Rosalind Everdell Havemeyer, the first woman to chair Union Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees, died peacefully at home on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. She was 99.
“Rossie” as she was affectionately known by family, friends and fellow Board members, memorably detailed her long association with Union in her 1988 acceptance speech for the Union Medal. Her first exposure to Union, she said, was in the 1930s when she took a Bible class at Barnard taught by Professor Mary Ely Lyman of Union. In 1956 she became a member of the Women’s Committee at Union; she was elected to the Board in 1965, and served as Board Chair from October 1970 until January 1976. After stepping down as Chair, she continued as a member of the Board until 1982, and thereafter maintained a lively interest in Union.
“Over the years, as I learned more about this place and its wonderful people,” she said, “I came to believe in the enormous potential of Union Theological Seminary for doing good in this world. I believe that now more than ever. And that really is the basis for my long love affair with Union.”
She was an extremely generous benefactor. President Donald W. Shriver, Jr., in awarding the Union Medal to Havemeyer, described her as “a person who in the recent history of Union has been instrumental in our very survival as a school.” He went on to praise her “embodiment of the prophetic role of women in theological education,” and placed her “in the company of prophets stretching from Ruth of Moab to Lydia of Thyatira to Julian of Norwich to Mary Lyman of Union.”
The Havemeyer family continues to support Union. Rossie’s son, William E. Havemeyer, was a dedicated and active member of Union’s Board for over two decades, from 1989 to 2012. Her brother-in-law, Harry W. Havemeyer, was also on the Board, from 1978 to 1983.
Rossie Havemeyer’s portrait hangs in the Refectory.
She is survived by her children, Rosalind Roosevelt, William and Christian Havemeyer, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her husband, Horace Havemeyer, Jr. and her son, Horace Havemeyer III, predeceased her.
A memorial service will be held at a later date; details will also be posted on the website.
The interment will be private. A Memorial Service is being planned to take place in James Chapel at Union in the late Spring, and details will be posted on the website when they become available. Click here for the more detailed obituary published by the family in the New York Times.