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Wilbur J. Bender '27 Dies at 65; A Dean at Harvard for 13 Years


Wilbur J. Bender '27, who served as a dean at Harvard for 13 years, died suddenly last Monday at the age of 65 at his home in Cambridge.

Bender was dean of the College from 1947 to 1952, and dean of Admissions and Financial Aid from 1952 to 1960. He also served as an assistant dean in the early 1930's and as Harvard counselor for veterans from 1945 to 1947.

As dean, Bender instituted the Allston Burr Senior Tutors program, promoted the tutorial system in the Houses, and expanded the scholarship program for students in inner urban areas.

Richard T. Gill '48, Master of Leverett House, called Bender a "Very humane but very forceful leader." Dean Glimp said that Bender was instrumental in changing the admissions policies to increase the range of backgrounds and interests among Harvard students. F. Skiddy von Stade '38, dean of Freshmen, said of Bender, "It's hard to find anyone who knew him who wasn't a good friend of his."

Grade-School Teacher

Bender was born in Goshen, Indiana, of Mennonite parents. After working as a grade-school teacher and as a railroad worker, he attended Goshen College until a religious controversy closed it. Bender transferred to Harvard in 1925, graduated in 1927, and received his MA in 1930.

In the early 30's as assistant dean, Bender helped organize the Harvard National Scholarship program. He left Harvard in 1933 to teach at Phillips Andover Academy. He served in the Navy in World War II.

After retiring from Harvard in 1960, Bender served as a director of the Boston Permanent Charity Fund and was appointed a member of the Massachusetts Crime Commission in 1963.

Bender is survived by his wife, two daughters, and a son. Memorial services for him will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, April 14 at Memorial Church.

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