Philanthropist Ted Stanley, namesake of the Living on Earth Studios, recently passed away. He was dedicated to supporting public radio and environmental causes, including cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Living on Earth’s Steve Curwood pays tribute to Ted Stanley.
YOUNG: If you are a regular listener to our program, you’ve probably noticed that our broadcasts come from the Jennifer and Ted Stanley studios here in Somerville, Massachusetts. And so,\ it is with sorrow that we have to report that Ted has died at the age of 85, after a long illness, and a long history of environmental and journalism philanthropy. Living on Earth’s Steve Curwood has this remembrance.
CURWOOD: I’d heard about Ted Stanley long before I met him – all those underwriting credits on NPR for many years, thanking Jennifer and Ted Stanley. But I wasn’t prepared for the unassuming yet highly curious man I first met on a hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire more than a decade ago. He was already slowing down a bit, but he was still eager to “change the world for the better,” says his widow Jenny.
As a young man he had seen the world in one of its worst moments. Even though he went to an elite private school and Princeton, Ted Stanley enlisted in World War Two as a private, the lowest rank.
Late in the war he wound up on the front lines at the Battle of the Bulge, a last ditch effort by the Germans to hold back the U.S. and Britain, and fought in bitter cold.
At one point he was wounded, not badly, but enough to head back to get bandaged up.
He was walking alone looking for the medics when he encountered a single German soldier.
Both men were armed; both men were at the edge of a bloody battlefield littered over time with thousands of casualties.
Both men looked at each other, kept their weapons lowered, and walked on without a word – or a shot being fired.
It seems that was the day Ted’s philosophy crystallized: no matter what the history, the anger, the fight, in the end we are all humans – a part of creation, each part due care and respect.
After the war Ted Stanley made a lot of money running Bowne & Company, a firm that prints stock certificates for Wall Street. An avid sailor, he retired to a home on the Chesapeake Bay in 1981. But he quickly learned that the Bay and the working community around it were in distress. The Chesapeake is our backyard, he told his wife.
He found a scientist, got directed to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as an environmental group that was taking action, and made his first large donation.
He also funded youth programs. Ted soon set up the Town Creek Foundation to formalize his gift giving, and many more donations would follow. Interest in public radio came from Jenny, and their combined interests led to support many ventures, including Living on Earth’s Jennifer and Ted Stanley studios.
But I think Ted Stanley’s greatest legacy was the embodiment of the philosophy he embraced that day in the war, and his commitment to try to end what at times seems like humanity’s war against nature.
Ted Stanley may be gone, but he’ll never be forgotten by so many of us.
[MUSIC: Jenny Scheinman “Awful Sad” from Crossing The Field (Koch Records 2009)]
YOUNG: Living on Earth’s Steve Curwood.
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