William Stevenson
8th President of Oberlin College
In office
1946 (1946)–1960 (1960)
Preceded byErnest Hatch Wilkins
Succeeded byRobert K. Carr
United States Ambassador to the Philippines
In office
February 5, 1962 – June 14, 1964
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byJohn D. Hickerson
Succeeded byWilliam McCormick Blair, Jr.
Personal details
William Edwards Stevenson

( 1900-10-25)October 25, 1900
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedApril 2, 1985(1985-04-02) (aged 84)
Fort Myers, Florida, U.S.
SpouseEleanor "Bumpie" Bumstead Stevenson
ChildrenHelen Stevenson Meyner, Priscilla
Alma materPrinceton University (undergraduate)
University of Oxford
Professiontrack and field athlete, lawyer, diplomat
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1924 Paris 4x400 m relay

William Edwards Stevenson (October 25, 1900 – April 2, 1985) was an American track and field athlete, lawyer and diplomat, who won the gold medal in the 4 × 400 metres relay at the 1924 Summer Olympics, and later served as the president of Oberlin College.[1]


Early life and education

Born in Chicago, Illinois, William Stevenson won the AAU championships in 440 yd (400 m) in 1921.

He was a graduate of Andover and Princeton University before winning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he studied law.

Legal career

After returning to United States, he was an assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York in the 1920s and, in 1931, founded the prominent New York law partnership of Debevoise, Stevenson, Plimpton and Page, now Debevoise & Plimpton L.L.P.[2]

1924 Summer Olympics

At the Paris Olympics, Stevenson ran the second leg on the American 4 × 400 meters relay team, which won the gold medal with a new world record of 3.16.0. His teammates were Commodore Cochran, Oliver MacDonald and Alan Helffrich.

World War II

During the World War II, Stevenson and his wife, Eleanor "Bumpie" Bumstead Stevenson, a 1923 graduate of Smith College, organized and administered American Red Cross operations in Great Britain, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Both he and his wife were awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in support of military operations.[2] (Eleanor Stevenson was the author of I Knew Your Soldier in 1946. She was active in the civil rights movement and the first person to give a nationally broadcast speech on behalf of Planned Parenthood.)[2]

President of Oberlin College

In 1946, Stevenson succeeded Ernest Hatch Wilkins as a president of Oberlin College. He held the post until 1960.[3]


In 1962 John F. Kennedy appointed him as an ambassador to Philippines, where he served until 1965. He then became the head of the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies in Colorado.[2]


Stevenson died in Fort Myers, Florida, aged 84.

Personal life

In 1937, Stevenson bought Buttonwood Manor in the North Stamford section of Stamford, Connecticut, an 1809 Colonial-style house. When Stevenson and his wife went to England during World War II, they rented the house to Dorothy Fields, a renowned lyricist, according to the columnist and war correspondent Ernie Pyle.[2]

He was the father of U.S. Representative Helen Stevenson Meyner, who served for two terms, from 1975 to 1979. She was the wife of two-term New Jersey Gov. Robert B. Meyner. His other daughter, Priscilla, married Richard Hunt, a Harvard professor and the university's marshal.[2] He was also a cousin of the Vice-President Adlai E. Stevenson, presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, Senator Adlai Stevenson III, and actor McLean Stevenson.

See also


  1. ^ "William Stevenson". Olympedia. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Nova, Susan, "Manor is rich with history: Offer has been accepted to buy 5,300-square-foot (490 m2) home", news article in the Real Estate section of The Advocate of Stamford (daily newspaper), Friday, April 20, 2007, pp R1, R4
  3. ^ "Presidents of Oberlin College". Oberlin College Archives. Retrieved October 21, 2013.