Purpose: To recognize and promote from the Brooks family those individuals whose life and contributions to society exemplify the nobility of character and usefulness to humanity embodied in the spirit of the school.
Eligibility: A member of the Brooks community, alumnus, alumna, teacher, or benefactor who through the devotion of their resources has made significant accomplishments in the field of their endeavor.
Selection Process: Recommendations for nominations are solicited from all members of the Brooks community. A standard form is used to ensure uniformity. The slate of nominees is presented to the Head of School, for him or her to make a decision.
Presentation: To be awarded during Alumni Weekend or another suitable occasion by the Head of School. The award will be made from time to time, not necessarily annually. The recipient will receive a Brooks School momento enameled with the school's shield and motto.
Citation: To be composed by the sponsor of the recipient of the award in conjunction with the alumni office and the Head of School.
Curriculum Vitae of Candidates: To be collected and stored in the alumni office.
Nomination Form: Please complete the form on the right-hand side of this page. For more information, please contact the alumni office.
Previous Distinguished Brooksian Recipients
- 2022 | Steven R. Gorham ’85, P’17, P’21, Financier
- 2022 | Richard V. Spencer ’72, Financier and Public Servant
- 2021 | No Award Given
- 2020 | No Award Given
- 2019 | Esmond Bradley Martin Jr. '59, Conservationist
- 2018 | Eric Genden '83, Doctor
- 2017 | William N. Booth '67, Businessman
- 2016 | Theodore Sedgwick '66, Public Servant
- 2015 | Frederick Prince ’65, Philanthropist
- 2014 | Trevor Potter ’74, Campaign and Election Law Expert
- 2013 | Peter Bedloe de Menocal Ph.D. ’78, Paleoclimatologist and Professor
- 2012 | Francis Stanton Blake ’67, Businessman
- 2012 | Joseph Forest Sherer, Jr. ’37, Doctor
- 2011 | Francis Goelet ’44, Protectionist and Philanthropist
- 2010 | Louis Beal '45, Interior Designer
- 2009 | Henry Lee '44, Educator and Humanitarian
- 2008 | Lawrence W. and Grace Z. Becker '96, '08 Hon., Educators
- 2007 | Charles Jencks ’57, Architect and Artist
- 2006 | John McK Camp II Ph.D. ’64, Archaeologist
- 2005 | Tim Prentice ’49, Kinetic Sculptor
- 2004 | Samuel Parkman Peabody ’44, Educator and Humanitarian
- 2003 | Sir Barry M. Bowen ’63, Environmentalist and Statesman
- 2003 | Edward F. MacNichol '36 | Biologist and Educator
- 2002 | Steve Forbes ’66, Publisher
- 2001 | Henry M. Buhl ’48, Humanitarian
- 2000 | William R. Ferris '60 | Educator
- 1998 | Ambassador Wells Stabler ’37, Foreign Service
- 1997 | Huntington Sheldon ’47, Medicine
- 1996 | Thomas C. Platt ’43, U.S. District Court Chief Justice
- 1995 | William W. Kellog Ph.D. ’35, Geophysicist and Meteorologist
- 1994 | Charles Henry Wheelright Foster ’45, Environmentalist and Author
- 1993 | Henry Lyman ’33, Conservationist and Publisher
- 1993 | Charles P. Lyman Ph.D. '32 | Educator
- 1991 | Frank David Ashburn, Educator
2022 | Steven R. Gorham ’85, P’17, P’21, Financier
Steven Gorham joined Brooks’ board of trustees in 2008 and assumed the presidency in the summer of 2016, just a few months after the school’s successful, $60 million capital campaign publicly was announced. As he turned board leadership over to John Barker ’87, P’21, P’23 in 2022, Gorham remained passionate about raising capital for financial aid.
“I was sixth of seven kids and the first one to go to private school. I was fortunate to get in and to get financial aid,” said Gorham, who had also served on Brooks’ alumni board, reunion committees and fundraising committees. “For me, Brooks had been very transformative for my trajectory. My path would have been far different if I had not been able to attend. I’ve always felt blessed and I’ve always wanted to stay very connected to the school after graduation.”
The North Andover native was a day student who played baseball, basketball and football, in addition to participating in the Young Republicans, the Shield and the Eagle. He subsequently received a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Boston College. Gorham’s career-long tenure at Massachusetts Financial Services began in 1989 as a teleservices representative. He now is an equity portfolio manager at MFS, managing the value and global balanced portfolios for MFS’ mutual funds, variable annuities and institutional investment products. He’s responsible for final buy and sell decisions, portfolio construction, and risk and cash management. He also participates in the research process and strategy discussions.
2022 | Richard V. Spencer ’72, Financier and Public Servant
Upon receiving a bachelor’s degree from Rollins College in 1976, the Honorable Richard V. Spencer joined the United States Marine Corps and served as an H-46 (Phrog) pilot until 1981. After leaving active duty, Spencer worked on Wall Street for 16 years with responsibilities centered on investment banking services. He was president of Crossroads Investment Management, LLC, before serving Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., as vice chairman and chief financial officer and Fall Creek Management, LLC, as managing director.
Notably, Spencer was sworn in as the 76th secretary of the Navy on August 3, 2017, serving in that office until November 24, 2019. When pressured by the White House administration to overturn the results of a specific court-martial proceeding, Spencer refused and subsequently resigned. “Richard became very prominent in the news when he took a principled stand against the White House,” classmates wrote when nominating Spencer for this award. “In a resignation letter to Donald Trump, Richard stressed his belief in the importance of ‘good order and discipline,’ which he no doubt learned at Brooks.”
In addition to volunteering his time to Brooks through a variety of roles, Spencer has served on multiple corporate boards. His charitable activities include board service on the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, Veterans Campaign/Center for Second Service and Honoring Our Vets. He also served on the Defense Business Board and the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel.
2021 | No Award Given
2020 | No Award Given
2019 | Esmond Bradley Martin Jr. '59, Conservationist
Esmond Bradley Martin (1941-2018) was a well-known, widely-respected researcher and conservationist who actively fought to protect numerous animal species, most notably elephants and rhinos. He authored a substantial number of groundbreaking investigative reports on rhino and ivory smuggling and trade from African nations into countries including China, Vietnam, Laos, and even the United States. These reports were instrumental in curbing illegal wildlife trafficking and made him a hero in the conservation world.
Tony Milbank '59 (seen in above photo on right with Head of School John Packard) was able to be on campus during his 60th reunion to accept the Distinguished Brooksian award on behalf of Martin, his former classmate and roommate.
2018 | Eric Genden '83, Doctor
Dr. Eric Genden ’83 is the 2018 Distinguished Brooksian for his extraordinary and historic contributions to the field of medical practice, medical teaching and research.
With his practice rooted in dedication to and empathy for others, Genden is the personification of many of our core values and our mission at Brooks, most notably empathy, integrity, passion, moral awareness and social responsibility.
As a student, he was a member of crew, played hockey, and was quarterback for a football team, which went 17 games without a loss. In 1981-82, the team earned an undefeated season and a league championship.
After college he pursued a career in medicine, which includes a long list of notable academic appointments. In 1998, he joined Mount Sinai Medical Center and in 2004, assumed operations and billing of the department. He became the Chairman of the department of otolaryngology - head and neck surgery a year later. Within 12 years, he has grown the group — which expanded to include New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, Beth Israel Hospital, and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center, in addition to the department’s existing programs at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Elmhurst Medical Center, and Veterans Hospital in the Bronx — from 13 physicians and surgeons to 87 surgeons and 341 faculty, making it the largest in the country.
Throughout his career, he has sought to help others. On any given day, he might be performing surgery, teaching other doctors, or removing cancers.
Currently, Genden is the Isadore Freisner Endowed Professor and Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He has authored and edited six textbooks on the subjects of head and neck cancer, microvascular reconstruction, and robotic head and neck surgery, and has been lauded with several awards in his field, including the honor of being the first surgeon to perform a jaw transplant in the United States.
2017 | William N. Booth '67, Businessman
William N. Booth ’67 is the 2017 Distinguished Brooksian for his extraordinary service and devotion to Brooks School.
From the time he studied at Brooks through decades after his graduation, Booth has been actively involved in life on campus. As a student he played soccer and squash, captaining the latter during his sixth form year. He was President of the Phillips Brooks Society and the Young Republicans. He served as Treasurer of the Ski Club, sang in the Choir, served as a House Prefect, Fifth Form Prefect, Chapel Prefect, and was a member of the Madrigal Society and Gregorian Society.
After Brooks, Booth went on to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., then moved quickly into the world of finance and investing by enrolling in State Street Bank and Trust Company’s trust management training program in 1971. After his time at State Street, he worked for David L. Babson and the College Retirement Equities Fund for shorter periods of time before landing at Wellington Management Company in the early 1980s as an analyst and investor. At Wellington, Booth’s career took off and his work both domestically and internationally earned him a position as senior vice president and partner of the company. He finished more than 30 years of work at Wellington in Hong Kong when he was tasked with opening the firm’s office there. He continues to put his expertise to work by serving on a number of boards, and is an integral member of the school’s Investment Committee.
For the past 12 years Booth has served on Brooks School’s Board of Trustees, and was President of the Board from 2006 to 2016. In this role, he led and stewarded the school with great vision and care. His first few years at the helm saw him play an integral role in selecting John Packard as Head of School, and his support led the way to creating Brooks’ science center in 2008. His leadership and steady hand also allowed us to build the first new dormitory at Brooks in 30 years: Chace House. The Campaign for Brooks too, has been driven in large part by Booth’s belief that Brooks deserves the highest levels of support, which he helped provide with a $5 million gift.
Booth’s ten consecutive years of service as President of the Board of Trustees have been equaled by just two others, and exceeded only by Endicott Peabody who served as the school’s first board president from 1927 to 1944. His financial support of the school through the years has had very few equals, and perhaps more importantly, has raised the bar and inspired others to make their own extraordinary gifts to Brooks. Booth has led from the front in this regard and the school has had no more important benefactor in its 90 years of life.
2016 | Theodore Sedgwick '66, Public Servant
Back in 1966 when Frank Ashburn was writing Tod Sedgwick’s college recommendation, he noted the sixth-former’s “extraordinary range of interests” and described him as a “stimulating individualist, caring little for the many shrines his contemporaries tend so devotedly.” Now, 50 years later, it turns out FDA was spot on.
Sedgwick enjoyed a successful career path through journalism, publishing, entrepreneurship and non-profit leadership. His genuine interest in global affairs and other cultures and languages, and even his piano acumen, all contributed to his productive five-year post as the U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia. Now a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Sedgwick draws upon his world perspective to address today’s political challenges, develop real-world strategic policy solutions and educate the next generation of leaders.
Sedgwick majored in Ottoman history at Harvard. That knowledge, coupled with his love of travel to foreign lands, helped Sedgwick to hone his writing skills. While working for a small publication, Sedgwick seized an opportunity to purchase the company and he was quickly on his way toward an influential career in the publishing industry. He oversaw dozens of insider newsletters specializing in the energy, defense and environment markets. During his appointment as Ambassador, Sedgwick promoted active citizenship to stem a tide of political corruption. He spearheaded efforts toward transparent governance for Slovakia and targeted the judicial system for improvements. Sedgwick retains an active tenure with various non-profit groups including the Civil War Preservation Trust and the Shakespeare Theater Company. His contributions to our country and our world are countless.
2015 | Frederick Prince ’65, Philanthropist
Frederick Henry Prince ’65 is the 2015 Distinguished Brooksian for his lifetime of philanthropy, which exemplifies the nobility of character and usefulness to humanity embodied in the spirit of the school.
2014 | Trevor Potter ’74, Campaign and Election Law Expert
Trevor Potter was hand-picked by founding headmaster Frank Ashburn to serve a two-year school prefect term during the transition to new headmaster Peter Aitken. Mr. Ashburn had watched Trevor evolve from a boy with a habit of fighting every question asked of him to a young adult with an impressive maturity. Upon graduating from Brooks, he went on to receive degrees from both Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law. A distinguished career of practicing and teaching law, political appointments and campaign work has landed Trevor in his current position as a member of Caplin & Drysdale's Washington, D.C., office, where he leads the firm's political law practice.
2013 | Peter Bedloe de Menocal Ph.D. ’78, Paleoclimatologist and Professor
2012 | Francis Stanton Blake ’67, Businessman
2012 | Joseph Forest Sherer, Jr. ’37, Doctor
2011 | Francis Goelet ’44, Protectionist and Philanthropist
Goelet was the scion of a family that came to America in 1678 and has long been active in New York City’s cultural life.
In his own words, Goelet was a man particularly “apt at relaxation,” although former headmaster Frank D. Ashburn seemed to believe otherwise. In 1945, upon recommending Goelet to Harvard College, Ashburn wrote that Goelet “has consistently been the best student in his class. I rate him one of the ablest students that we have yet had here.”
Goelet subsequently graduated from Harvard in 1947. A brief tour in the Army and a short stint in law school rounded out his education. He later became the chairman of Goelet Corporations, a private company that oversaw his family’s interests and investments in the mining, oil and gas business.
But his heart always returned to music philanthropy. In fact, he commissioned more symphonic and operatic works than any other American citizen during his lifetime. He subsidized or contributed toward the staging of seventeen productions at the Metropolitan Opera, including three world premieres.
His most significant contribution was the commissioning of new music, starting in 1967 with a series of works to celebrate the New York Philharmonic’s 125th anniversary. A decade later, Goelet commissioned a series of concertos for the Philharmonic’s first-desk players, and to celebrate the Philharmonic’s 150th anniversary in 1992, he paid for another thirty-six works.
When the Rockefeller Foundation created New World Records in 1975 to celebrate American music, Goelet was invited on the board and became its vice chairman. At the conclusion of the bicentennial, he underwrote New World Records on his own. In 2005, New World Records released The Vision of Francis Goelet – a collection of works by Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands, as a tribute to Goelet and his extraordinary legacy of his commissions.
Goelet also established a music fund here at Brooks back in the 1950s. In a note to Ashburn with a check to purchase phonograph records for the school, he wrote: “I always appreciated the opportunity to hear good music at Brooks and am sure that learning to know it at school age is…the best and easiest.”
Besides his support of classical music, Goelet was a protectionist. He founded the International Atlantic Salmon Foundation, a conservation organization, in 1969. The foundation later forged ties with similar groups in Britain, Iceland and other European countries.
Goelet lost his battle with cancer 13 years ago at the age of 72.
2010 | Louis Beal '45, Interior Designer
Louis Morris Starr Beal '45 found his way to Brooks School on the heels of his elder brother. Their father, William DeFord Beal, was a St. Mark’s man, but strayed over to Brooks when it came time for his sons’ secondary education. Louis loved being at Brooks. He was very fond of the first Mrs. Ashburn and, having come from Boston, appreciated her urban loftiness. He played soccer and joined the Chapel Fellowship and the Art Association. Louis credits Director of Art Alicia Waterston with recognizing and encouraging his love of design. He received College Certification from Brooks in 1944, as a number of his courageous brothers did during those years in order to join the service of choice prior to being drafted. He promptly enlisted in the Marine Corps and remained for two years – often corresponding with FDA – until receiving an honorary discharge for illness.
Upon his return, Louis attended Harvard University for two years, studying architecture, and then with the guidance of his father and FDA, transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design. He discovered that he was truly interested in the way people live and work in spaces, not the architecture itself. After graduating with honors in 1952, Louis studied architecture with Walter Gropius at Harvard University. From Boston, he called on his friends, the Saltonstalls, to introduce him to furniture designer Frances Knoll. He moved to New York and joined the Knoll Planning Unit, the first contemporary commercial interior design service available in the United States.
In 1985, he left ISD to become an independent consultant, limiting his work to one or two select projects at a time. His greatest joy stemmed from working on interiors for fine architects. In 1990, Louis was elected to the Interior Design Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to the industry. Two years later, he was appointed to the International Interior Design Association’s College of Fellows. He is also a Rhode Island School of Design Life Trustee and has been published numerous times.
Always dedicated to the interior design profession and intent on offering his services in payment for some of the rewards he has reaped, Louis is active in the American Society of Interior Designers, having served as director for both the national organization and New York Metropolitan chapter. He is a devoted Vestryman of St. Thomas Church, a member of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. He recently served as their Chairman of the Building Preservation Committee and enjoyed being the client, for a change, in the building of the Choir School. Much of the thoughtful refurbishment of this grand church that towers over 5th Avenue was overseen by Louis.
2009 | Henry Lee '44, Educator and Humanitarian
When Henry Lee '44 got tired of looking at a dilapidated public garden, he and some neighbors thought they might take it upon themselves to do something about it: Ask the city of Boston to fix a fence, or plant some fresh flowers where dead blooms sat.
This small idea became a big project, enjoyed by more than Lee and his neighbors. Thanks to Lee’s efforts, the Boston Public Garden, once a rundown parcel at risk of being forever in the shadows of skyscrapers, is now a treasure for millions in the heart of the city.
Lee was instrumental in saving this jewel in landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace in Boston. And today, the Friends of the Public Garden has grown to some 2,500 members, serving as a shining example of a successful partnership between public and private interests.
While at Brooks, Lee lettered in several sports, while also serving as editor of both The Shield and The Bishop. After earning a history degree at Harvard, Lee earned a master’s degree in history at Stanford.
Although he was unable to fulfill hopes of fighting in World War II due to illness after Brooks, he did go on to work for the Foreign Service. Lee eventually returned to the classroom, teaching at the Dexter School for the next 16 years beofre taking the helm of the Carroll School for two years.
Two of his four children with wife, Joan Metcalf, attended Brooks: Henry III ’64 and Tom ’76.
2008 | Lawrence W. and Grace Z. Becker '96, '08 Hon., Educators
Lawrence W. and Grace Z. Becker arrived at Brooks in 1986, and stayed on campus until 2008.
Larry Becker was schooled in a small farming community in upstate New York. Yet he went on to attend Amherst College in the late-1950s. His collegiate success led to a master's degree at Harvard University a year later.
He arrived on the campus of Hotchkiss in the fall of 1964. The pace at which Mr. Becker was appointed to and succeeded in various high level administrative positions is nothing short of breath taking: director of college placement, dean of the senior class, dean of admissions and college placement, dean of the faculty and assistant headmaster.
During this time, Larry Becker managed to co-author a series of three math text books and developed a reputation outside of Hotchkiss, which led to his appointment as Brooks' third headmaster in 1986. Grace Becker was involved in a number of facets of the school, many of which were unscripted and personal.
"The vision and leadership that would have and did account for it have been evident throughout his more than two decades of inspired guidance here at Brooks. Mr. Becker has overseen the school’s growth both in size and prestige," longtime math teacher Dusty Richard said. "What has been so remarkable about his leadership has been his ability to steer this institution in new and exciting directions and yet ensure that Brooks has retained all of those important and treasured qualities that have distinguished it from its sister schools for generations."
2007 | Charles Jencks ’57, Architect and Artist
Charles Jencks ’57 is nothing short of an icon. He is an architect and an artist, designer of a dizzying array of structures, intricate landscapes, sculptures and gardens. His distinctive designs incorporate complex characteristics such as "folds, fractals and solitons," and his renown Garden of Cosmic Speculation, on the Scottish border, is a singular testament to his artistic vision.
But beyond his own artistic endeavors, Jencks is known worldwide as the conscience of architecture. He is a preeminent critical voice in the field, author of dozens of books, hundreds of journal and magazine articles and innumerable lectures at universities and museums throughout the world.
Jencks approaches architecture from many angles; his current passions center on the world around him, and for years he has advocated for a more biological and organic world view by his peers. He was "green" long before it was chic, and one need only view his extraordinary living designs to understand his deep connection to the Earth.
Jencks arrived at Brooks in 1952 as a promising second former from Westport, Conn. By the time he graduated in 1957, everyone, including Headmaster Frank D. Ashburn, could see his potential. In typical, succinct Ashburn fashion, he wrote in Jencks' college recommendation, "A good bet. Jencks is a highly intelligent boy, sensitive to good things and with a wider than ordinary cultural background. He is coming along nicely."
Jencks earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1961 from Harvard College, and then a second B.A. and a master's in architecture from the Graduate School of Design by 1965. Still intellectually curious, he moved to London on a Fulbright Scholarship and earned his Ph.D. in Architectural History from London University in 1970.
Not long after that he completed his most enduring written work, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, first published in 1977 and now enjoying its seventh edition, having been translated into 10 languages. It is read by virtually every student of architecture in the world.
Jencks made his mark by turning his laser-sharp focus on his peers. Using his fluency in architectural history as a context, he has pondered publicly the meaning and value of today's architecture. He has challenged the elite post-modernists to consider honestly their own philosophies and inspirations: Is architecture art? To what extent should it impose itself on our lifestyles? And what is the central motivation of today's architect?
Jencks has brought the deeper meaning of architecture into the public forum. He has worked tirelessly to popularize post-modernism. In an era where "chaos theory" and increasingly complex ideas are routinely referenced in architecture, Jencks fights for clarity, and through his passion has opened the doors to understanding and excitement for many a layperson.
Jencks has also made his mark through his wonderful work supporting cancer patients, in memory of his late wife, Chinese-landscape scholar Maggie Keswick. Through the organization they conceived of while Maggie struggled with, and ultimately succumbed to, her own cancer diagnosis, they have built numerous wonderful Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, with plans to build many more around the UK. As with all things, Jencks continually demonstrates devotion and passion in this project for the benefit of others.
2006 | John McK Camp II Ph.D. ’64, Archaeologist
- John McK Camp II '64 has garnered a lifetime of achievements in the academic disciplines of classics and archaeology. As professor of classics at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, Camp has become a leading international authority on the teaching and research of the history of Ancient Greece.
In 1966, Camp served as an excavator at the Athenian Agora in Greece. He later earned promotions to assistant director and, in 1994, director of this famed archaeological site. The Agora (or "marketplace”) was the center of economic, social and intellectual life in ancient Athens. It was also at this site that Athenians first realized the concept of democracy that has served, in part, as inspiration for the American form of government. Under Camp's able leadership, archaeologists and their teams have uncovered the senate building, vice president's office, archives, mint and law courts at the Agora.
During summers, Camp leads Randolph Macon College students to the Agora excavation where they learn first-hand about the techniques of archaeological work and the classical world. He has also undertaken Brooks students as summer interns in recent years.
2005 | Tim Prentice ’49, Kinetic Sculptor
Kinetic sculptor Tim Prentice ’49 remains hungry to push his own boundaries in kinetic art.
"It’s always the next one that’s my favorite piece,” Prentice said. “With art, you can change anything immediately with your own hands. Right now, we’re doing some experimental pieces, some that really bombed. But that’s what research and development is all about. Otherwise, you’d just be sticking with what you know and not creating anything new.”
Prentice credits time spent outside the Brooks classroom for expanding his interest in art. Though there wasn’t an art department when he was a student, Brooks parent and faculty emerita Alicia Waterston P’56 would take interested students to various local galleries. He vividly recalls a 1940s trip to Phillip Academy’s Addison Gallery in Andover, where an Alexander Calder mobile greeted patrons in the lobby.
Prentice received undergraduate and master’s degrees in architecture from Yale University before founding his award-winning firm of Prentice and Chan in 1965. He watched other young architects push conventional boundaries while finding their own innovative styles, but never felt the same intense connection to his field.
Greatly inspired by artisans Alexander Calder and George Rickey, he believed there was room for more innovation in the field of kinetic art. Thus, Prentice established his kinetic sculpture studio in West Cornwall in 1975.
Prentice and his small team of artisans primarily create substantial public art pieces commissioned for new airports, buildings, and the like. They also create sculptures and installations for galleries, colleges, corporate centers and private homes around the country. He served as an artist-in-residence at the Groton and Hotchkiss Schools.
Since receiving the Distinguished Brooksian Award, Prentice has donated, four-piece kinetic mobile high above the Science Center’s atrium. He also installed wire arachnids and oversized wooden instruments for his indoor/outdoor exhibit, “Making the Air Visible.”
2004 | Samuel Parkman Peabody ’44, Educator and Humanitarian
Samuel Parkman Peabody graduated from Brooks in 1944, followed by Harvard University in 1950 and Columbia University in 1954.
Peabody became the director of Broad Jump in 1977, an organization for Harlem children in grades 2 through 9 working below grade-level. A year later, he helped found Prep for Prep, which identifies academically gifted children from disadvantaged New York City schools and prepares them over a 14-month period to enter independent schools in and around Manhattan, with full scholarships. Prep for Prep flourishes today, having placed nearly 1,000 educationally deprived students in excellent schools and continuing to do tremendous good work.
After retiring from Prep or Prep in 1985, Sam became chairman of the Citizen's Committee for Children, a group devoted to researching and lobbying for children's issues. He still serves on several other non-profit boards, all related to New York City's children.
"Through Sam's efforts, untold numbers of children gained opportunities of which they and their families had never dreamed," Hal Baker ’38 said. "The young man whose own adolescence was challenging and who was so unsure of his future has had a tremendous impact on the futures of thousands, and continues to give to those in need. I think he would agree that he has, by now, grown up into an extraordinary and selfless man."
2003 | Sir Barry M. Bowen ’63, Environmentalist and Statesman
Barry Bowen '63 a diamond in the rough, self-made, nationalistic, an educator, a conservationist, and a man of high standards and great loyalties. The former Belizean senator is also a premiere businessman in the Central American country.
Bowen is the president and chairman of the board of Bowen & Bowen, Ltd., a Belize beverage distributor of Coca Cola. The privately-held company operates several subsidiaries, including the brewing company of Belikin beer, an estate agency for Ford and Kia motor vehicles, and a farming/manufacturing company that make organically-grown coffee.
In 1996, Bowen launched Belize Aquaculture Ltd., a sustainable shrimp farm that has little effect on the environment. The company's annual production tops 300 harvests and 18 million pounds of whole shrimp.
"In agriculture, he has found ways to grow coffee at low altitudes," said former faculty member Morgan Smith. "He has introduced soybeans, coffee and sugar cane into a country that has never produced these crops. He is an agriculturalist. He is also an aquiculturalist, and has engineered some huge shrimp farms in southern Belize. These farms have no effluence to contaminate the waters, but have been able to produce huge, very rapidly growing shrimp. I gather that there is no other shrimp farm as successful as this anywhere on earth.
Needless to say, he has an employer of choice and I believe is the single largest employer in Belize. He has set up villages for his workers and has demanded that they live at his standards of cleanliness in return for which he provides good housing and good education. He has established two schools on his properties which have sent children off to many schools including New England boarding schools. He has worked closely with Mass Audobon and the National Geographic Society. His Eco-tourism camp at Chan Chich Lodge is a model for other such camps and has been visited by birders from all over the globe."
2003 | Edward F. MacNichol '36 | Biologist and Educator
Dr. Edward F. MacNichol, Jr. graduated from Brooks in 1936. He received an A.B. in Physics from Princeton in 1941, and quickly got a job developing radar air tracking equipment during World War II in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's radiation laboratory.
MacNichol's continued his studies at the University of Pennsylvania from 1946 to 1948, subsequently receiving his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1952. He stayed at Johns Hopkins for the following 13 years, no longer a student but rather a teacher.
MacNichol directed the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and was acting director of the National Eye Institute in Washington, D.C., from 1968 to 1972. But his career in biophysics began by gathering data and designed instruments for his mentor H. Keffer Hartline's model of a primitive vision system, for which Hartline received a Nobel Prize.
In the 1970s and 1980s, MacNichol directed the Marine Biological Laboratory's year-round Laboratory of Sensory Physiology. He built the world's best photon-counting microspectrophotometer and pioneered work on the biochemistry of color vision.
In 1986, he became a professor of physiology at Boston University Medical School, retiring at the tender age of 86. MacNichol passed away in 2004.
2002 | Steve Forbes ’66, Publisher
Steve Forbes is president and chief executive officer of Forbes and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine. He is also chairman of the company's American Heritage division, publisher of American Heritage magazine and two quarterlies, American Legacy and American Heritage of Invention & Technology.
He was born on July 18, 1947, in Morristown, New Jersey. He graduated cum laude in 1966 from Brooks, continuing on to receive a B.A. in history from Princeton in 1970. At Princeton, he was the founding editor of Business Today, which became the country's largest magazine published by students for students, with a circulation of 200,000. The magazine continues to be published today by Princeton undergraduates.
Since Forbes assumed his current position in 1990, the Forbes company has launched a variety of new publications and businesses. In 1997, Forbes entered the new media arena with the launch of Forbes.com. The site now attracts more than seven million unique visitors a month and has become the leading destination site for business decision-makers and investors.
The company's flagship publication, Forbes, is the nation's leading business magazine with a circulation topping 900,000. Forbes and Forbes Global together reach a worldwide audience of nearly five million readers.
He is the author of A New Birth of Freedom (Regnery, 1999), a book of bold ideas for the new millennium. He also writes editorials for each issue of Forbes under the heading of "Fact and Comment." A widely respected economic prognosticator, he is the only writer to have won the highly prestigious Crystal Owl Award four times. The prize was formerly given by U.S. Steel Corporation to the financial journalist whose economic forecasts for the coming year proved most accurate.
In both 1996 and 2000, Forbes campaigned vigorously for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States. Key to his platform were a flat tax, medical savings accounts, a new Social Security system for working Americans, parental choice of schools for their children, term limits and a strong national defense. He continues to energetically promote this agenda.
From 1996 to 1999, Forbes was honorary chairman of Americans for Hope, Growth and Opportunity, a grassroots issues advocacy organization founded to advance pro-growth, pro-freedom and pro-family issues. From December 1993 until June 1996, he served as chairman of the Board of Directors of Empower America, a political reform organization founded by Jack Kemp, Bill Bennett and Jeane Kirkpatrick.
President Reagan named Forbes chairman of the bi-partisan Board for International Broadcasting (BIB) in 1985. In this position, he oversaw the operation of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Broadcasting behind the Iron Curtain, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were praised by Poland's Lech Walesa as being critical to the struggle against communism. Forbes was reappointed to his post by President George H. W. Bush and served until 1993.
He currently serves on the boards of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, the Heritage Foundation and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He is on the Board of Overseers of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and sits on the Board of Visitors for the School of Public Policy of Pepperdine University.
2001 | Henry M. Buhl ’48, Humanitarian
A well-known photographer, art collector, philanthropist and community activist, Henry M. Buhl ’48 maintains a constant, enduring effect on the Brooks.
Buhl was born in Detroit, Michigan. Arriving in the second form, he was a quiet achiever. Sports were his main interest then, and he excelled at hockey, crew, squash and football. During his sixth form, while serving as the ice hockey captain, he saw a problem: the school's ice rink in sad disrepair. And Buhl was determined to fix it. His youthful negotiations garnered the school a refurbished rink, the 1947-1948 hockey squad enjoyed the fruits of his labor, and a passion for helping and improving his school was born.
After graduating from Trinity College, he worked as an analyst on Wall Street and mutual fund manager in Geneva. Buhl changed careers in the early 1980s, opening a photography studio in New York City with a few contemporaries.
He began collecting works by emerging downtown artists; his collection of hand images have been displayed in major art museums in the U.S., Spain, Germany and Russia. Buhl previously chaired the Photography Committee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as directed his own foundation that awards two-year grants for excellence in photography.
Buhl retired as a photographer in the early 1990s, donating his equipment to schools and colleges. At this juncture, he decided to created the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless, a nonprofit that New York City's homeless men and women to re-enter the workforce to achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency.
Buhl remains active in every stage of Brooks' development. He has been a faithful phonathon volunteer, hosted countless alumni gatherings in New York, been a steadfast board member and an invaluable trustee. His concern has touched on every aspect of the school, from the Master Plan to the community service van. And he has shown a special interest in the faculty, which has touched them deeply.
2000 | William R. Ferris '60 | Educator
William Ferris '60 remains a well-known leader in Southern studies, African-American music and folklore. He is still active in the classroom, currently a a professor of history and adjunct professor in folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill. He also serves as the associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South.
Ferris previously worked as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.
Ferris is the author and editor of 10 books, in addition to making 15 documentary films. He co-edited Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, a Pulitzer Prize nominee that touched on all aspect of Southern culture. The major reference work links popular, folk and academic cultures.
1998 | Ambassador Wells Stabler ’37, Foreign Service
Although born in Boston in 1919, Wells Stabler ’37 spent his early childhood in South America. He returned to New England for his educational years at Fay School and then Brooks, where he entered the second form in 1932.
At Brooks, he was the baseball manager, on the editorial board of The Bishop, a school prefect, winner of the Russell Prize, and graduated in 1937 cum laude. Four years later, he graduated from Harvard, also cum laude, and entered a career of 37 years in the Department of State and Foreign Service.
His first post in 1944 was as Vice Consul in Jerusalem, and in 1948 he was designated the first U.S. Representative to Jordan. Later Stabler moved on to Washington, serving as political advisor to the United States Representative to the United Nations Trusteeship Council and as officer in charge of Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan affairs.
Following this with a position of acting deputy director of near Eastern affairs, he worked closely with Secretary of State Dean Acheson on the Egyptian situation. From 1953 to 1957, Stabler served as a political officer in the Embassy in Rome. After a stint in Washington, he was assigned in 1960 to the Embassy in Paris, in charge of Internal Political Affairs.
Following another assignment in the State Department, Stabler returned to Rome in 1969 as deputy chief of mission, with the personal rank of minister, accorded to him by President Nixon. In 1974, as principle deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs, Stabler played a major role in supporting Secretary of State Kissinger on the Cyprus problem. In 1975, President Ford appointed him ambassador to Spain, and he served there as that country moved from dictatorship to democracy. He was promoted to the rank of career minister, then the highest rank in the foreign service.
Stabler retired from the foreign service at the end of 1978. For the next six years, he was a full-time consultant to the German Marshall Fund. This American organization was created by a German gift to commemorate the aid Germany received from the U.S. Marshall Plan. His work involved establishing a fellows program for candidates from Germany, Spain and France to study in the United States. He also was associated with the Phillips Art Collection in Washington.
Stabler was awarded the Wilbur Carr Medal for Distinguished Service by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. The King of Spain conferred on him the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel La Catica. He is also a grand officer of the Order of Merit of Italy, a grand officer of the Order of the Star of Jordan, a grand officer of the Order of Merit of the Sovereign Order of Malta, a grand officer of the Order of Saint Agatha of San Marino, an officer of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and, finally, an officer of the Order of Merit of Ecuador.
In all of this, Stabler was ably assisted by his wife, Emily, whom he married in 1953. They have four children and eleven grandchildren.
1997 | Huntington Sheldon ’47, Medicine
Dr. Huntington Sheldon '47, who has been known all of his life to his friends as Skip, arrived at Brooks in the Second Form in the fall of 1942. He was a scholar and an athlete, playing No. 2 on the squash team and goalie on the hockey team, as well as serving as literary editor of The Bishop. He did not give any indication of his interest in science and medicine which was to develop later in his academic career.
He graduated from Brooks in 1947 and went on to McGill University, where he played rugby, hockey and squash, leaving with a B.A. in 1951. Embracing a scientific career, he attended the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and received his M.D. in 1956. He later received a fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians of Canada.
While he was a medical student, he became interested in electron microscopy, and after training in pathology at Johns Hopkins and at the famed Karolinska Institute in Sweden, he became recognized as an expert in that field. Joining the medical faculty at McGill as assistant professor of Pathology in 1959, Sheldon soon became a full professor. He assumed the title Strathcona Professor of Pathology in 1980.
Sheldon's career embraced apogees in two fields of academia: excellence in research, excellence in teaching. His contributions to medical science are included in over 80 publications. He produced the first descriptions of the ultrastructure of cartilage, studied crystal-collagen relationships in bone and made original contributions to our understanding of rickets. Sheldon also provided the first descriptions of the ultrastructure of fat cells and studied the biology of the secretory mechanism of the silk worm. He exploited and expanded the then novel methods of electron microscopy and autoradiography.
Sheldon's work was not limited to research. He is described in a citation by which McGill awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1996, as “perhaps the most exciting teacher of his generation,” for ten years he ran an autopsy conference which was “standing room only.” As a pathologist, Sheldon was asked to spend two months each year in the department of medicine because his teaching of disease processes was so stimulating. Sheldon also taught cell biology for two years at Harvard Medical School. He has published a textbook of pathology for health professionals which in 1996 appeared in its twelfth edition.
Sheldon has been a longtime active and generous philanthropist. Following his interest in classical music, he was responsible for obtaining a French baroque organ for McGill and is an active member of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the faculty of music, which was instrumental in the planning for a new music building. Sheldon also arranged for the establishment of the Sheldon Biotechnology Center for work in molecular biology. In addition he is a member of the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins and serves on its Faculty Advisory Committee.
He is a first class competitive sailor and has participated successfully in offshore races, including the Bermuda Race, the Fastnet races in the Caribbean and off the East Coast, and also Sweden and the Baltic region. Sheldon is also an active cross country skier and has been a successful orienteering competitor. From 1972 to 1977, he was team leader of the Canadian national cross country ski team, which participated in the World Championships in 1973 and the Olympics in 1974.
Sheldon retired from McGill in 1985 and set up residence in Shelburne, Vermont, where he has raised a championship flock of Suffolk and Dorset sheep. In 1989, he was named a "Master Shepherd" by the State of Vermont. He lives there with his wife Del, and two daughters. He has two daughters by a prior marriage.
1996 | Thomas C. Platt ’43, U.S. District Court Chief Justice
The Honorable Thomas C. Platt was born May 29, 1925, in New York, New York. He grew up in New York and on Long Island and matriculated at Brooks in 1937.
At Brooks, he played on the football team, was school prefect, and chancellor of the school court. Platt graduated from Brooks magna cum laude in 1943 and entered Yale University. His college years were interrupted by two years in the Navy where he served as the executive officer on a PT boat. He was en route to Japan shortly before the first atomic bomb was dropped.
Platt returned to Yale in September, 1946, graduating the following spring. He entered Yale Law School that fall and earned his LL.B. in 1950. While in law school, Platt married Ann Byrd Symington. They have four children, two of whom, Charles C., and Thomas C. III, graduated from Brooks in 1971 and 1973 respectively.
Early in his professional career, Platt worked at the distinguished law firm of Root, Ballantine, Harlan, Bushby and Palmer. He also served three years as a federal prosecutor from 1950 to 1953. He left in 1953 to return temporarily to the Bleakly Platt law firm in New York City.
In 1974, President Nixon appointed Platt to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York; a lifetime appointment. In 1988, he became chief judge of that court and served in that capacity until 1995.
Platt presided over many high-profile cases. In a ruling that addressed a still highly controversial and topical issue, he excluded the media from a civil rape case during the testimony involving the singer Connie Francis. He held the air traffic controllers in contempt when they went on strike in 1980. And in a case alleging the Sam Goody record store chain of distributing pirated music, Platt had the distinct, if not unique pleasure of ordering Billy Joel to cease and desist from chewing gum in his courtroom.
Although a Republican appointee, Platt has not been partisan in his rulings. He has dealt sternly with large corporations that have broken the law. He sent highly placed Beech Nut Foods executives to jail for selling colored water as fruit juice, and affirmed a jury award holding Pan Am Airlines legally responsible for the Lockerbie disaster.
Platt is a firm but temperate jurist. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, he has been heard to describe his own decision making style, "maybe in error, but never in doubt." Maybe so, but Platt also harbors a reputation for resolving cases wisely and efficiently, and for his civility towards all who appear before him. He is particularly respected for taking a great interest in the education of young law clerks who work for him, and young lawyers who appear before him. His courtroom remains what a courtroom has always been intended: a hallowed hall of justice.
When called upon to comment about his philosophy or career, Platt consistently credits Brooks as one of his most important influences. In 1968, the Board of Trustees of Brooks appointed him president of the Alumni Association and a member of the Board. Two years later he was elected president of the Board of Trustees, a position he held until his appointment to the bench.
1995 | William W. Kellog Ph.D. ’35, Geophysicist and Meteorologist
St. Valentine's is a very special day for William Kellog ’35. He was born on that day in 1917; was commissioned a second lieutenant and married on that day in 1942; retired on that day in 1987. And on that day in 1995, he was chosen as a Distinguished Brooksian.
Long before becoming a world-famous scientist, Kellog distinguished himself at Brooks as the most homesick new boy to arrive in September of 1930. However, he soon recovered and became an excellent student with great curiosity and interest in all school activities.
Inspired in the sciences by Waldo Holcombe and Oscar Root, Kellog's friends called him "Uncle Buck," because of his passion for the wonders of outer space. One of Kellog's early goals was to walk on the moon. Though he did not quite get to the moon, Kellog has been dubbed "the father of the first meteorological satellite" (TIROS 1) launched on April 1,1960, atop a Thor booster rocket. His wife's nickname is Thor.
After Brooks, Kellog earned a B.A. with honors from Yale where he majored in physics, stroked the lightweight crew, and was tapped for Skull and Bones. He then returned to Brooks for a year dedicated to teaching science while his mentor Mr. Holcombe was on sabbatical.
In 1940, he began graduate studies in physics at Berkeley where he met Betty Thorsen, his future wife. A year later, Kellog joined the Army Air Corps as a cadet in meteorology and pilot training. After the war he won a Ph.D. in geophysics at UCLA with his thesis on the atmosphere at the fringe of space.
Kellog's career soon went into high gear. As a scientist and department head at the Rand Corporation for 17 years, he conceived and helped to develop the TIROS 1 weather satellite, perfected a scheme for predicting radioactive fallout, and wrote a book with his protege Carl Sagan on the atomospheres of Mars and Venus. He became associate director and then senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado in 1964. There he researched global warming, air pollution, and interactions between science and society. He was noted for the diversity of his research and for his fervent recognition of the role of science in the affairs of mankind.
Kellog was active in several professional organizations, serving as president for many, like the American Meteorology Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served as advisor to the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, and as director of research of the Naval Environment Prediction Research Facility in Monterey.
Kellog did not always have his head in the clouds. His feet were planted on the ground when it came to his love of the earth at his beloved ranch in the mountains of Colorado. He shared this beautiful place with his wife Thor, his 5 children, 6 grandchildren, and many friends.
1994 | Charles Henry Wheelright Foster ’45, Environmentalist and Author
Charles Henry Wheelright Foster, the second of three brothers to attend Brooks, entered school in 1939 with the Class of 1945. Early on, Foster happily fell under the spell of science department chairman Oscar Root whose teaching not only enabled him to expand an interest in nature, but prepared him for a life which has helped to benefit mankind.
A scholar, an athlete, and a school prefect, Foster graduated from Brooks cum laude starring in football, basketball, baseball and competitive squash. A champion at Brooks, he went on to play three years of varsity squash at Harvard, win the National Intercollegiate championship, and, in his senior year, to captain an undefeated team. His coach, Harvard's legendary Jack Barnaby, says Foster, who played number one, "was the greatest captain I ever had."
At Harvard, at his father's request, Foster majored in English. But upon graduation in 1951, he started all over again in a field that he really loved – natural resources. He received first a bachelor's degree in forestry and later a master's in wildlife management from the University of Michigan. Thirteen years later, he was awarded a Ph.D in geography by Johns Hopkins.
Foster's professional career began in 1953 when he was appointed executive secretary of Wildlife Conservation Incorporated. But in 1959, he began what was to become a distinguished career in public service, serving for seven years as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources and later, for five years, in the Governor's cabinet as secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
During that time, he played a major role in the establishment of the National Seashore at Cape Cod; led the way to the passage of a pioneering bill to protect the Commonwealth's coastal wetlands; and was instrumental with an important reorganization of State Government.
He was also selected as the first "professional" president of The Nature Conservancy. An early interest in regionalism led him to establish the New England Natural Resource Center. And from 1976 to 1981, Foster was dean of Yale University's prestigious School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Foster also served Brooks as a Trustee for ten years.
Recently, Foster has returned to active, academic life and writing. He has taught environmental policy at Tufts University, Brown University and Harvard College. He is the author of numerous books which deal with regional and environmental topics including a new history of the Appalachian Trail and one on the reintroduction of salmon into the Connecticut River.
1993 | Henry Lyman ’33, Conservationist and Publisher
Henry Lyman '33 was a writer, a notable fisherman, conservationist, a quail and grouse hunter, and almost universally known as Wunk.
Lyman graduated cum laude from Harvard College in 1937. He was in the U.S. Naval Reserve during the World War II, with active duty on destroyers from 1940 through 1946, and again in 1952 to 1953, retiring with the rank of Commander.
Lyman incorporated Harvard Magazine, before becoming president and publisher of Salt Water Sportsman in 1947. He was heavily involved with fish ever since, writing about them and fishing for them. He served on a sizable variety of marine fisheries panels or advisory groups at the state, interstate, federal, and international levels.
Lyman is author or co-author of nine books on various aspects of marine angling, as well as articles on marine fisheries for a variety of periodicals and angling anthologies. He is founder, former chairman of the board, and a life trustee of the New England Aquarium in Boston.
For several decades, Lyman served as director and executive committee member of the Atlantic Salmon Federation in Bowdoinham, Maine and St. Andrews, N.B., Canada. He also was the director and executive committee member of the environmental lobby of Massachusetts and director and former chairman of the board of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, Savanna, Georgia.
Lyman's many awards include Maryland governor's "Admiral of the Chesapeake Bay" and, in 1992, the Massachusetts David L. Belding Award presented to him by Governor Weld to honor the state's leading marine resource conservationist.
1993 | Charles P. Lyman Ph.D. '32 | Educator
Dr. Charles Peirson Lyman '32 of Brookline was in the first graduating class at Brooks. He subsequently graduated from Harvard College in 1936, receiving a master's degree in 1939 and a doctorate in 1942.
A major in the US Army Air Corps, Lyman was stationed in the Pacific during World War II. He researched methods of of preventing altitude sickness and trained aviators to use oxygen equipment.
Lyman went on to be a well-renowned biology professor and conservationist, dedicating his professional career to the labs and classrooms at Harvard. He was a biology professor at Harvard College, as well as an associate professor of anatomy at Harvard Medical School. He also served as a visiting professor at Cornell University.
Lyman was also the curator of mammals at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College, as well as the curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum at the Harvard Medical School. He founded Harvard's Concord Field Station, and in 1991 a professorship in Harvard's department of biology was named in his honor.
Through a grant from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, Lyman studied hibernation and reactions to the environmental extremes in mammals and birds. His work contributed to both the advancement of cardiac and brain surgery, as well as the physiological regulation of astronauts in space.
Also the manager of the Pakeen Farm in Canton, Lyman was a committed conservationist who served with the Trustees of Reservations and the Society for Promotion and Agriculture. He donated many acres for preserved open space before passing away in 2000.
1991 | Frank David Ashburn, Educator
Brooks' first headmaster, Frank David Ashburn, was also the first recipient of the Distinguished Brooksian Award. In the forefront of American education for nearly 50 years and founder of Brooks School, he set standards of excellence in the classroom and on the playing fields.
Widely traveled as a child, Ashburn focused on a role of leadership and school work at Groton School, where he was a senior prefect and baseball captain. At Yale University, he furthered his academic and leadership qualities by editing The Yale Daily News, being tapped for Yale's most prestigious Senior Society and graduating a Rhodes Scholar. He subsequently received honorary degrees from Trinity College and Yale University.
Although Ashburn was attending law school when approached by Rev. Endicott Peabody of Groton to establish a new secondary school, he chartered a course at Brooks that remained on the same reach for forty-six years.
Ashburn's philosophy was encapsulated in one of his headmaster's letters: "We want the student to be free from apron strings, to learn to stand on his own feet, receiving the judgment of his peers, to have him meet triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same. We want him to develop a sense of loyalty and an awareness of the beauty and terror of the world --to learn the meaning of hard work and unprejudiced judgment, to develop a sound, informed mind in a healthy body, to acquire the sense that to whom much is given, of him much is expected."
His concern for the "late bloomer" or the individual off to a bad start is legendary. Many Brooksians turned themselves around on the shores of Lake Cochichewick.
Ashburn wrote about his schoolmaster beliefs in the books A Parent’s Guide to Independent Schools and Peabody of Groton. He also published a volume of verse, Moods and Persons.
He contributed heavily to the American educational effort, being chairman of the College Entrance Examination Board, president of The Headmasters Association, chairman of The National Council of Independent Schools, president of the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, trustee of several schools, and chairman of the Yale University Council and the North Andover School Committee.