The Lady Soames, youngest daughter of Winston Churchill, offered the words of her father as inspiration for a post September 11 world during convocation ceremonies at Sewanee: The University of the South on Jan. 27. Soames was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Sewanee along with Nelle Harper Lee, author of “ To Kill a Mockingbird,” and RW Apple, associate editor at the New York Times. In her address, Soames reminded her listeners that in his last oration to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill offered a message for us all even now saying that “the day may dawn when fair play, love of one’s fellow men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth serene and triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, NEVER FLINCH, NEVER WEARY, NEVER DESPAIR.” “We know from quite recent events,” said Soames, “the horror of September 11, 2001, that the memory of Winston Churchill’s vision and courage and his stirring words still serve to inspire men and women’s resolve in hours of crisis or danger.” “He is not gone,” she said, “he lives wherever men are free, he lives in Sewanee…”
Below are biographies of each of the honorees:
- RW Apple Jr. For nearly 40 years, R. W. Apple Jr. has roamed the United States and the world, traveling close to a quarter of a million miles a year as an eyewitness to history during the most eventful periods in the modern era. A native of Akron, Ohio, Apple received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. He worked for NBC News and the Wall St. Journal before joining the New York Times in 1963. As associate editor for the New York Times, RW Apple Jr. has known and interviewed every President since Lyndon B. Johnson, plus senators, governors and world leaders on five continents. Few journalists of our time have seen as many great events; for that reason he is a sought-after commentator on television in the United States and abroad. He participates regularly in major international forums discussing diplomatic, economic and military questions. Apple is a recipient of the Overseas Press Club Award and the Lowell Thomas Award, among other recognitions.
- Nelle Harper Lee Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville Alabama,a city of about 7,000 people in Monroe County. Monroeville is in southwest Alabama, about halfway between Montgomery and Mobile. She is the youngest of four children of Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. Harper Lee attended Huntingdon College 1944-45, studied law at the University of Alabama 1945-49, and studied one year at Oxford University. In the 1950s she worked as a reservation clerk with Eastern Air Lines and BOAC in New York City. In order to concentrate on writing, Harper Lee gave up her position with the airline and moved into a cold-water apartment with makeshift furniture. Her father's sudden illness forced her to divide her time between New York and Monroeville, a practice she has continued. In 1957 Miss Lee submitted the manuscript of her novel to the J. B. Lippincott Company. For the next two and a half years she reworked the manuscript with the help of her editor, Tay Hohoff, and in 1960 “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published. In June of 1966, Harper Lee was one of two people named by President Johnson to the National Council of Arts.
- Lady Soames Lady Soames, born in 1922, is the youngest and only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill. During World War II she served in mixed antiaircraft batteries in England and northwestern Europe and accompanied her father as an aide on several wartime overseas journeys. In 1947 she married Captain Christopher Soames, later Lord Soames, the politician and diplomat, a vice president of the European Commission and the last governor of Southern Rhodesia. He died in 1987; they had five children. She is the author of “Clementine Churchill: The Biography of a Marriage,” which won the Wolfson Prize for history, “A Churchill Family Album,” “The Profligate Duke,” and “Winston Churchill: His Life as a Painter.” Shown above, the Lady Soames speaks to the Sewanee convocation. Below, RW Apple, Nelle Harper Lee and Joel Cunningham, Sewanee’s president, review pre-ceremonial preparations.