In Memoriam: John Whitehead

In Memoriam: John WhiteheadIt was with great sadness that HDS marked the passing last February of John Whitehead, a member of the Dean's Council, honorary chair of the Campaign for HDS, and a great friend to the School for more than a generation.

Mr. Whitehead was not an alumnus of HDS—he graduated from Harvard Business School in 1947—but religion played a central role in the formation of his character and in his career. He spoke proudly of his upbringing in “a churchgoing Episcopalian family” and of the Quaker principles that shaped his undergraduate education at Haverford College and extended through his life. After a successful career as an investor, he served as U.S. deputy secretary of state from 1985 to 1989, where he found that religion was the thread that connected many of the diplomatic challenges he faced around the world.

These experiences, along with his devotion to the wider Harvard community, accounted for Mr. Whitehead's affection for the Divinity School, where he was one of the most loyal supporters. He believed deeply in the School's capacity to study global religion, to bring together people of all faiths, and to educate ethical leaders. This last was a particular target of his philanthropy.

Mr. Whitehead's support for HDS and its mission will carry far into the future. No School ever had a more gracious or generous friend.