Web Exclusives: Rally 'Round the Cannon -- Princeton history
by Gregg Lange '70
Bud Wynne '39 *40
at Reunions in 2005.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
March 19, 2008:
a tough act
Bud Wynne ’39 *40 was a champion of all things
By Gregg Lange ’70
Quickly now, who was on the second team that climbed
Mount Everest? Who was the second black man to play modern major-league
baseball [here’s a cheroot for you if you know it was Larry
Doby, who received an honorary doctorate from Princeton in 1997,
50 years later]? John Adams was essential in creating the United
States, but not in running it; his mixed success as second president
got him voted out at the first opportunity.
Anybody who thinks that succeeding Fred Fox ’39
was easier than succeeding George Washington never met Freddy Fox.
Even among that tiny subset of people who define their own place
in the firmament (think Ralph Nader ’55 or Edmund Wilson ’16),
Fox’s ebullience and deep compassion could more than hold
its own. Princeton not only created a special position for him,
it invented a word, hence our (OK, sometimes a bit excessive) fixation
with Princetoniana. He was the irreplaceable Keeper of Princetoniana,
the first and last, and when he died in 1981 the University actually
changed the way it looked at its history; it had to.
Fortunately, efforts to extend his achievements were
already afoot. For one, the Mudd Manuscript Library had been opened,
and there was now a tangible home for the University’s archives
and historical goodies, instead of some steerage compartment in
Firestone. But beyond corporeal being, Princetoniana needed new
spirit, including the overwhelming joy Fox had brought to the task.
That’s where his classmate, Bud Wynne ’39 *40, enters
the story; welcome, Larry Doby.
Hugh de Neufville Wynne came from Montclair (N.J.)
High School – as did legendary Princeton volunteer Harold
Helm ’20 – and Choate, where Wynne hung with a lad from
Boston by the name of John F. Kennedy. Old Joe Kennedy wanted Jack
to go to Harvard, so he and his three close friends, including Wynne,
went to Princeton instead in 1935. While Kennedy got sick freshman
year and left, Wynne fell under the spell of geology and stayed
around, even for a postgrad year. He got to see Kennedy in the White
House cabinet room once – two months before his assassination.
Following decorated service in World War II and retired
from a globe-encircling career with Exxon in 1976, Wynne already
had his fingers into Annual Giving and other 1939 class affairs
when Fox sucked him into the Princetoniana whirl. By 1982, Wynne
led a small band of hearties including David Thompson ’39
and Robert Winters ’35 in creating the Princetoniana Room
in Firestone, with a prominent oil portrait of the late Fox and
his ubiquitous bicycle (now in Frist Campus Center) presiding over
it with a smile. They also formed the Princetoniana Committee and
got it anointed a standing committee of the Alumni Council. They
began tracking information and relics of Princeton history as varied
as student notebooks and statuary, patiently soliciting and culling
historic donations of Princetoniana from across the globe, with
Wynne’s big grin and nose for quality orange and black junk
in the fore.
Over the years, as the Princetoniana committee expanded
and incorporated younger, if less energetic, disciples, it found
and brought back the statues of the Tiger and the Princeton Student
now displayed in the lobby of Jadwin Gym. The Tiger is a duplicate
of the Palmer Square tiger of Charles Knight, and was retrieved
from the estate of the daughter of Edgar Palmer 1903 after her death.
The unearthing of the Student, an idealized image of Earl Dodge
1879 (as in Murray-Dodge) and commissioned by his brother, showed
off the committee’s monomaniacal tendencies; it had been banished
to sculptor Daniel Chester French’s Massachusetts estate in
the 1960s, then forgotten by the University until the group tracked
it down. The gilded lions donated by the Class of 1879 for Nassau
Hall, later replaced by its tigers, were discovered in storage,
refurbished, and placed on Goheen Walk. A series of historical booklets
on the University was begun, the first focusing on its gargoyles.
A masterful miniature metal copy of FitzRandolph
Gate was spotted in the trash by a sharp janitor who had heard of
Wynne’s fixation with Princeton memorabilia. Wynne restored
the piece – which came originally from the defunct Gateway
Club – himself, and donated it to the Archives, where it sits
proudly on the PAW card catalog in the entrance lobby of Mudd Library
today. He began an orderly catalog of all the undergrad class beer-jacket
designs, and succeeded in gathering many of the metal stencils used
to print them.
In his spare time (?!) Wynne became president of
the Class of 1939 for his last 23 years. He worked on the committee
to restore the great carillon of the Graduate College to its current
pristine condition. He was that rarest of volunteer alumni, recipient
of both the Harold Helm Award for groundbreaking work on Annual
Giving and the Alumni Council Award for Service to Princeton, which
noted “when Bud accepts a job, he does it thoroughly.”
They must have taken a look at the tigers and ’39 treasures
in his basement.
Wynne died last year on the Fourth of July; I’ll
miss him and I’ll miss the basement, too. It may be that,
in a place as full of crazed loyalists as Princeton, someone was
bound to pick up the mantle of Freddy Fox and champion the intricate
oddities of Princeton’s history, but Bud Wynne was the one
who did it, and inveigled many others to do it as well. Having every
reason to think it a thankless task, he grabbed it anyway and pursued
it with a flourish, and fortunately in the end he did receive Princeton’s
thanks for his job most well done. Just like the great Larry Doby.
Let’s have a locomotive for ’39.
Lange ’70 is a member of the Princetoniana Committee and the
Alumni Council Committee on Reunions, an Alumni Schools Committee
volunteer, and a trustee of WPRB radio.