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Jefferson B. Fletcher

Professor of Comparative Literature

Centurion, 1905–1946

Full Name Jefferson Butler Fletcher

Born 13 November 1865 in Chicago, Illinois

Died 17 August 1946 in York Village, Maine

Buried First Parish Cemetery, York Village, Maine

Proposed by Brander Matthews and Munroe Smith

Elected 7 October 1905 at age thirty-nine

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

Jefferson Butler Fletcher. [Born] 1865. Scholar and teacher.

He was an authority on the Renaissance as he was the embodiment of its finest ideals—of chivalry, courtesy, learning, and courage—tempered with a modesty that was all his own. If you look in Who’s Who you will find only a half-dozen lines. It says “A.B. Harvard, 1887.” It does not say that despite his small size he quarter-backed a Harvard football team when quarter-backing was taken as consent to mayhem. Who’s Who says “Lieutenant, A.E.F.” It does not tell of his citations won on the Marne at the age of fifty-three or of the half-pound fragment of a German shell imbedded in a copy of Peter Ibbetsen which Lieutenant Fletcher was reading in his dug-out. And of course Who’s Who could not say what his friends say, that, while shaving in the morning, he would do a cross-word puzzle, solve a chess problem or translate a dozen lines from Dante.

A story may be told in the privacy of our own House: Santayana, in Persons and Places, had written patronizingly of Fletcher, “He was a very good fellow, with a richer nature than most philologists, and firm morals.” A Centurion colleague, reading that, was indignant at the brush-off; and his comment was corrosive: “Jeff,” he said, “any day in the week had more on the ball than [Santayana] ever had.”

In the Century we take no back talk from anybody about our own.

Source: Henry Allen Moe Papers, Mss.B.M722. Reproduced by permission of American Philosophical Society Library & Museum, Philadelphia

Henry Allen Moe
Henry Allen Moe Papers, 1946 Memorials