William Bentinck-Smith '37, an editor and administrator who served Harvard in a wide range of capacities over many years, died of cardiac arrest Tuesday in Ayer, Mass. at the age of 79.
Described as "loyal and devoted" by his former colleague Associate Dean of Freshmen W. C. Burriss Young '55, Bentinck-Smith filled the post of administrative officer for more than 40 years.
Bentinck-Smith served under presidents James Bryant Conant '04, Nathan M. Pusey '28 and Derek C. Bok. He earned the Harvard Medal in 1987 for exceptional contributions to the University.
Bentinck-Smith was editor of the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, now the Harvard Magazine, from 1946 to 1954 and continued to serve on the magazine's staff for many years after leaving the editorship. During his tenure as editor, the Bulletin garnered the Robert Sibley award for best alumni publication in the United States.
Bentinck-Smith is perhaps best remembered for his extensive writing on Harvard's history. His knowledge of the University's past, described as "encyclopedic" by Young, was complemented by his "wonderful sense of prose."
Among his many historical works about the University, Bentinck-Smith edited the Harvard Book anthology and More Lives of Harvard Scholars.
In his writing, Bentinck-Smith was never "excessively reverent" about this school's past, according to John T. Bethell, the current editor of Harvard Magazine.
Bentinck-Smith's familiarity with the nuances of the University's his-
Born in Boston, Bentinck-Smith graduated fromMilton Academy in 1933.
He earned his master's degree in journalismfrom Columbia University in 1938.
After working as a reporter for The BostonGlobe and then as managing editor for the AlumniBulletin in the early forties, Bentinck-Smithserved in the Navy during World War II, earningthe Bronze Star for courage.
Bentinck-Smith is survived by his wife, Phebe,and four children
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