Obituary of George Henry Warren
George Henry Warren of Paradise Avenue, Middletown, R.I., died peacefully on April 5, 2022, at home, surrounded by family. He was 101 years old.
He was born on June 17, 1920, in New York City, the son of George Henry Warren and Katherine Urquhart Warren of New York and Newport, R.I. His brother David Urquhart Warren predeceased him on January 17, 1999.
He married Mary Morton Haig on September 3, 1949, his wife of 49 years, who died on December 12, 1998. They enjoyed a wonderful life together and brought up three sons—George, Quentin and Peter—who went on to provide them with a loving entourage of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He graduated from Brooks School in North Andover, Mass., in 1939. Following that he went to Harvard College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943.
With the onset of World War II, George learned the art of celestial navigation and during the war he applied the skill as navigator aboard the Pan Am Boeing 314 Atlantic Clipper, the legendary flying boat pressed into U.S. Military service by the U.S. Navy to carry personnel and equipment across the Atlantic to the European front. Vital to the utility and success of the Clipper in its wartime capacity was the proficiency of its civilian Pan Am flight crews, who were particularly adept at long-distance, over-water flight operations and navigation.
It was a formative experience in which George, looking out nightly from the aircraft’s solitary observation dome, became enchanted by the celestial sphere and learned the identifications of more than 50 stars, planets and interstellar lights in his role as a flying navigator. He retained his familiarity with the night sky throughout his long life, able to distinguish constellations at will on clear evenings with a practiced eye to the heavens.
Following wartime service, he pursued a career in architecture. He spent a year at Columbia School of Architecture in New York City. Returning to his Harvard roots, he went back to Cambridge to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he received dual degrees including a Bachelor of Science (SB) and Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) in 1953. His professional calling from then on was design.
In New York City he worked for a variety of noteworthy architectural firms including Alfred Easton Poor, Philip Johnson, and later McKim, Mead & White. He followed those jobs with a position at Sherwood, Mills & Smith in Stamford, Conn., before pursuing private practice.
Among his significant contributions to Newport were his years of participation in the Preservation Society of Newport County, founded by his mother Katherine Warren in 1945. He served as Trustee from 1977 to 1995, then became an Honorary Trustee. His crowning achievement at the Preservation Society was spearheading the acquisition and renovation of the McKim, Mead & White-designed Isaac Bell House in 1994. In 2005 he received a PS Laurel Award for Volunteerism. In 2019 he received the Preservation Society’s Antiquarian Award for his long life of service to the organization.
The PSNC Annual Report for 2018-19 described him in the following tribute: “A Harvard man, architect by profession, unabashed champion of historic preservation and lifelong admirer of Newport and Aquidneck Island, George served 18 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Preservation Society of Newport County. He served as a Trustee, vice-chair of the Board, member of the Executive, Planning and Curatorial committees, and Chairman of the Architectural and Properties committees.”
Two of George’s philanthropic pursuits locally were the Newport Hospital and Middletown’s Norman Bird Sanctuary. His affection for the Bird Sanctuary was deepened by the location of the house he designed in 1977 and lived in for the duration of his life, a magical spot adored and frequented by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on a swath of land off Paradise Avenue looking south and east over Second Beach and the Sanctuary itself.
His greatest love was for his family, a priority rooted in his nature and instilled in those he leaves behind. He is survived by his three sons, George, Quentin and Peter; his daughters-in-law, Louise, Suzanne and Harriette; seven grandchildren including Sabina Katherine Warren (Schilling), Ryan Urquhart Warren (Mancini), George Henry Warren, Annie Fay Warren, Peter Milliken Warren, Annabel Whitney Warren, and Olivia (Livie) Urquhart Warren; and three great-grandchildren, Nora Whitney Warren, George Henry Warren, and Hollie Winn Warren.
The burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at St. Columba’s Chapel on Vaucluse Avenue in Middletown, R.I., on Wednesday April 20, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Preservation Society of Newport County.
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