An artistically talented, accomplished, and admired member of our class; a great writer and storyteller; and the son, brother, and father of Princetonians, John died June 3, 2021, at his home in Brentwood, Calif., after a 10-month battle with brain cancer. 

The son of William C. Young ’33, he entered Princeton with the Class of 1968, leaving during his sophomore year but eventually returning to Princeton with ’69. John wrote a novel for his thesis in the religion department, and looking back said this experience taught him the beginnings of how to write.

John’s career in Hollywood led to seven Emmy nominations, two Writers Guild Awards, a Golden Globe, a Peabody Award, and Humanitas’ Kieser Award for lifetime achievement. He was a sought-after writer, director, and producer of television series including China Beach, which he co-created, and The West Wing, as well as several feature films. A highly regarded author of the memoirs Pieces of Glass: An Artoire and Remains: Non Viewable, John’s final book, Pieces of Tinsel, will be published posthumously in 2022.

A great mentor, John frequently taught and lectured, including at Princeton in 2001 and again in 2017. He established the John Sacret Young ’69 Fund for Visiting Filmmakers, supporting film series at the Lewis Center and campus visits by guest artists.

John dearly loved his family. He is survived by his wife, Claudia Sloan; children Jacy, Jake ’02, Julia, and Riley; brother Mason ’67; and three grandchildren. To each of them, the Class of 1969 offers its most sincere sympathy.

Undergraduate Class of 1969