Saturday, March 07, 2009

John U. Monro

Yesterday I had lunch with Toni-Lee, a friend from Boston who is working on a biography of John U. Monro, who died in 2002 at age 89 and was one of the most remarkable men I've ever known. John and I were colleagues for five years at Tougaloo College, 1978-83. Following his service as a WWII navel officer on the carrier "Enterprise," John held various high-level administrative positions at Harvard before leaving Boston to begin working in historically black colleges, Miles (in Birmingham) and then Tougaloo (in Jackson). His extensive New York Times obituary indicates his prominence and the unanimous respect accorded him by all who knew of his work. Last October, a portrait of Monro was unveiled at the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.
Toni-Lee has been working on the biography for several years and has traveled around the country interviewing his fellow naval officers, university colleagues, and friends. She has conducted research and interviews at Harvard, Tougaloo, and Miles and has spent days in California poring over papers and memorabilia with John's daughter, who coincidentally was a classmate of my wife at Mount Holyoke in the 1960's and has been a big help in the bio project. Toni-Lee brought along a batch of papers and photos to show me. Today she's scheduled to interview a former Tougaloo colleague and friend (now living in Columbia) who also worked closely with John. I wish Toni-Lee the best and am eager to see this project come to fruition.

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