(Maybe) The Oldest Alum on Campus

Courtesy of Harvard Archives

Born on Dec. 17, 1917 in a small factory town in upper New York, Frederick R. Witherby '40 is probably the oldest Harvard alum coming to this year's reunions.

While at the College, Witherby majored in History and Literature (oh yes it was still referred to it as "major" back then), and was involved with many student organizations such as the Hasty Pudding, tennis team, and football team.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Witherby took a four-year break from Harvard Law School and became one of the many young Americans who served in World War II.

As a naval officer, Witherby first served on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. He was then stationed in Kunming, China with the 14th Army Air Force in Photo Intelligence under the famous General Claire Lee Chenault.

After WWII, Witherby finished his studies at the Law School and became a lawyer with the Raytheon Company. He later became the chief counsel for New England Life Insurance Company, from which he retired at the age of 65.

Multimedia

However, reflecting on his life on the eve of his 70th reunion, Witherby said that the single professional achievement he is most proud of is his service in a variety of charity organizations such as the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Witherby now lives in Westwood, Mass. with his Radcliffe-educated wife, with whom he has raised two Harvard-graduated lawyers.

Photos courtesy of the Harvard Archives and Frederick R. Witherby.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: June 15, 2010

An earlier version of the May 26 FlyBy post "(Maybe) The Oldest Alum On Campus" incorrectly said that Frederick R. Witherby '40 became the chief counsel for New York Life Insurance Company. The correct name is New England Life Insurance Company.

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