Many of Benjamin Franklin's greatest achievements occurred after his retirement from his professed career, printing, at the age of 46. Having built the capital he needed to devote his time and talents to specific interests, he reveled in the opportunity to pursue his scientific experiments, to serve as Governor of Pennsylvania, to work for the interests of the colonies in London, to craft the founding documents of a new nation, compromises amongst his fellow Americans and treaties amongst foreign nations. All this accomplished as he also dabbled with wine, music and friends, the rewards of a successful life.
This year's birthday celebration, which pays tribute to Dr. Franklin, explores the ways in which contemporary Americans are choosing to spend their retirement in ways which enhance local, national and global interests.
Photos by Shira Yudkoff
Mary Patterson McPherson (American Philosophical Association), Dr. John C. Pottage (GlaxoSmithKline), Donald U. Smith (Celebration chair), Kenneth C. Frazier (Merck & Co.), Benjamin Franklin (Ralph Archbold), John C. Bogle (founder of Vanguard), Benjamin Franklin Reinauer (Celebration founder), Dr. Vagelos (honoree), and Roy Goodman (American Philosophical Association).
A rousing Huzzah!
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The world of Franklin scholars has lost two of its leading members within the last few months: Dr. Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., who died on January 2 at the age of 94, and Dr. J.A. Leo Lemay who died on October 15. Dr. Bell or Whit as he was known to his colleagues and friends, taught history at Dickinson College from 1945-1954, but soon narrowed his interest when he began working with the American Philosophical Society and Yale University to begin a project to publish the papers of Benjamin Franklin. The project no doubt far exceeded the expectations of Dr. Bell and his colleagues; The Franklin Papers at Yale have just announced publication of volume 39. Dr. Bell continued his affiliation with APS, serving as librarian and later as the executive director from 1977 until he retired in 1983. He died on January 2. He has been a frequent guest at these luncheons and we will all miss him.
No doubt Whit Bell influenced Dr. J. A. Leo Lemay as well, another kindred Franklin spirit. Dr. Lemay, a long-time Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Professor of English at the University of Delaware. Dr. Lemay, who shared the same birthday as Benjamin Franklin, spent years researching Franklin and his achievements for a planned seven volume biography. Volumes 1 and 2 covering Franklin's life through 1748 and his retirement from printing have been received to great acclaim; scholars are eagerly awaiting volume 3 scheduled for publication later this month.
We will miss both of these gentlemen, their contributions to Franklin's legacy and to helping us understand the multiple facets of one of their and our American heroes.
Benjamin Franklin Reinauer, II, who provided the impetus for the formation of Celebration! of Benjamin Franklin, Founder, died on January 21, 2009 at the age of 92. President of the Old Guard Alumni at the University of Pennsylvania, Reinauer decried the lack of a public celebration of Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. In typical Reinauer fashion, he enlisted the support of fellow alumni and began calling on heads of Franklin founded organizations to form a collaborative partnership to annually celebrate different facets of Franklin’s extensive legacy.
Themes ranged from freedom of the press to the most recent: achievements after retirement, and individuals at the summit of their professions came to offer their thoughts on achievements attained and goals yet to be reached. Franklin Reinauer continued to play an active role in this young organization, meeting with potential recipients of the Franklin founder award, maintaining an extensive correspondence both by email and regular mail and faithfully attending meetings despite a three hour drive each way until this past year when he would attend via conference calls. Just one week prior to his death he presented the 11th Franklin Founder Bowl to P. Roy Vagelos, M.D. He commented to his family on the return home that “It was a good day.” It was and it will continue a testimony to the legacy not only of Benjamin Franklin but to his namesake, Benjamin Franklin Reinauer, II.
For more details on Franklin Reinauer’s rich and rewarding life beyond the Celebration! of Benjamin Franklin, Founder his obituary in the Star Ledger provided an extensive overview: Click here