Kingman Brewster Jr., a distinguished former Yale University president and ambassador to Great Britain, died Tuesday of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 69.
The former Harvard Law School professor served as president of Yale from 1963 until 1977, where he played a vocal role in encouraging student activism and opposing the Vietnam War.
Brewster also gained fame as the inspiration for "President King," the activist college president in Yale student Gary Trudeau's comic strip "Doonesbury."
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter named Brewster ambassador to Great Britain, a post he held until 1981. Since 1985, he had been a master of University College in Oxford, England, where he died.
James D. Vorenberg '49, dean of Harvard Law School, recalled Brewster as an asset to his profession. "He gave the university president a good name when it needed it. He was one of the most affirmative, upbeat people I've known...enormously well-rounded and well-versed," he said.
"Kingman Brewster was the preeminent university president of his day--a man who stood for equity as well as excellence, change as well as continuity, and understanding as well as courage," said Benno D. Schmidt Jr., president of Yale.
Born in 1919 in Longmeadow, Mass., Brewster graduated from Yale in 1941, having served as chair of the Yale Daily News. Brewster flew for the Navy from 1942-45. After the war, he enrolled in Harvard Law School and graduated magna cum laude in 1948.
After two years working in Paris for the Marshall Plan, Brewster became a professor of law at Harvard Law School in 1950, a job he held until 1960, when he took a similar post at Yale.
Brewster's tenure as president was marked by increased admissions of minorities to Yale, and in 1969, the first admission of women undergraduates.
But it was as an activist that Brewster was most known. He opened Yale facilities to 12,000 student protesters from other colleges in 1970. He also successfully fought attempts to fire Vietnam War protester and draft evaders' champion William Sloane Coffin Jr., the Yale chaplain.
Brewster leaves a wife of 46 years, Mary Louise, and five children.