Henry Francis Wanning, III

Born: October 10, 1940
Died: July 3, 2017

On July 3, Frank died at his home in Blue Hill, Maine, surrounded by his family. He was born in New Haven, the son of H.F.Wanning II and Elizabeth Marvin Wanning.

He is survived by his wife Christine, his children Katherine 1967; Mathew, 1970; Jamie, 1987; Lucy, 1993; Harriet, 1995; and his sister, Betsy Harries, along with many nieces, nephews and cousins; sisters- and brothers-in-law and relatives in the United Kingdom and Wales, and lifelong friends around the world.

At the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia he played soccer, golf and squash, was in the glee club and edited his class yearbook. Our classmate Rod Speer forwarded me that information and the following note which he sent to Episcopal for his 50th reunion, from which I excerpt. It tells his life path in his typically witty and ironic way. Frank was a fine writer.

“Gently slithering through EA was great preparation for doing the same at Yale. After being accepted at law schools I woke in a cold sweat not wanting to go to school again right away, so went to the Philippines with the Peace Corps where I taught a little and drank vast quantities of San Miguel beer.

“After a year of graduate school at the Thunderbird School of Global Management I joined the Foreign Service (not the spook one; really) and spent ten years mostly working on economic policy. Got shot at during the civil war in the Dominican Republic. Back in Washington while still in the Foreign Service I went to work in the White House in the spring of ‘74, where during the height of Watergate I was restricted to my office one night so that Nixon could roam the halls and get drunk with Kissinger.

“After leaving the Foreign Service I went to work in Atlanta for Coca Cola, supposedly to change their sugar procurement system. It didn’t happen so next I was off to London, supposedly for a year, to work for a British sugar and refining company. I stayed for almost 19 years working for three different companies, including briefly the infamous Marc Rich (indicted for tax evasion and making oil deals with Iran). While in London I got divorced and remarried twice, and had three more kids. (I am a devout believer in serial monogamy, roughly fifteen years each for the first two, forever for the wonderful Christine!) In 1996 I returned to the US, retired in 2003 and picked up stakes from Fairfield County, CT. and moved to Blue Hill, Maine, where I spent almost all the summers of my childhood. The last years have been happy healthy and busy. I’m on the Board of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, and the hybrid public/private high school called George Stevens Academy. We love small town life. We live in an old house in the middle of the village, walk everywhere, including the kids to their schools. Life is good.”

From his obit and material provided by Tappy Wilder: He loved cooking Maine-inspired recipes for friends and family; was an excellent golfer (local Blue Hill champion) fond of saying, “I can see the ball a whole lot farther than I can hit it”; and sailing the fabled Downeast cruising waters of Blue Hill Bay and Eggemoggin Reach on his sloop Cat’s Paw. (Frank preferred being on the water to being in the water. “Swimming is when you sink to the bottom and run like hell,” he maintained.) He also leaves behind three cats bequeathed to him against his will by college-bound daughters, and a large HD TV that, to his family’s knowledge, only airs news and sports, with the Red Sox at the top of the list.

At Yale, he majored in History and was on the Dean’s List, was Senior Editor of the Yale Daily News, and Captain of the Timothy Dwight soccer team. He roomed with Rod Speer, Kit Kincade, Frank Ayres, Danny Kane, Bruce Lindquist and me.

Along with Frank Ayres and Bruce Lindquist I roomed with Frank sophomore year. He was an easy roommate, very good company, rather quieter than the three of us but a very good listener, always ready with something to keep us in our place. We were in a sophomore seminar together, one of my favorite courses, with the not-yet-famous Geoffrey Hartman. Frank was not one of the loudest but certainly one of the most cogent. We sat up all night late in spring to study for the final, lists of quotations, which we were meant to identify and comment on. Frank was a terrific squash player. At Episcopal, he told me, he was at the bottom of the team squash ladder when the top athletes were nationally ranked. This did not prevent him from absent-mindedly allowing me a couple of points to be trounced frustratingly quickly!

Tappy Wilder, who grew up in Blue Hill with Frank (and may be the only classmate to visit him at Thunderbird!) spoke at a Celebration of his life held on July 17. Tappy writes as follows: “Frank, hardly a man of faith, filled the Blue Hill Congregational Church on a nearly-rainy July day. No wonder. To many summer-only friends he added a ton more from Blue Hill and the region after he moved there permanently in 2003. An important piece of the last chapter of his life was his significant service to A-List boards, notable the local academy (high school) and most especially, at the end of his life, the Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, whose board he served as chair (and where, incidentally, his daughter Lucy is now a nurse). Representatives of these two institutions delivered over-the-top tributes to Frank on July 17, clearly a board member who did not leave his marvelous brain at the door.

In brief remarks I talked about Frank’s brain, his gifted way with language, and the happiness he found after the permanent move with Chris and their two kids to Blue Hill. My notes show that I hailed him as a member of the “Holy & Blessed Universal Order of the Clam,” an organization composed of people (too few, alas) who only speak when they have something useful to say, often ending their remarks (oral and written) with a zinger. Pointing up his skill with the pen, I told a Yale College story of how Wanning’s themes in the legendary Daily Themes Course left the instructor, Prof. Michael Cowan in tears, making it impossible for him to focus on the drivel provided by alphabetically next-in-line, Wilder. I ended by saying that I was especially glad that Frank had died where he had been most happy, and concluded by reading this zinger from his Yale 50th Reunion Class Book report: “People often ask me what we do in the winter up here in the frozen north. Except for those in the sub-tropics, we do the same as you do. For the latter, what do you do in the summer?”

The older I get the more I treasure Memory. How fortunate I am to have known Frank. I treasure his friendship – and now his memory — Tappy

John Harger Stewart