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Walter Lord ’39

Published in Dec. 18, 2002, issue

Walter died May 19, 2002, at his NYC apartment. Walter may not have invented the genre of narrative historian, but his seminal account of the sinking of the Titanic, A Night To Remember, published in 1955 and never since out of print, gave rise to a whole new school of popular writing of nonfiction that persists to this day.

On graduation from Gilman School, he won the Princeton-Gilman Alumni Cup for the best sixth-form speech of the year, interestingly a speech on the sinking of the Titanic, the topic that later launched his authorial career. From Princeton he went on to Yale Law School, then into war service with the OSS. Deciding against the practice of law, he joined J. Walter Thompson as advertising writer. On the side he did the research and writing that produced A Night to Remember, whose success enabled him to write books full time. In 1994 the Society of American Historians awarded Walter the Francis Parkman Prize in recognition of his lifetime dedication to American history. Walter never married and left no immediate survivors except his many classmates, proud that he was one of us.

The Class of 1939

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