NEW HAVEN, CONN. — Ruth Ellen du Pont Lord, who wrote a deeply insightful book about her father, collector Henry Francis du Pont, died in New Haven on August 4. Lord, who resided in New Haven and East Lyme, Conn., was 92.
“Ruth Lord’s death marks the end of an era for Winterthur. Her unstinting generosity in sharing memories of her family and life at Winterthur when it was a home has been tremendously important to the institution,” said Maggie Lidz, estate historian at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in Winterthur, Del.
In the opening chapter of Henry F. du Pont and Winterthur: A Daughter’s Portrait, published by Yale University Press in 1999, Lord wrote that at times “the scale and density of our living quarters there overwhelmed me, and when I was not very old I became aware of my passion for another house, one that seemed to symbolize much of the place I treasured. Alone on a walk by my father’s nine-hole golf course, and dreaming of romance and as yet unknown loves, I noticed as if for the first time a narrow, tall stone building with a hill exactly its height on one side and a huge maple tree by the front door. It was the Golf Cottage, untenanted and bare of furniture.”
Of the man who created what would become Winterthur Museum, she said, “I came to realize that in part my father’s reticence — for he volunteered little about his interests or his life, past or present — was born of both shyness and modesty.”
Lord was born January 14, 1922, and grew up in splendor at the family’s estates in Delaware and Boca Grande, Fla., and in New York City. She studied at the Foxcroft School and Vassar College before earning a master’s degree in education from Yale University. First at Yale New Haven Hospital and later at the Yale Child Study Center, she devoted herself to issues affecting the well-being of children. She co-founded New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre in 1964.
With her first husband, George de Forest Lord, she reared three children, Pauline, George and Henry. The couple lost a fourth child, Edith, in infancy. The Lords divorced in 1977. Her second husband, John Grier Holmes, died in 1997. Lord’s partner in later years was Harold G. Haskell, an acquaintance from Chadds Ford, Penn.
Services are planned for August 16 at 3 pm at St Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme, Conn., and on September 6 at 11 am at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Greenville, Del. Burial will be in the du Pont Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Lord’s memory to the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven or to the Albert J. Solnit Program at the Yale Child Study Center.