Obituary : Francis B. Sayre Jr.
The Very Reverend Francis B. Sayre, Jr., died Friday, October 3, 2008 at his home in Vineyard Haven. From 1951 to 1978, Rev. Sayre was Dean of Washington National Cathedral. During that time he spoke out against Sen. Joseph McCarthy, marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama, and led protests against the Vietnam War.
Francis B. Sayre Jr. was born in the White House in 1915 to Francis B. Sayre Sr. and President Woodrow Wilson's daughter Jessie Wilson Sayre. He was raised in Cambridge, France, and Thailand. After graduating from Williams College, Sayre attended Union Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Divinity School.
Before coming to Washington, Rev. Sayre served as Chaplain aboard the U.S.S. San Francisco during World War II, then as Industrial Chaplain for the Diocese of Ohio and as Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in East Cleveland, Ohio. As Dean of the National Cathedral, Rev. Sayre oversaw the iconography, funding, and construction of the Cathedral building, which had been begun in 1907 and was completed in 1990.
President Eisenhower appointed Rev. Sayre as U.S. liaison to the United Nations World Refugee Year, and President Kennedy named him to the first Equal Opportunity Commission. Rev. Sayre was also Chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Commission, a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Institute, and a Trustee of Howard University. He received honorary degrees from many colleges and universities including Lehigh University, Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland, Virginia Seminary, and Williams College.
Rev. Sayre and his wife Harriet Hart Sayre, who died in 2003, are survived by their daughters Jessie Sayre Maeck and Harriet Sayre-McCord, their sons Thomas Hart Sayre and Francis Nevin Sayre, by the spouses of their children, and by eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Grace Church on Saturday, Oct. 11, at 10 am.
A funeral service will be held at Washington Cathedral on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 1 pm., followed by internment in the Cathedral.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Washington National Cathedral, or to Grace Church, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.