hosts.

The Furnarys are honeymooning in Italy, visiting Rome and the Amalfi coast among other destinations. They’ll reside in New York.

Here’s a gallery, with thanks to contributor Will Briganti for manning my lense during and just after the ceremony.

ART| John Held, Jr. illustrations define the Jazz Age

Held1The cover of the Dec. 17, 1925 number of Life is graced with a John Held Jr. illustration of an athletic flapper.

I first became aware of the illustrative genius of John Held Jr. while researching a paper on “The Great Gatsby” in 1995 or 1996. His images of twiggy, angular young women gave life to the image of the Flapper, those charming, hard-drinking, hard-smoking and liberated women of the glorious Jazz Age.

Born Jan. 10, 1889 in Salt Lake City Utah, Held sold his first illustration to Life at age 15. At 16, he joined the staff of the Salt Lake Tribune as a sports cartoonist and by 1912, he had come east to the capital of American culture, New York. After the interruption of World War I, Held began successfully placing his work in a range of magazines, but his covers for Life, depicting the glories, foibles and evolving mores of the decade. Held’s subjects drink, they smoke, they play sports, drive cars and generally carouse. Simply put, they are icons of 20th-century illustration and graphic design.

When not drawing illustrations, Held occupied himself with woodcuts, creating cartoons for The New Yorker, which was edited by Harold Ross, an old pal from Salt Lake City.

After the crash, Held returned to newspaper work. Two strips, “Margie” and “Rah Rah Rosalie” had brief broadsheet runs in the early 1930s. Though his work is identified almost exclusively with the 1920s, he continued to work as an illustrator until his death in 1958.

LIVES | J.D. Salinger, reclusive literary icon, 1919-2010

SalingerJ.D. Salinger.

J.D. Salinger, the reclusive writer whose 1951 novel, “Catcher in the Rye,” is considered one the great American novels, has died. He was 91.

Salinger, born the son of a well-off Jewish father and a Scots-Irish mother on Jan. 1, 1919, was born and raised in Manhattan. His education was a long journey with a number of unimpressive stops: McBurney School on the West Side, Valley Forge, which became the model for Holden Caulfield’s Pencey Prep, and brief stays at both New York University and Ursinus in Pennsylvania. “Slight Rebellion Off Madison” was Salinger’s first short story accepted in The New Yorker. He submitted it in 1941 but the magazine held it for five years, as the Times reports, perhaps because its editors did not think it responsible to support an author with a checkered educational past like Salinger’s. It was a sketch that later evolved into “Catcher.”

After service in the Counter Intelligence Corps of the Army during World War II, Salinger returned to New York and resumed his career, landing several pieces in The New Yorker before “Catcher” was published in July 1951. Salinger followed it with “Nine Stories” in 1953, “Franny and Zooey,” published in 1961, and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction,” in 1963.

Salinger has lived a hermetic existence in Cornish, N.H., since he moved there in 1957. Current and former awkward teenage boys the world over mourn him.

Here’s the Times obituary.

To honor the author, The New Yorker has put all of his short stories on its Web site. You can explore his work here.

LIVES| Louis S. Auchincloss, chronicler of patrician New York, 1917-2010

AuchLouis Auchincloss.

Louis Stanton Auchincloss, the scion of a venerated New York family, attorney and celebrated novelist died Tuesday evening at his Manhattan home. He was 92.

Born on Long Island on Sept. 17, 1917, Auchincloss grew up in an aristocratic New York that has largely vanished. Educated at Groton, Yale and the University of Virginia Law School, he served in the Office of Naval Intelligence during World War II. At Virginia, he discovered a passion for estates law; after the War, he joined the Wall Street firm of Sullivan and Cromwell.

His first novel, “The Indifferent Children,” was published under the pseudonym of Andrew Lee in 1947. In 1954, he joined Hawkins, Delafield & Wood, where he remained until 1987, practicing trust law. “The Rector of Justin,” for which he received the most critical praise and is perhaps best remembered for, was published in 1964. Other successes included “The Embezzler,” “Portrait in Brownstone,” and “A World of Profit.” His final novel, “Last of the Old Guard,” was published in 2008. In his chronicling of the decay of America’s ruling class, Auchincloss often found himself compared to the likes of John P. Marquand, John O’Hara. Still, his efforts are better compared to Edith Wharton, who also devoted her work to the people and institutions of Old New York.

In its obituary, the Times quotes Gore Vidal, an Auchincloss admirer:

“Of all our novelists, Auchincloss is the only one who tells us how our rulers behave in their banks and their boardrooms, their law offices and their clubs,” Gore Vidal once wrote. “Yet such is the vastness of our society and the remoteness of academics and book chatters from actual power that those who should be most in this writer’s debt have no idea what a useful service he renders us by revealing and, in some ways, by betraying his class.”

Mr. Vidal added, “Not since Dreiser has an American writer had so much to tell us about the role of money in our lives.”

LIVES| Thomas P.F. Hoving, retired director of the Met, 1931-2009

HovingThomas P.F. Hoving chats with Mayor John Lindsay during a walking tour of one of New York’s parks in 1966. Hoving erved briefly as Lindsay’s parks chief before assuming the reins of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas Pearsall Field Hoving, the groundbreaking director of the Metropolitan Museum whose reign secured its place as the nation’s greatest museum, has died. He was 78 and suffered from lung cancer.

Born in Manhattan Jan. 15, 1931, Mr. Hoving was educated at Buckley, Eaglebrook, Exeter and Hotchkiss. After Hotchkiss, he worked as a copy boy for the late Daily Mirror. He was graduated from Princeton in 1953 and he later earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in art history.

From Hoving’s Times obituary:

He earned a master’s, then a doctorate, in art history at Princeton. Then, in 1958, after a lecture he gave at the Frick Collection on the Annibale Carracci frescoes at the Farnese Palace in Rome, a man he didn’t recognize and who didn’t introduce himself invited Mr. Hoving to take a walk up Fifth Avenue to the Met to see a marble table that had once graced the palace. The man turned out to be James J. Rorimer, the Met’s director, who offered Mr. Hoving a job.

Mr. Hoving remained at the Met until 1965 when, upon the election of John V. Lindsay as the city’s mayor, he was named parks commissioner. His stint at Parks was short — when Met director James Rorimer died in 1966, Hoving was named his replacement.

Hoving’s run at the top of America’s greatest art institution was transformational.

A character whose existence could only have been possible in the lost New York he inhabited, Hoving vastly expanded the collections of the museum. He landed the Temple of Dendur, an entire prairie-style house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, expanded the American wing, added collections of Islamic, African and Pacific art and more.

Hoving was a hero for all of this in my household, wherein my mother never ceased to sing his praises. “King of Confessors,” the director’s 1981 memoir about the museum’s acquisition of the Bury St. Edmunds cross, a Medieval ivory masterpiece and other treasures, was required reading for her son.

A hero of Old New York, he will be greatly missed.

UPDATE: Here’s Hoving with Barbaralee Diamonstein in the 1970s:

Next Page » on Facebook