Robert Alphonso Taft, I (1889 - 1953) MP

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Birthplace: Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., Ohio
Death: Died in New York, New York, USA
Occupation: Senator, US Senator
Managed by: Jason Peter Herbert
Last Updated:

About Robert Alphonso Taft, I

Senator Robert A. Taft

Funeral Without Formal Classification

31 July-4 August 1953

Robert A. Taft, son of former President William Howard Taft and renowned Republican senator from Ohio, died of cancer in a New York City hospital on 31 July 1953. The Senate, promptly adopting a resolution offered by Senator William F. Knowland of California, the acting Republican floor leader, ordered a State Funeral to be held for Mr. Taft on 3 August.

Under funeral plans and policies published in 1949 and then in force, a State Funeral was conducted only for a President, former President, President-elect, or "other persons when specifically designated by the President of the United States." The Senate resolution hence was extraordinary. But since the U.S. Congress controls the use of the Capitol itself and a State Funeral is distinguished by the period of lying in state in the Capitol rotunda, there was authority for the Senate action.

Nor was established procedure followed in delegating the responsibility for arranging the funeral of Senator Taft. According to current directives, the Commanding General, Military District of Washington, was "the designated representative of the President of the United States for the purpose of making all arrangements including participation of all Armed Forces and coordination with the State Department for participation of all branches of the Government and Diplomatic Corps" for a State Funeral. But in arranging the ceremonies for Senator Taft, the Senate assumed responsibility and the Military District of Washington handled only armed forces participation.

Except for the lying in state period at the Capitol, the ceremonies planned by Senate officials, working closely with the Taft family, were decidedly different from the current prescriptions for a State Funeral. On 2 August Senator Taft's body was to be brought from New York to Washington and taken to the Capitol to lie in state in the rotunda, which was to be open to the public from 1500 to 2100. At noon on 3 August a memorial service was to be held in the rotunda, attended by the Taft family, invited civil and military officials, and members of the diplomatic corps. Immediately after this service the Senator's body was to be flown to Cincinnati, home of the Taft family, where, as the family wished, a private funeral service and burial were to take place on 4 August. In none of the movements was there to be the large military escort and cortege described in the existing concept of a State Funeral.

Early on 2 August Air Force officers from Mitchel Field, Long Island, arrived by sedan at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in New York, where Senator Taft's body had been taken on 31 July, to escort the body to the airfield from which it would be flown to Washington. The hearse bearing the casket and the sedan carrying the escorts left the funeral establishment about 0900. At Mitchel Field the casket was put aboard a plane furnished by the Military Air Transport Service. Two of Senator Taft's four sons, Robert A. Taft, Jr., and Lloyd B. Taft, and their wives had come from Cincinnati to accompany the body on the flight to Washington. Another son and his wife met the plane at Washington National Airport. Body bearers and a guard of honor representing all of the armed forces except the Coast Guard handled the casket and acted as escort to the Capitol.

At the Capitol the Lincoln catafalque, which in 1930 had held the casket of Senator Taft's father, stood in the center of the rotunda, with several floral pieces nearby. (The Taft family had requested that no flowers be sent, preferring that any offerings be made in the form of gifts to charities.) When the small procession from the airport reached the Capitol, the casket was borne into the rotunda and placed on the catafalque and an honor guard, representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force and organized into reliefs by service, immediately took post at the bier.

From 1500 until 2100 on 2 August, the rotunda was open to the public. Persons paying their respects entered the west door of the rotunda, filed by the closed casket in two lines, one on either side of the bier, and left by the east door. By 2 100 between 30,000 and 35,000 people had passed through the hall.

During the morning of 3 August, in preparation for the noontime memorial service, the casket and catafalque were moved from the center of the rotunda to a position near the west entrance, and the floral pieces were rearranged around the bier. Some 900 chairs, which fairly filled the chamber, were set up. No facilities for photographic, radio, or televised coverage of the ceremony were allowed.

In the Senate resolution ordering the State Funeral for Senator Taft, invitations to the memorial service were extended to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his cabinet, the entire House of Representatives, all justices of the Supreme Court, the military chiefs of all the uniformed services, including the chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, and representatives of the diplomatic corps. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, a friend of Mr. Taft's for many years, received Mrs. Taft's personal invitation to attend. An invitation from the Senate also had gone to former President Harry S. Truman, but he was not able to attend.

Within the hour before the scheduled beginning of the service, the US Marine Band took seats in the rotunda to play during the arrival of the invited audience. At 1140, as the band began "America the Beautiful," the members of the Senate entered the rotunda by the north door, marching two abreast but in no special order of seniority. Next to enter were the Chief Justice of the United States and associate justices of the Supreme Court. Then, through the south door, came the members of the House of Representatives. General and Mrs. MacArthur, and the general's aide, Maj. Gen. Courtney Whitney, and Mrs. Whitney entered about the same time, followed by invited military dignitaries. The diplomatic corps representatives were next to arrive. Mrs. Taft, who was an invalid, then entered in a wheelchair, escorted by two of her sons. Her other two sons followed. About five minutes before noon the last of the guests-President and Mrs. Eisenhower and the members of the cabinet-came into the rotunda.

Upon the arrival of the President and his party, the Marine honor guard on duty at the bier was replaced by a relief that included a soldier, a sailor, an air man, and a marine. After two minutes of silence had been observed, the Reverend Frederick Brown Harris, the Senate Chaplain, stood before the casket and offered the invocation. Senator John W. Bricker, Mr. Taft's Republican colleague from Ohio, then rose and delivered a eulogy. When Senator Bricker had finished, the Reverend Bernard Braskamp, Chaplain of the House of Representatives, gave the benediction, and the Marine Band concluded the service by playing the national anthem.

Shortly after the memorial service, Senator Taft's casket was taken from the rotunda and, under escort, returned to Washington National Airport, where it was placed aboard a plane of the Military Air Transport Service for the flight to Cincinnati. Two of the Senator's sons, their wives, and I. Jack Martin, who had been an administrative assistant to Mr. Taft, accompanied the body on the flight. Mrs. Taft and the remaining members of her family took a later plane for Lunken Airport in Cincinnati.

The plane bearing Senator Taft's body landed at the Greater Cincinnati Airport in Boone County, Kentucky. Morticians of the Schaefer and Busby funeral establishment of Cincinnati met the plane. Kentucky state highway patrolmen and Cincinnati motorcycle police escorted the hearse bearing the casket from the airport to the funeral establishment, where the body was to remain until the funeral service on 4 August.

Actually, two funeral services were conducted for Senator Taft on 4 August, both at noon. The private service was held in Indian Hill Church, a Protestant Episcopal-Presbyterian Church which the Tafts attended in the suburb where they had lived for many years. A public service was held in downtown Cincinnati in the Christ Protestant Episcopal Church to accommodate the many friends of Senator Taft who would be unable to attend the private service. Arranged by Mayor Carl W. Rich of Cincinnati, it was conducted jointly by the Right Reverend Henry Wise Hobson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, and the Reverend Morris F. Arnold, rector of Christ Church.

The private service was conducted by the Reverend Luther M. Tucker, rector of Indian Hill Church. Following the funeral service, Senator Taft was buried in

Indian Hill Church Cemetery; he was the first person to be buried there. It was Mrs. Taft's wish that her husband's grave be close to the Taft home.

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Robert Alphonso Taft (September 8, 1889 - July 31, 1953), of the Taft political family of Ohio, was a Republican United States Senator and as a prominent conservative spokesman was the leading opponent of the New Deal in the Senate from 1939 to 1953. He led the successful effort by the Conservative coalition to curb the power of labor unions. He failed in his quest to win the Presidential nomination of the candidate of the Republican Party in 1940, 1948 and 1952.

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Robert Alphonso Taft (September 8, 1889 - July 31, 1953), of the Taft political family of Ohio, was a Republican United States Senator and as a prominent conservative spokesman was the leading opponent of the New Deal in the Senate from 1939 to 1953. He led the successful effort by the Conservative coalition to curb the power of labor unions. He failed in his quest to win the Presidential nomination of the candidate of the Republican Party in 1940, 1948 and 1952.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Alphonso_Taft

Robert Alphonso Taft (September 8, 1889 – July 31, 1953), of the Taft political family of Cincinnati, was a Republican United States Senator and a prominent conservative statesman. As the leading opponent of the New Deal in the Senate from 1939 to 1953, he led the successful effort by the conservative coalition to curb the power of labor unions, and was a major proponent of the foreign policy of non-interventionism. However, he failed in his quest to win the presidential nomination of the Republican Party in 1940, 1948 and 1952. From 1940 to 1952 he battled New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, the leader of the GOP's moderate "Eastern Establishment" for control of the Republican Party. In 1957, a Senate committee chaired by John F. Kennedy named Taft as one of the five greatest senators in American history.

Family

Taft was a product of one of America's most prominent political families. He was the grandson of Attorney General and Secretary of War Alphonso Taft, and the son of President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Helen Herron Taft. His younger brother, Charles Taft, served as the Mayor of Cincinnati and was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Governor of Ohio in 1952. As a boy he spent four years in the Philippines, where his father was governor. He was first in his class at the Taft School (run by his uncle), at Yale College (1910) and at Harvard Law School (1913), where he edited the Harvard Law Review. After finishing first in his class at Yale and Harvard Law School, he practiced for four years with the firm of Maxwell and Ramsey (now Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP) in Cincinnati, Ohio, his family's ancestral city. After a two-year stint in Washington working for the Food and Drug Administration, he returned to Cincinnati and opened his own law office. In 1924, he and his brother Charles helped form the law partnership Taft, Stettinius, and Hollister, with whom he continued to be associated until his death and which continues to carry his name today.

On October 17, 1914, he married Martha Wheaton Bowers, the heiress daughter of Lloyd Wheaton Bowers, who had served as the United States Solicitor General under his father. Taft himself appeared taciturn and coldly intellectual, characteristics that were offset by his gregarious wife, who served the same role his mother had for his father, as a confidante and powerful asset to her husband's political career. In 1949 Martha suffered a severe stroke which left her an invalid; after her stroke Taft faithfully assisted his wife, even helping to feed and take care of her at public functions, a fact which, his admirers noted, belied his public image as a cold and uncaring person. They had four sons including Robert Taft Jr. (1917–1993), who was also elected to the U.S. Senate; Horace Dwight Taft, who became a professor of physics and dean at Yale; and William Howard Taft III (1915–1991), who became ambassador to Ireland. Two of Taft's grandsons are Robert Alphonso Taft II (1942–), Governor of Ohio from 1999 to 2007, and William Howard Taft IV (1945–), a statesman and Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1984 to 1989.

Early public career

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Taft attempted to join the U.S. Army, but he was rejected by the army due to his poor eyesight. Instead, he joined the legal staff of the Food and Drug Administration where he met Herbert Hoover, who became his idol. In 1918–1919 he was in Paris as legal adviser for the American Relief Administration, Hoover's agency which distributed food to war-torn Europe. He learned to distrust governmental bureaucracy as inefficient and detrimental to the rights of the individual principles he promoted throughout his career. He strongly urged membership in the League of Nations, but generally distrusted European politicians. He strongly endorsed the idea of a powerful World Court that would enforce international law, but no such idealized court ever existed during his lifetime. He returned to Cincinnati in late 1919, promoted Hoover for president in 1920, and opened a law firm with his brother Charles Taft. In 1920 he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker of the House in 1926. In 1930 he was elected to the state senate, but was defeated for reelection in 1932; it would be the only defeat in a general election he would suffer in his political career. His period of service in the Ohio state legislature was most notable for his efforts to modernize the state's antiquated tax laws. He was an outspoken opponent of the Ku Klux Klan and he did not support prohibition.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Taft was a powerful figure in local and state political and legal circles, and was known as a loyal Republican who never threatened to bolt the party. He confessed in 1922 that "while I have no difficulty talking, I don't know how to do any of the eloquence business which makes for enthusiasm or applause."[3] A lackluster speaker who did not mix well or glad-hand supporters, nevertheless Taft was a tireless worker with a broad range of policy and political interests. His total grasp of the complex details of every issue impressed reporters and politicians. (Democrats joked that "Taft has the best mind in Washington, until he makes it up.") Taft's loyalty to the conservative politicians who controlled Ohio's Republican Party had a price, as it often caused conflict with his younger brother Charles, who as a local politician in Cincinnati had gained a reputation as a party maverick and liberal. However, despite their occasional policy disagreements, Charles loyally supported all three of his brother's presidential bids.

In 1917 Taft and his wife Martha bought a 46-acre (190,000 m2) farm in Indian Hill, Ohio, a well-to-do suburb of Cincinnati. Called "Sky Farm", it would serve as Taft's primary residence for the rest of his life. The Tafts gradually made extensive renovations that turned the small farmhouse into a sixteen-room mansion. On the farm Taft enjoyed growing strawberries, asparagus, and potatoes for profit. During the summer Taft often vacationed with his wife and children at the Taft family's summer home at Murray Bay, located in the Canadian province of Quebec.[4]

U.S. Senator

Taft was elected to the first of his three terms as U.S. Senator in 1938.

Opposition to New Deal

Cooperating with conservative southern Democrats, he led the Conservative Coalition that opposed the New Deal. The Republican gains in the 1938 congressional elections, combined with the creation of the Conservative Coalition, had stopped the expansion of the New Deal. However, Taft saw his mission as not only stopping the growth of the New Deal, but also as eliminating many of the government programs that had already come from it. During his first term in the Senate, Taft criticized what he believed was the inefficiency and waste of many New Deal programs, and of the need to let private enterprise and businesses restore the nation's economy instead of relying upon government programs to end the Great Depression. He condemned the New Deal as socialist and attacked deficit spending, high farm subsidies, governmental bureaucracy, the National Labor Relations Board, and nationalized health insurance. However, he did not always follow conservative ideology; for instance, after investigating the lack of adequate housing in the nation he supported public housing programs.[5] He also supported the Social Security program. Taft set forward a conservative program that promoted economic growth, individual economic opportunity, adequate social welfare, strong national defense (primarily the Navy and Air Force), and non-involvement in European wars. He also strongly opposed the military draft on the principle that it limited a young man's freedom of choice. Broadly speaking, in terms of political philosophy Taft was a libertarian; he opposed nearly all forms of governmental interference in both the national economy and in the private lives of citizens.[6]

Opposition to World War II

Taft's greatest prominence during his first term came not from his fight against the New Deal and President Franklin Roosevelt, but rather from his vigorous and outspoken opposition to U.S. involvement in the Second World War. A staunch non-interventionist, Taft believed that America should avoid any involvement in European or Asian wars and concentrate instead on solving its domestic problems. He believed that a strong U.S. military, combined with the natural geographic protection of the broad Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, would be adequate to protect America even if the Nazis overran all of Europe. Between the outbreak of war in September 1939 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 Taft opposed nearly all attempts to aid Allied forces fighting the Nazis in Europe. His outspoken opposition to aiding the Allied forces earned him strong criticism from many liberal Republicans, such as Wendell Willkie and Thomas E. Dewey, who felt that America could best protect itself by fully supporting the British and their allies. Although Taft fully supported the American war effort after Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on Japan by the U.S. congress on December 8, 1941, he continued to harbor a deep suspicion of American involvement in postwar military alliances with other nations, including NATO.

1944 re-election

In 1944 Taft was nearly defeated in his bid for a second term in the Senate; his Democratic opponent, William G. Pickrel, received major support from Ohio's labor unions and internationalists and nearly won the upset victory. He became chairman of the Senate Republican Conference in 1944.

Condemnation of the Nuremberg Trials

Taft condemned the postwar Nuremberg Trials as victor's justice in which the people who won the war were the prosecutors, the judges and the alleged victims, all at the same time. Taft condemned the trials as a violation of the most basic principles of American justice and internationally accepted standards of justice.[7] Although his opposition to the trials was strongly criticized by many prominent politicians and journalists, other observers, such as Senator John F. Kennedy in his bestselling Profiles in Courage, applauded Taft's principled stand even in the face of great criticism.

1947 Taft–Hartley Labor Act

When the Republicans took control of Congress in 1947, Taft focused on labor-management relations as Chair of the Senate Labor Committee. Decrying the effect of the Wagner Act in tilting the balance toward labor unions, he wrote the 1947 Taft–Hartley Act, which remains the basic labor law. It bans "unfair" union practices, outlaws closed shops, and authorizes the President to seek federal court injunctions to impose an eighty-day cooling-off period if a strike threatened the national interest. Taft displayed all of his parliamentary skills in getting the bill through Congress; when President Harry Truman vetoed it, Taft then convinced both houses of Congress to overturn the veto.

2nd term issues

From 1947 to 1949, when the Republicans controlled the Senate, Taft was his party's leading voice in domestic policy. He was reluctant to support farm subsidies, a position that hurt the GOP in rural areas (especially in the Midwest) in the 1948 elections. Moving a bit to the left, he supported federal aid to education (which did not pass) and cosponsored the Taft-Wagner-Ellender Housing Act to subsidize public housing in inner cities. In terms of foreign policy he was non-interventionist and did not see Stalin's Soviet Union as a major threat. Nor did he pay much attention to internal Communism. The true danger, he believed, was big government and runaway spending. He supported the Truman Doctrine, reluctantly approved the Marshall Plan, and opposed NATO as unnecessary and provocative to the Soviets. He took the lead among Republicans in condemning President Harry S. Truman's handling of the Korean War.

1950 re-election

In 1950 Taft ran a more effective campaign in which he wooed factory workers; he won a third term by a wide margin.

By the start of his third term in the Senate, Taft had been given the nickname "Mr. Republican"; he was the chief ideologue and spokesperson for the conservatism of the Republican Party of that era, and he was the acknowledged national leader of the GOP's conservative faction. (Patterson, p. 335)

Presidential ambitions

1940

Taft first sought the Republican (GOP) presidential nomination in 1940, but lost to Wendell Willkie. Taft was regarded as a strong contender, but his outspoken opposition support of non-interventionist foreign policies, and his opposition to the New Deal in domestic policy led many liberal Republicans to reject his candidacy. At the 1940 GOP Convention Willkie—a onetime Democrat and corporate executive who had never run for political office—came from behind to beat Taft and several other candidates for the nomination. In the 1944 presidential campaign Taft was not a candidate, instead he supported Governor John Bricker of Ohio, a fellow conservative, for the GOP nomination. However, Bricker was defeated by New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey; Bricker then became Dewey's running mate.

1948 and 1952

In 1948 Taft made a second try for the GOP nomination, but was defeated by his arch-rival, Governor Dewey, who led the GOP's moderate/liberal wing.

In 1952 Taft made his third and final try for the GOP nomination; it also proved to be his strongest effort. He had the solid backing of the party's conservative wing, and with Dewey no longer an active candidate many political pundits regarded him as the frontrunner. However, the race changed when Dewey and other GOP moderates were able to convince Dwight D. Eisenhower, the most popular general of World War II, to run for the nomination. According to biographer Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower agreed to run in part because of his fear that Taft's non-interventionist views in foreign policy might unintentionally benefit the Soviet Union in the Cold War.[citation needed]

The fight between Taft and Eisenhower for the GOP nomination was one of the closest and most bitter in American political history. When the Republican Convention opened in July 1952, Taft and Eisenhower were neck-and-neck in delegate votes, and the nomination was still up for grabs as neither had a majority. On the convention's first day, Eisenhower's managers complained that Taft's forces had unfairly denied Eisenhower supporters delegate slots in several Southern states, including Texas, where the state chairman, Orville Bullington, was committed to Taft, and also in Georgia. The Eisenhower partisans proposed to remove pro-Taft delegates in these states and replace them with pro-Eisenhower delegates; they called their proposal "Fair Play". Although Taft angrily denied having stolen any delegate votes, the convention voted to support Fair Play 658 to 548, and the Texans voted 33-5 for Eisenhower as a result. In addition, several uncommitted state delegations, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, agreed to support Eisenhower. There were rumors after the convention that the chairmen of these uncommitted states, such as Arthur Summerfield of Michigan, were secretly pressured by Dewey and the GOP's Eastern Establishment to support Eisenhower; however, these rumors were never proved. (Summerfield did become Ike's Postmaster General following the election.)

The addition of these formerly uncommitted state delegations, combined with Taft's loss of many Southern delegates due to the Fair Play proposal, decided the nomination in Eisenhower's favor. Despite his bitterness at his narrow defeat and his belief that he had been unfairly ambushed by the Eisenhower forces (including Governor Dewey), after the convention Taft issued a brief statement conveying his congratulations and support to Eisenhower. Thereafter, however, he brooded in silence at his summer home in Quebec. As the weeks passed, Eisenhower's aides worried that Taft and his supporters would sit on their hands during the campaign, and that as a result Eisenhower might lose the election. In September 1952 Taft finally agreed to meet with Eisenhower, at Morningside Heights in New York City. There, in order to gain Taft's support in the campaign, Eisenhower promised he would take no reprisals against Taft partisans, would cut federal spending, and would fight "creeping socialism in every domestic field." In fact, Eisenhower and Taft agreed on most domestic issues; their disagreements were primarily in foreign policy. Eisenhower firmly believed in NATO and was committed to the U.S. supporting anti-Communism in the Cold War.

Senate Majority Leader

Following Eisenhower's election and the GOP takeover of Congress, Taft served as Senate Majority Leader in 1953, and he strongly supported Eisenhower's domestic proposals. He worked hard to assist the inexperienced new officials of the administration. He even tried—with little success—to curb the excesses of red-baiting U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy. By April the President and Taft were friends and golfing companions, and Taft was praising his former adversary. Defeat in 1952, it seemed, had softened Taft. No longer burdened by presidential ambitions, he had become less partisan, less abrasive, and more conciliatory; during this time he was widely regarded as the most powerful man in Congress.

Death and legacy

In early 1953 Taft began to feel pain in his hips, and after a painful golf outing with President Eisenhower in April 1953 he entered Walter Reed Hospital for initial tests which led doctors to suspect a tumor or arthritis. Tests in May at Holmes Memorial Hospital near Cincinnati revealed that his body was full of cancer.[8] In late May 1953, Taft transferred his duties as Senate Majority Leader to Senator William Knowland of California,[citation needed] but he did not resign his Senate seat and told reporters that he expected to recover and return to work. However, his condition rapidly worsened, and Taft returned to New York Hospital for surgery on July 4 during a Senate recess. He died on July 31, suffering a final brain hemorrhage just hours after his wife Martha's final visit.[8] President Eisenhower and many prominent politicians from both parties attended his funeral. He is buried at Indian Hill Episcopal Church Cemetery in Cincinnati.

In 1957, a committee led by Senator John F. Kennedy selected Taft as one of five of their greatest Senate predecessors whose oval portraits would adorn the President's Room off the Senate floor. Kennedy would profile him in his book Profiles in Courage, and Taft continues to be regarded by historians as one of the most powerful U.S. Senators of the twentieth century. (Patterson, p. 617)

Memorial

The Robert A. Taft Memorial, featuring a 10-foot (3.0 m) statue by the sculptor Wheeler Williams and a bell tower, is located north of the Capitol on Constitution Avenue. The inscription on the tower reads:

"This Memorial to Robert A. Taft, presented by the people to the Congress of the United States, stands as a tribute to the honesty, indomitable courage, and high principles of free government symbolized by his life."

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Robert Alphonso Taft, U.S. Senator's Timeline

1889
September 8, 1889
Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., Ohio
1914
October 17, 1914
Age 25
Washington, District Of Columbia, USA
1915
August 7, 1915
Age 25
Harbor, Maine, USA
1917
February 26, 1917
Age 27
Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio, USA
1923
January 1, 1923
Age 33
Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio, USA
1925
April 2, 1925
Age 35
Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio, USA
1953
July 31, 1953
Age 63
New York, New York, USA
August 4, 1953
Age 63
Cincinnati, OH, USA
????
- present
Yale