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Jerome Davis Greene

General Manager, Rockefeller Institute

Centurion, 1913–1959

Born 12 October 1874 in Yokohama, Japan

Died 29 March 1959 in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Buried Pine Grove Cemetery, Westborough, Massachusetts

Proposed by Albert Bushnell Hart and Austen G. Fox

Elected 1 March 1913 at age thirty-eight

Archivist’s Note: Brother of Evarts Boutell Greene and Roger S. Greene

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

Probably no one in his generation has done more for Harvard than Jerome Greene. After working his way through Harvard College and the Harvard Law School by newspaper work and tutoring jobs in the summer, his sense of loyalty and gratitude to the University lasted through his long life. In his later years his brilliant work for Harvard compensated him for the personal disaster he encountered in his business career.

He was born in Yokohama in 1874, the son of American Congregational missionaries, and his first dozen years were spent in Japan. When he was thirteen, he came to the United States and prepared for Harvard, which he entered with the class of 1896. After he was graduated, he spent two years in the law school. Like many men who have had legal education, he never practiced law; yet he gave abundant proof of the contention—much alive in these days—that this study is of great value in any profession as well as in the higher reaches of business.

From the turn of the century Jerome had a varied career. But Harvard was always an anchor, and he never drifted far from her support. He was secretary to President Charles W. Eliot from 1901 to 1905, when he became secretary to the Harvard Corporation. Five years later, he came to New York as the first business manager of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, and in 1913 he became the first executive officer of the Rockefeller Foundation. He resigned in 1917 to accept a partnership in the Boston firm of Lee, Higginson and Company. During the First World War he was in London as executive secretary of the American Shipping Mission, and in 1919 he was the American member of the Secretariat of the Reparations Committee at the Versailles Peace Conference.

In the depression the investment banking firm to which he had given fifteen years of effort became a total casualty, and Jerome suffered overwhelming personal financial losses. The next two years after this disaster in 1932 he spent as a professor of international politics at the University College of Wales. This seemed to his host of friends in America a kind of retirement, and he was greatly missed.

But Harvard simply could not get along without Jerome Greene. He had become so integral a part of it that Cambridge just didn’t look right without him. And Harvard at this time was planning its greatest celebration since it had been, for the settlers of Massachusetts Bay in 1636 the “first flower of their wilderness, star of their night.” Who, then, was the logical designer and administrator of this Tercentary but Jerome Davis Greene?

The beauty and dignity of that festival will be long re membered not only by Harvard men but by educators everywhere. For Jerome Greene it was a triumphant return to the field of his earlier success. He again became secretary of the Harvard Corporation and there, under the presidency of Centurion James Bryant Conant, he remained until his retirement in 1943.

Since then he was a familiar figure at the Century. Though his home was in Cambridge, he came to the Club whenever he was in New York. His friends among us were many indeed, and he was greatly beloved.

Roger Burlingame
1960 Century Association Yearbook