John Hennessey Jr.Ex-Dartmouth dean, married to Kunin, dies at 92

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SHELBURNE — As John W. Hennessey Jr. approached his 80th birthday in 2005, he could boast to a full life, be it professionally as former dean of Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business or personally as a husband and father who traveled with his grandchildren to all 50 states.

Little did the longtime New Hampshire resident anticipate one last sweet chapter in Vermont.

Hennessey was grieving the 2004 death of his wife of 55 years, Jean Lande Hennessey, when he met with former Gov. Madeleine Kunin to discuss his work on the board of the nonpartisan nonprofit Americans for Campaign Reform. After, Kunin offered him a spare ticket to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.

Together, they listened to Beethoven's Ninth — leading to nearly a dozen years as a married couple until his death Jan. 11 at Shelburne's Wake Robin Continuing Care Retirement Community at age 92.

Born March 25, 1925, in Pennsylvania, Hennessey attended local public schools before his admission to Princeton University at age 16. Two years later, in 1943, he postponed his education to enroll in officer training school during World War II, reaching the rank of Army first lieutenant in charge of more than 200 men in the Philippines Ordinance Department by age 21.

Hennessey returned to Princeton in 1946 and, after penning a senior thesis on the concept of universal health care, graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in economics and social institutions in 1948.

That same year, Hennessey married the former Jean Marie Lande before earning a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the University of Washington.

Hennessey won appointment at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business as a professor in 1957 and dean in 1968 — the latter, he stipulated, under the condition he be able to continue to teach as well as admit women to the then male-only institution.

Hennessey went on to become founding chair of the Council on Opportunity in Graduate Management Education, established to increase the flow of minority students into selective MBA programs, and co-founder of the Dartmouth Ethics Institute, which now features 150 staffers working on business, engineering, legal and medical topics.

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Hennessey turned his attention to the Green Mountain State when he was named provost at the University of Vermont in 1986 and its interim president from 1989 to 1990.

He has served the region on more than 30 nonprofit and corporate boards, including those of UVM, Vermont Law School and New Hampshire's Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where he was instrumental in its 1991 move from Hanover to a $228 million, 225-acre campus in nearby Lebanon.

Hennessey also served as chair of the boards of the Educational Testing Service, Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance and Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation.

But his biggest national headline came in 2006, when the New York Times reported on his wedding to Kunin, the first and so far only female governor of Vermont, from 1985 to 1991, as well as federal deputy secretary of education from 1993 to 1996 and ambassador to Switzerland from 1996 to 1999.

"Without expecting it, without looking for it, we fell in love," Kunin told writer Marialisa Calta before a private ceremony performed by Vermont Supreme Court associate justice John Dooley. "And now we begin an exciting new chapter."

Seconded Hennessey: "It's a wonderful surprise."

Hennessey is survived by Kunin, a son, John W. Hennessey, III, of Weston, Mass., and a daughter, Martha S. Hennessey, of Hanover, N.H., three grandchildren, five great grandchildren; four step-children and six step-grandchildren.

He will be celebrated at a public "circle of remembrance" Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. at Wake Robin in Shelburne, as well as at a Hanover, N.H., service to be announced at a later date. Memorial donations can be made to Patient Choices Vermont, P.O. Box 671, Shelburne, VT 05482 or Common Cause, 805 15th Street NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20005.

Kevin O'Connor is a Reformer and VTDigger.org correspondent who can be contacted at kevinoconnorvt@gmail.com.


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