Thursday, July 11, 2013

* Rising above the Tsarnaev-tainted controversy, two leaders, the Dean of Yale Divinity School and the former Mayor of Hamden, agree to convey burial plots to suitable recipients.

The Hon. Craig Henrici, ESQ.

Gregory E.  Sterling, Dean, Yale Divinity School


Thornton Wilder, author and Hamden resident,
 now buried in
Mt. Carmel Burying Ground
Gregory E. Sterling, Dean
Yale Divinity School
Yale University

Dear Dean Sterling,

I like that idea very much.  Especially if you do it in memory of my mother. 

 It is a lovely little cemetery, and the plot is a hundred yards from creator of the most famous cemetery in American literature, the author of Our Town, Thornton Wilder.  I know, because I used to maintain that plot for his sister

 I have also had an  acceptance from the former Mayor of Hamden, The Hon. Craig Henrici, who just reminded me that I was his Sunday School teacher and so was my mother !

So like Solomon,  I am going to split the plots between you. One to you in memory of my mother and one to Craig in memory of my mother (there may even be a third remaining plot but I cannot recall.).  

Like everything I do, I will announce it on my blog. 

I am tremendously heartened  after four rejections that you and Craig have had the guts to associate yourselves with two pariahs, Mr. Tsarnaev and the Yale divinity grad who offered to bury him ! 

Many thanks,


Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.


The Hon. Craig Henrici, ESQ.
Harry B. Adams, Chaplain Emeritus. Yale University
The Rev. David House, Mt. Carmel Congregational Church
The Rev. Marion Visel, First Unitarian Society of New Haven
Mr. Curt Leng, Assistant to Mayor Jackson, Hamden
Ms. Judi Kozak, President, Hamden Legislative Council

On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 6:18 PM, Sterling, Greg wrote:
Dear Paul,

Thank you for your note and your very generous offer. I have done some checking to see if I could accept your offer. Technically, I cannot since property must go through the central office for approval. I could forward this to them and let them consider it, but I am guessing that they will stipulate that Yale have the right to sell the plots if it is given to Yale.

I have a counter proposal to make. What if I could identify an emeritus faculty member who is in need of a burial plot for himself and his spouse or herself and her spouse. Would you be willing to consider donating it to them? I have not asked anyone, but would be happy to speak with Harry Adams and solicit his help in finding someone if the idea has any appeal to you. It might be hard to find someone whose parent was a US veteran. If the person is a veteran, the US government will offer a burial plot for the veteran and the spouse (my father and mother are buried in such a cemetery; my father was in the Air Force during the Korean War). They might not be "needy" in the sense of destitute, but Yale faculty were not all that well paid in the past and someone might greatly appreciate it.

This is only an idea. I greatly appreciate your generosity and want to honor it. Does the idea have any appeal to you?


Greg Sterling

Gregory E. Sterling
The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean
The Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament
Yale Divinity School
409 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT  06511

From: Paul Keane
Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:50 PM
To: Greg Sterling 

Subject: Gift of Burial Plots in Mt. Carmel Burying Ground

Dear Dean Sterling,

 I would like to offer Yale Divinity School a gift in memory of my mother, Barbara W. Keane, of Mt. Carmel, who named me after Divinity School professor, Douglas Clyde Macintosh. 

The gift  is the remaining two plots in my family's cemetery holdings in Mt. Carmel Burying Ground, which I would ask  the recipient  to hold until a needy  family presents themselves, hopefully a family of a U. S. veteran.

I should think a student group at the Divinity School might take this on as a project.  It could last 20 years, until the right family appears and require no more than a willingness to keep an eye open for a suitable recipient(s).

You and  I originally discussed this gift  by phone ten weeks ago when i offered one of the plots to the Tsarnaev family  whose late son was an alleged Boston bombing suspect in need of a place of burial. 

It was not a happy phone call that day.

Perhaps you and I  could reverse that here.

Since then I have offered the gift of the remaining plots to four possible recipients, and it has been refused all four times.

It is  instructive that  in this time of economic recession one can't seem to  give a gift worth at least a thousand dollars away to 
·   the Mayor of Hamden
·   the President of Hamden's Legislative Council
·    the Mount Carmel Congregational Church
·    the First Unitarian Church of New Haven
all of whom / which have refused my offer.

Perhaps it has more to do with the publicity surrounding the giver than to the gift.

 I draw your attention to the following post and videos on my blog. Link  

As far as I can tell, acceptance of the gift would entail zero work on your part, merely keeping an eye out for needy recipients, preferably the families of U.S. veterans.

For me, the one vital component of the gift is that it be accepted in memory of my mother and that the recipient organization have some history in my mother's life.

I hope to hear that you have chosen not to become  the fifth recipient who flees the taint of this gift's origin.


Paul D. Keane,
M.Div. '80
M.A., M.Ed.

PS     I am forwarding a copy of this letter to the former Mayor of Hamden, my childhood friend, Craig Henrici, who has monitored all four of my previous offers and their refusals.  I am also forwarding a copy to Harry Adams, who has been my  mentor for almost forty years,  and to the four previous decliners of the gift.


Harry B. Adams, Chaplain Emeritus, Yale University
The Hon. Craig Henrici
Mr. Leng for Mayor Jackson
Ms. Kozak, President  Legislative Council
Rev. House
Rev. Visel

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