Maj. Willard Dickerman Straight

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Maj. Willard Dickerman Straight

Birthdate: (38)
Birthplace: Oswego, Oswego County, New York, United States
Death: Died in Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Cause of death: pneumonia, complication of Spanish influenza
Place of Burial: Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry H. Straight and Emma Straight
Ex-husband of Dorothy Payne Straight (Whitney)
Father of Air Commodore Whitney Willard Straight, CBE, MC; Beatrice Whitney Straight and Michael Whitney Straight (KGB spy)

Managed by: Michael Lawrence Rhodes
Last Updated:

About Maj. Willard Dickerman Straight

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

Willard Dickerman Straight (January 31, 1880 – December 1, 1918) was an American investment banker, publisher, reporter and diplomat.


Biography


An orphan, Straight was born on January 31, 1880 in Oswego, New York. His father had been a faculty member at Oswego Normal School. He attended Bordentown Military Institute in New Jersey, and in 1897 he enrolled at Cornell University and graduated in 1901 with a degree in architecture. While a student at Cornell, he joined Delta Tau Delta, edited and contributed to several publications, and helped to organize Dragon Day, an annual architecture students' event. He was also elected to the Sphinx Head Society, membership in which was reserved for the most respected men of the senior class.


After graduation, Straight was appointed to the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs Service in Nanjing and worked as secretary to Sir Robert Hart, the Service's Inspector General. While in the Far East, he worked as a Reuters correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War, bringing him to Korea in 1904. In June, 1905, he became the personal secretary of Edwin V. Morgan, the American consul general in the Kingdom of Korea and American vice-consul in Seoul, Korea. After briefly working in Havana, Cuba, he returned to China in 1906 as American Consul-General at Mukden, Manchuria. While there, he and Ms. Mary Harriman were reportedly romantically involved, but their marriage was prevented by E. H. Harriman, her father. He then went on to work for J. P. Morgan & Co. In April, 1908, Straight was involved in a diplomatic incident involving a Japanese postman's attack on a coolie working for the American consulate whom the Japanese believed to have insulted him: Straight brandished a revolver and sent the Japanese attackers to their government for punishment.


Before his engagement to Dorothy Payne Whitney, the society pages reported that Straight was engaged to marry Ethel Roosevelt.


Straight married Dorothy Payne Whitney, a member of the prominent Whitney family, at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1911, after five years of courtship. The Straights moved first to Beijing, then, having adjudged China too unsafe after the Chinese Revolution, back to the United States in 1912. In 1914, Willard Straight, his wife, and Herbert Croly began publication of The New Republic, a weekly political magazine. In 1917, they helped found Asia Magazine, a prominent academic journal on China.


Straight left J.P. Morgan in 1915 and went to work as a vice-president for American International Corporation. In that same year, Straight became involved with the Preparedness Movement. When the United States entered World War I two years later, Straight joined the United States Army; his service in Europe won him the Distinguished Service Medal and promotion to the rank of major.


Willard Straight died in Paris (where he was arranging the arrival of the American mission to the Paris Peace Conference) of pneumonia, a complication of the Spanish influenza. His body was buried in the American cemetery at Suresnes, outside of Paris.


Legacy


In his life he made major donations to fund the construction of Schoellkopf Memorial Hall, and after his death his wife made a substantial donation to Cornell to build the school's first student union building, which was named in his honor.


Straight's papers are at Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY. The papers are available in digital form from Cornell University: https://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/22047


Children


Children with Dorothy Payne Whitney:

Whitney Willard Straight (1912–1979)
Beatrice Whitney Straight (1914–2001)
Michael Whitney Straight (1916–2004)[8]

Willard Dickerman Straight was an American investment banker, publisher, reporter, Army Reserve officer, diplomat and by marriage, a member of the Whitney family.

Early life Straight was born on January 31, 1880 in Oswego, New York, the son of Henry H. Straight (1846-1886) and his wife, née Emma Dickerman (1850–1890), who was born at Beardstown, Illinois and was the daughter of Col. Willard Arms Dickerman (d. 1864), of the 103rd Illinois Infantry, and Margaret Elizabeth Deaver. The Dickermans were descended from Thomas Dickerman, who likely came to America from Bristol with the Reverend Richard Mather in 1636 and settled in Dorchester. Emma was described as an artist who loved poetry, pictures, and beauty in all its forms, but above all else, she loved people. His parents were faculty members at Oswego Normal School. Straight was orphaned at age ten, by the death of his father in 1886 and his mother in 1890. After his mother's death, Willard and his sister were taken in by Dr. Elvire Ranier, one of the earliest woman physicians in the country, and her friend (and fellow spinster who she lived with), Laura R. Newkirk of Oswego, women who were teachers and close friends of his parents, who cared for and educated the children.

He attended Bordentown Military Institute in New Jersey, and in 1897 he enrolled at Cornell University and graduated in 1901 with a degree in architecture. While a student at Cornell, he joined Delta Tau Delta, edited and contributed to several publications, and helped to organize Dragon Day, an annual architecture students' event. He was also elected to the Sphinx Head Society, membership in which was reserved for the most respected men of the senior class.

Career After graduation from Cornell, Straight was appointed to the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs Service in Nanjing and worked as secretary to Sir Robert Hart, the Service's Inspector General. While in the Far East, he worked as a Reuters correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War, bringing him to Korea in 1904. In June 1905, he became the personal secretary of Edwin V. Morgan, the American consul general in the Kingdom of Korea and American vice-consul in Seoul, Korea.

In 1906, after briefly working in Havana, Cuba, he returned to China as American Consul-General at Mukden, Manchuria. While there, he and Ms. Mary Harriman were reportedly romantically involved, but their marriage was prevented by E. H. Harriman, her father. He then went on to work for J. P. Morgan & Co. In April, 1908, Straight was involved in a diplomatic incident involving a Japanese postman's attack on a coolie working for the American consulate whom the Japanese believed to have insulted him: Straight brandished a revolver and sent the Japanese attackers to their government for punishment.

In 1914, Willard Straight, his wife, and Herbert Croly began publication of The New Republic, a weekly political magazine. In 1917, they helped found Asia Magazine, a prominent academic journal on China.

In 1915, Straight left J.P. Morgan and went to work as a vice-president for American International Corporation. In that same year, Straight became involved with the Preparedness Movement and attended the July 1915 Citizens' Military Training Camp in Plattsburgh, New York. When the United States entered World War I two years later, Straight joined the United States Army; and served stateside and later France with the Adjutant General's Corps and First Army. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and served as a major.

Personal life Willard D. Straight House in New York Straight was reportedly engaged to be married to Ethel Roosevelt, daughter of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, according to the society pages of the times. During his life, he served as a trustee of Cornell and a member of the Century Association and Knickerbocker Club.

In 1911, after five years of courtship, Straight became married Dorothy Payne Whitney (1887–1968), a member of the prominent Whitney family, in Geneva, Switzerland. Her father was William Collins Whitney, the United States Secretary of the Navy during the first Cleveland administration, and her mother was Flora Payne, the daughter of Senator Henry B. Payne of Ohio and sister of Col. Oliver Hazard Payne. The Straights moved first to Beijing, then, having adjudged China too unsafe after the Chinese Revolution, back to the United States in 1912. Together, Willard and Dorothy had:

Whitney Willard Straight (1912–1979) Beatrice Whitney Straight (1914–2001) Michael Whitney Straight (1916–2004) On December 1, 1918, Straight died of pneumonia, a complication of the Spanish influenza, in Paris, where he was arranging the arrival of the American mission to the Paris Peace Conference. His body was buried in the American cemetery at Suresnes, outside of Paris.

Legacy Willard Straight Hall at Cornell University Following the death of Straight's good friend, Henry Schoellkopf in 1912, Straight donated $100,000 (equivalent to $2,482,000 in 2016) to construct the Schoellkopf Memorial Hall in his honor. After his death, his wife made a substantial donation to Cornell to build the school's first student union building, Willard Straight Hall, which was named in his honor.

In 1920, the Willard Straight Post of the American Legion was formed in New York, having as members Cyrus Baldridge, Walter Lippmann, John Dos Passos and other veterans of distinction who had come to doubt the efficacy of international violence as a means to idealistic ends, and sought to counter the extreme nationalism that came to characterize the Legion. The Post was active in promoting those ends through the 1930s.

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Maj. Willard Dickerman Straight's Timeline

1880
January 31, 1880
Oswego, Oswego County, New York, United States
1912
November 6, 1912
Age 32
New York, New York, United States
1914
August 2, 1914
Age 34
Old Westbury, Nassau County, New York, United States
1916
September 1, 1916
Age 36
New York, New York, United States
1918
December 1, 1918
Age 38
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
????
Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France