In Memoriam: Mary Louise Brewster, Widow of Yale's 17th President Kingman Brewster

Mary Louise Brewster, widow of Yale’s 17th President, Kingman Brewster, died April 14 at her home in Combe, Berkshire, England at age 83.

Born Mary Louise Phillips in Providence, Rhode Island to Mary and Eugene Phillips, she attended Miss Wheeler’s School in Providence and Vassar College. In 1942 she married Brewster, who was then in the armed services during World War II.

Prior to coming to New Haven in 1959, she and her family lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Brewster was named Provost of Yale and they resided at 55 Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven. In 1963, Brewster became Yale’s President and they moved to the President’s House at 43 Hillhouse Avenue.

Before his term as President of Yale came to an end in 1977, Kingman Brewster became known for the improvements he made to Yale’s faculty, curriculum, and admissions policies, and for his resourceful handling of student protests against the Vietnam War. His presidency was also marked by the Black Panther trial and the admission of women as undergraduates. After leaving Yale, he served as United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom from 1977 to 1981 and later was Master of University College, University of Oxford, serving from 1986 until his death there in 1988.

Those who remember Mary Louise Brewster recall the warmth of her personality and the way in which she welcomed staff, faculty, students, alumni, New Haven residents and guests to her home. She and her husband had an unusually close relationship and were often seen walking their dogs on the Yale campus and in New Haven.

“Mary Louise Brewster’s warmth and sense of humor were felt and appreciated by thousands in the Yale community and beyond. In her time, the Yale President’s House was a place in which students, faculty, and staff were welcomed with grace and style,” said Yale President Richard Levin. “She will be greatly missed.”

Brewster is survived by five children: Constance Dedelow, Kingman Brewster, Jr., Deborah, Alden and Riley, and 11 grandchildren. In addition to her husband, she was pre-deceased by two grandchildren, Benjamin Holloway and Luke Dedelow.

She will be buried next to her husband in the Grove Street Cemetery in a private ceremony later in the year.

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