Amherst Magazine

Jean D. Fourre '50


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In Memory

Jean Dominique Fourre was born in Paris on May 11, 1930. He came to Amherst in 1948 and graduated with us in 1950. He earned a master of arts degree from Clark Univ., awarded in 1951. In 1954 and 1958 he earned degrees from the Univ. of Paris. He also attended the Ecole Nationale d’ Administration. In 1959, he married Helene Tanco-Calcic, and they had three children—Anne, Jean-Marc and Isabelle. Jean’s position for many years was Conseiller d’Etat. In France, the Conseiller d’Etat (Council of State) is an organ of the French national government. Its functions include assisting the executive with legal advice and being the supreme court for administrative justice. Its members are (for the most part) high level jurists.

Ray Vigneault has been in contact with Jean’s daughter, Isabelle Fourre Virol, who sent to him, in French, the following:

“Excerpt from the eulogy at Jean’s funeral Mass on May 16, 2008, by an ex-minister in the French government, Mr. Le Pors, also Conseiller d’Etat and close friend of the deceased: ‘It is sad to leave Jean Fourre and it is sad that he has left us; yet, remembering Jean doesn’t lead us to sorrow. For the few who have had the chance to be with him on special occasions and who have had long conversations, which he so enjoyed, it is easy to understand this apparent contradiction. For Jean was not only a great public servant for our nation, but also a man of great culture, multifaceted experience and delicate sensibilities. Now and then he was asked which countries he had not visited, since he was so knowledgeable about the details of sites, history, customs, unusual practices and exotic culinary specialties. Although of a reserved nature and modestly introverted, once he began to speak he did not yield the floor easily, not because of rudeness, but because he was so interesting and humorous, and he had mastered the art of charming retorts and comebacks which disarmed a would-be interruption. To his family who are grieving today I can say that they had the opportunity of sharing lives with a man highly esteemed by his colleagues and friends, whose presence here today bears eloquent testimony to their affection.’”

John Esty adds something to the Fourre story: Guy Levy-Despas was a student at Amherst when France fell in 1940. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was shot down. His father, Andre, was the wealthy founder of a hugely successful French chain of department stores, at least some of which were in North Africa. Andre and Jacqueline Levy-DesPas funded an Amherst scholarship in Guy’s name, and Jean Fourre came to Amherst in 1948 as a beneficiary of this generosity. When John returned to the College after the USAF in 1953 and married Katharine in 1955, he learned that once a year Mme. Jacqueline Levy-Despas made an annual trip to Amherst and stayed in the President’s house. John infers that she continued to make gifts to the College. The sculptor of the bust of Guy on a granite pedestal in back of Chi Phi, also given by the Levy-DesPas, was the eminent Jo Davidson and would have cost a great deal! Guy’s father never visited; he may have died. On one visit in the spring of 1955, learning that they would be in France that summer, she invited Kay and John to visit her in her summer home on the Riviera, near St. Tropez, which they did with great pleasure. She was a wonderful hostess and never, never let go of the memory of her son and his love for Amherst!

—Ray Vigneault ’50
—John Esty ’50
—Willie McCormick ’50

 

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