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Willard D. Straight


Centurion, 1914–1918

Full Name Willard Dickerman Straight

Born 31 January 1880 in Oswego, New York

Died 1 December 1918 in Paris, France

Buried Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial, Suresnes, Île-de-France, France

Proposed by Walter B. James and Thomas Hastings

Elected 4 April 1914 at age thirty-four

Century Memorial

With these two citizen soldiers [Raynal Bolling and Fancher Nicoll], whose death has peculiarly consecrated for the Century the soil of Northern France, may worthily be associated Major Willard Dickerman Straight, who died in December of pneumonia contracted in active and zealous service in the field. Not yet forty years of age, Major Straight had achieved a notable reputation as diplomat in the Orient, as international banker, and as expert in international law. Son of a missionary to the East, he acquired the unusual faculty of speaking fluently both the Chinese and Japanese languages. Sir Robert Hart invoked his services in the administration of the Chinese maritime customs; then, in the Russo-Japanese war, he took a turn at journalism, as correspondent in Tokio [Tokyo] and Manchuria for the great American and European press associations. It was when appointed to the consular service at Seoul and Mukden, and later in his work with the State Department at Washington, that Straight showed the qualities of vigor and tenacity in defending American interests, by reason of which he was enlisted later in the important field of Oriental public loans.

Afterwards member of the firm of J. P. Morgan & Company, and later one of the executive heads of the powerful company formed to promote our expanding foreign trade, he relinquished this great career to enter the army when the United States declared war on Germany, and was serving at the front when the end came. Happier in one respect than his two fellow-Centurion comrades in arms who fell in action, he had lived to see the invaders of Belgium and France raise the white flag, and the American army moving towards the Rhine to enforce the terms of the great surrender.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1919 Century Association Yearbook