John Henry 'Jack' Brandt

Born: July 30, 1940
Died: September 24, 2017

John Henry Brandt of Lincoln, Massachusetts died at age 77 years on September 24, 2017, following a brief illness. Jack was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Harold P. Brandt and Dorothy H. (Kern) Brandt. For the past 37 years he was married to his beloved wife, Marilyn. At Yale he was the first major in the History of Science and Medicine. In addition to the Whiffenpoofs he sang with the Bachelors and in the Thomas Moore Choir. He was a National Merit Scholar, a member of the Yale Glee Club and Skull and Bones.

An expert seaman, he favored the Maine coast. A talented historian, Jack pursued his passion for the history of science and medicine at Yale and as a Mellon Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, England. Ultimately, he settled on a medical career, receiving his M.D. from Harvard and specialty training in psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont. For two decades prior to his retirement in 1999, he served as a staff psychiatrist in the medical department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retirement allowed Jack to turn full time to the true loves of his life, Marilyn, music, and a never-ending search for all forms of beauty. It was a rare Friday afternoon when Jack and Marilyn could not be found together at Boston Symphony Hall, followed by Friday evening at the Harvard Musical Association and weekend concerts of Boston Baroque or Handel and Haydn. For the rest, there were always new and beautiful gardens to find, historic homes to visit, gems of art to savor and hidden histories to share about the fascinating worlds that were there for the taking. Part of the sharing included membership and service in many clubs and associations like the Algonquin Club, the St. Botolph Club, the Harvard Musical Association, the Boston Athenaeum, the Cosmos Club of Washington D.C. and the Yale and Harvard Clubs of Boston and New York. At various times he was also a member of the Trinity Church archive committee, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, and the Bostonian and Colonial Societies. Jack enjoyed fellowship and friendships wherever he went. In addition to Marilyn, Jack is survived by daughters Sylvia Ellison and her husband Craig Mesure and Laura Ellison and her partner Mike Kelly; grandchildren Alice Miller, Windom and Harper Mesure; sisters Jean Kubichek and Margaret Cameron; and ten nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of John H. Brandt to the Boston Athenaeum Annual Fund, 10 1/2 Beacon St. Boston, MA 02108 or to The Newton-Wellesley Hospital Charitable Foundation, 2014 Washington St. Newton MA 02462.

Peter Clark, Margaret and Peter Sipple, Louis Mackall and Patricia Klindienst, Carl Kaestle, Cam and Angela Carey and I attended his memorial service. It was very important, it turns out, to Jack’s friends and family that the 9 of us were there. In the minister’s summation of Jack’s life, it became very apparent that having been a Whiff was extremely important to Jack. From what was said, to me it was clear he treasured his membership, continuing to play Whiff CDs and talking about his experience. The church was jammed full. A ‘cellist and organist played Bach, his two daughters gave very touching memories. Even though he divorced their mother when they were very young, they forged strong and loving relationships with him. Overall it seems to me that he grew up to become a good friend with a great marriage, and a happy productive life, full of friends and lots of music. A somewhat startling moment for us was that we were invited (compelled!?) to stand up in front of the congregation to lead them in a hymn which only Peter Sipple knew. I think we acquitted ourselves decently if not well, and received thanks after. I suppose it was more about the act than the esthetic quality, and it speaks to Jack’s pride in his Whiff connection.

He died with his wife and daughters at his bedside and his last words were “I love you.”

By John Harger Stewart

From friend Carol McMullen:

Jack Brandt was a kind, thoughtful and brilliant individual. I always loved spending time with Jack because I always learned something new when we were together. His knowledge of music was encyclopedic. His range of information on history and art was astonishing. We loved enjoying a fine French wine together.

Jack came to our annual Boxing Day party. We gathered around the piano and sang together- about 75 guests and family- most of whom have wonderful singing voices. However, Jack’s was always amongst the most admired of the voices. He enjoyed singing with friends and was always an active participant.

From Marilyn Brandt

Jack loved Yale. Over the years, from time to time, we would go back to visit. He enjoyed showing me around – stopping in at the Elizabethan Club, The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Museums and of course having lunch at Mory’s.

Last fall we enjoyed attending the opening of the David Friend (Yale ’69) Mineral Hall at the Peabody Museum.