Luce, Henry, III (“Hank”)

views updated

Luce, Henry, III (“Hank”)

(b. 28 April 1925 in New York City; d. 7 September 2005 in Fishers Island, New York), foundation executive, magazine publisher, philanthropist, trustee, and art collector and patron who used his family wealth and connections to become a significant contributor to cultural and political life in America.

Luce was born at Flower Hospital in New York City, the elder son of Henry Robinson Luce, the founder and editor in chief of Time Incorporated and Lila Hotz Luce, a socialite. He was the grandson of Henry Winters Luce, who with his wife, Elizabeth, was a Presbyterian educational missionary in China. His parents divorced when Luce was ten years old; within six weeks his father had married Clare Booth Brokaw, playwright, politician, ambassador, and war correspondent for Life Magazine.

The younger Luce went to Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, graduating in 1942. He joined the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and entered Yale University in the fall, but, like many men in his class, he left college in 1943 to enter the military during World War II. Luce served as a lieutenant on the USS McGinty, a destroyer escort in the Pacific. After the war he returned to Yale and finished his studies in 1948, earning a degree in psychology.

Luce married Patricia Porter on 27 June 1947; the couple had two children and divorced in 1954. Luce then married Claire McGill on 6 August 1960, and she passed away in June 1971. He married Nancy Bryan Cassiday on 15 August 1975, and she passed away in March 1987. On 5 January 1990 Luce married Leila Eliott Burton Hadley, who had been a bridesmaid in his first wedding.

Luce’s first postwar job (1948–1949) was as assistant to Joseph P. Kennedy, a member of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, known as the Hoover Commission. His next job, from 1949 to 1951, was as a crime reporter for the Cleveland Press. In 1951 he joined Time Incorporated, his father’s company. His first position there was as a Washington correspondent for Time, writing cover stories on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-WI); Vice President Richard M. Nixon; Speaker of the House Joseph W. Martin, Jr.; and the presidential adviser Joseph Dodge.

In 1953 Luce became a foreign news and national affairs writer for Time, based at the New York City office. In 1956 he became the head of the company team that planned and supervised construction of the new Time & Life Building at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

After the building was finished in 1960, Luce held a variety of other positions at Time Inc. His jobs included circulation director of Fortune and Architectural Forum from 1961 to 1964 and of House and Home from 1962 to 1964, London bureau chief of Time-Life News Service from 1966 to 1968, publisher of Fortune from 1968 to 1969 and of Time from 1969 to 1972, and vice president for corporate planning from 1972 to 1980. In 1961 he founded the Time-Life Music division, which he said brought him great satisfaction. From 1964 to 1980 he was a vice president of Time Inc. He also served on the board of directors for Time Inc. (later renamed Time Warner) from 1967 to 1996.

Luce was also a key part of the continued development and good works at the Henry Luce Foundation. He became the foundation’s president and chief executive officer in 1958 and was chairman from 1990 to 2002, when he became chairman emeritus. The foundation was established in 1936 by Luce’s father with 400 shares of Time Inc. stock. It supports programs in higher education, Asian affairs, American art, the environment and public policy, theology, and women in science and engineering. Since 1973 the foundation has sponsored the Luce Scholars program.

A man who felt that service to the community was an essential part of living, Luce was extremely active in philanthropic works and contributed much of his time to help community-based organizations. Among his many positions, he was president of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City; trustee of the Brooklyn Museum of Art; commissioner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; and board member of the National Academy of Arts and Design. He acted as trustee of the Princeton Theological Seminary’s Center of Theological Enquiry, the New York Historical Society, the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, and the Yale-China Association. Luce was also director of the National Committee on United States–China Relations and chairman of the American Council for the United Nations University. He served as an elder of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Luce received honorary doctorates from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont; Long Island University; Pratt Institute in New York City; the College of Wooster in Ohio; Mapúa Institute of Technology in the Philippines; and Central Philippine University. He was given awards and medals from the American Association of Museums (1994), the New York State Council on the Arts (1995), the Central Park Conservancy of New York (1996), the New York Historical Society (1997), the Saint Nicholas Society (1998), the Foreign Policy Association (1997), the Brooklyn Museum of Art (2000), and the Philippine Women’s University (2000). Luce left many legacies, including the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture at the New York Historical Society, the Luce Center for American Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Luce Foundation Center for American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. He was elected a Living Landmark of New York by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

After a long and very productive life, Luce died at his home on Fishers Island, New York, of cardiac arrest. His wife remarked that “he looked as though he were having a pleasant dream.” He is buried at the New Saint John’s Cemetery on Fishers Island. A memorial celebration of his life was held two months after his death at the New York Historical Society. Lance Morrow, a writer for Time and one of the numerous speakers at the event, remarked that Luce was a “distinctive combination of intelligence, integrity, grumpiness, and... an unpretentious, endearingly self-effacing matter-of-factness that, for all the burnish of this public life, amounted to honest humility.”

For the life and work of Luce, see H. Christopher Luce, “The Henry Luce Foundation: A Century of Service to Christianity and Higher Education in China,” Pacific Rim Report 12 (Mar. 2000). Obituaries are in the New York Times (10 Sept. 2005), Los Angeles Times (12 Sept. 2005), and Times (London) (22 Sept. 2005).

Joan Goodbody