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Ruth Ellen duPont Lord, 92

posted: Aug 7, 2014 3:24 pm

Ruth Ellen duPont Lord of New Haven and East Lyme CT died August 4 in New Haven.

Born in 1922 to Henry Francis and Ruth Wales duPont, Ruth grew up in New York City as well as Winterthur Delaware and Boca Grande Florida. She attended Foxcroft School, Vassar College and received a Masters degree in Education from Yale.

(Click here to read personal tributes to Lord in a story published Thursday in the Wilmington News-Journal of Delaware.)

She and her first husband George de Forest Lord lived a Yale-centered life in New Haven and raised three children, Pauline, George and Henry. Their baby daughter Edith died in 1954. In 1964 Ruth and three friends founded the Long Wharf Theatre, to which she remained passionately committed. She and George Lord divorced in 1977.

“We think it is not an overstatement to say that without Ruth, Long Wharf would not exist,” Long Wharf Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein and Managing Director Joshua Borenstein stated in a press release issued Thursday. “Lord’s involvement with Long Wharf Theatre began with a chance encounter at a supermarket in 1964. Her friend William Sloane Coffin, then the chaplain of Yale and on the cusp of becoming a towering figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement, had taken an interest in the work of Harlan Kleiman and Jon Jory, a pair of Yale graduates who were starting a theatre in the Food Terminal at Long Wharf. Ruth became deeply involved, working with fellow founders including Newt Schenck and Betty Kubler to get Long Wharf Theatre up and running. She served as Long Wharf Theatre’s first Board President, a role she held until 1990.”

In 1970 Ruth took a job at Yale New Haven Hospital, co-leading support groups for parents of severely ill children and writing research papers on disparate topics, including a teenage girl’s right to refuse kidney dialysis and the impact on the patient of the death of the psychoanalyst.  She later became Research Associate at Yale’s Child Study Center, working on custody issues.  In 1994, she collaborated with Albert J. Solnit and Barbara Nordhaus in publishing When Home is No Haven.

Ruth spent 16 joyful years with her second husband John Grier Holmes, a theatre man and one-time head of the Yale Whiffenpoofs.  At his urging, she wrote Henry Francis duPont and Winterthur – A Daughter’s Portrait, now in its 4th printing.  John Holmes died in 1997.

In her mid-80s, Ruth by chance re-met her childhood friend and neighbor Harold G Haskell of Chadds Ford, and a marvelous romance blossomed.  They were “Partners for Life” until her death.

Ruth wrung the most out of life, with an upbeat spirit, hilarious, irreverent sense of humor, deep friendships, and generosity to causes that included social welfare, education, the theatre, and the environment.  Her death creates a terrible void for family, colleagues and friends including Hal Haskell, Pauline Lord & David Harlow of East Lyme, George de F. and Gail Lord of Athens GA, Henry Lord of New Haven, 5 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held August 16 at 3 pm at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme CT.  A second service will occur September 6 at 11 am at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Greenville DE.  Burial will be in the duPont Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ruth’s memory to the Long Wharf Theatre or to the Albert J. Solnit Program at the Yale Child Study Center.

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