A celebrated painter, longtime Chair of the Art Department, and beloved teacher, he influenced generations of students with his love of art, architecture and art history
Recalled as "a modern-day Renaissance man," "genuinely inquisitive" and "kind and generous," Richard Grosvenor devoted his life to the school from 1953-1993. He died on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, and a memorial service will be held in the St. George's Chapel on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, at 2 p.m. Read more about Mr. Grosvenor here. If you have a memory or tribute you would like to share with us, we would be grateful if you would share it with us on this page.
Appreciation and Memories
"It seemed as though Mr. Grosvenor greeted us daily with genuine enthusiasm, warmth and dignity. He was that rare educator who made us want to do our best, so convincing was his confidence in us and so sincere his love for his subjects. He passed on lasting love of art to many St. George's students. For many, including myself, art became integral to our professional and personal lives. Some 40 years after his tough yearlong architecture class I still smile at inspiring buildings because he showed us how to understand them. Many continue to paint happily in our free time, following Mr. Grosvenor's joyous way. How lovely it was to see the Grosvenors ballroom dancing in the dining hall. He set the bar very high, and gently.
—Abby Ehrlich ’76
"Mr. Grosvenor was a wonderful teacher and inspiration to me and I have been painting watercolors ever since. During his watercolor classes when we went off in a van and did plein-air painting were some of my best days. His memory will be with me always."
—Holly (Harder) Catlin ’79
"A wonderfully kind man (to a not-always-respectful and kind student). I remember in particular a drawing for the school Christmas card one year - a giant holly wreath hung over one of the spires of the chapel - for which he gently convinced me to add detail and make it more realistic than cartoonish, producing a much better (and funnier) result. I have a Dick Grosvenor landscape of the school hanging in my house today, a graduation gift from my parents."
—Matthew Young ’68
"Incredible man! My teacher, coach, and friend. As a mentor, his influence has been a part of my life beginning at St. George's. God Bless this wonderful man!
—Tom Winslow ’59
"That picture of Mr. Grosvenor in the quad under the sea of aluminium cans sparked some very fond memories for me as it was our senior year architecture project that he was helping finish. Mr. Grosvenor was a fabulously talented artist, an inspiring teacher and an wonderful man. I used to love hearing about his glider adventures - he had such enthusiasm for it. Gob bless Mr. Grosvenor - you were one of a kind and will be missed tremendously by everyone who had the privilege of calling you a mentor and a friend."
—E. Stanton McLean ’90
"I was only at St. George’s for my third- and fourth-form years, but I was fortunate to have art classes with Mr. Grosvenor for both of those years – and I went on to make my career in creative arts – photography, sculpture, woodworking, metalworking, web development, etc. I was anything but an academic, which accounted for my brief tenure at St. George’s. Mr. Grosvenor and his family were most welcoming to me. Even though he knew of the frustrations concerning me that ultimately led to my untimely departure from St. George’s, he was encouraging of those budding talents that he saw in me and patiently compassionate with my many faults. The memory of all this helped me through some dark times then and ever since. I have always remembered Mr. Grosvenor and his family with great fondness."
"I am certain that during the 15 years I spent teaching art — nine of them at St. George's — no other colleague was more deeply adored by his or her students. May your spirit soar among those great big clouds you so often captured."
—Mark Bistline, former chair of the Art Department
"Looking at his dates, it is hard to believe that he was only 11 years my senior, thus in his 20s when I was at SG in the late ‘50s. I remember Dick and Margot very fondly. They were the dorm nannies when I lived at Pine Croft. I babysat their children occasionally and wrestled not very well on his team. They were a solid, loving family, and just being in their orbit helped to define what it meant to be a decent human being."
—David Smith ’57
"I was a student in Dick Grosvenor's architecture class and, many years before that, his wife Margot taught me in nursery school. Mr. Grosvenor was a gifted artist and teacher who was always on the go, and his unfailingly friendly manner was matched by his great enthusiasm for learning by doing. His class projects were engaging and fun, whether we were building highly detailed scale models of colonial homes or toothpick-and-thread suspension bridges that could miraculously support the great weight of the course textbook. Mr. Grosvenor was a true Newport legend who guided and inspired generations of St. George's students; he will be missed."
—John Barry ’77
"I think Art II was designed to help me graduate although there were two talented juniors (and a not so talented) me in our three person class. We used to draw in Mrs. Auchincloss's lighthouse on Aquidneck Farm (think those details are correct) and Mr. Grosvenor mentioned in a completely offhand way that he had once dated Jacqueline Bouvier. You could have knocked us (Tim Schmidt and Seth Peyton, I think) over with a feather. But he was a man of many facets and none of them dazzled him, but each one captivated us. It was always a blast to hop into his microbus and go to Boston, Fall River, RISD or wherever. He kept me interested in being at SG and, possibly, SG interested in me. I owe him a great deal, but then I think I hardly qualify as one of those facets, not that he was ever ungracious, it was just the way he lived his life. Always helping where he could."
—Clinton Howell ’67
"Mr. Grosvenor was one of the most unexpected yet inspiring teachers I had at SG. He nurtured a very unexpected talent and love for the arts in me that will last a lifetime!"
—Rob Davidson ’91
"In the fall of 1963, I was new, in the Second Form, and trying to understand what was going on and how to fit in. We all were, those of us on the second floor of Auchincloss. Mr. Grosvenor and the art studio were just above on the third floor. I remember ascending into his magical world where he always greeted each and every one of us with a wonderful smile and genuine warmth, things that were not in great supply in those days. There in the room were the architectural models built by his older students, carefully and painstakingly created under his incredibly patient instruction. They were, as I remember, based upon buildings that Mr. Grosvenor took his students to visit. In fact, Mr. Grosvenor was the only teacher that I remember who had students do any kind of fieldwork. In my years we would explore the wonderful secrets of Newport. Alas I was not a talented artist, not even with the the potential to be a mediocre artist, but of all the classes I took at St. George’s, Mr. Grosvenor’s classes were the ones I enjoyed the most. It is because of him, his teaching and his infectious excitement in the arts that I went on to have a career in them.
"But what I remember most is a Saturday in late fall of that first year, when the whole school loaded onto the buses to go to the Middlesex game to cheer on our teams. Somehow I missed this excitement and I was left standing alone watching the entre school exit the main gate. It was then that Mr. and Mrs. Grosvenor pulled up with their children in their Volkswagen and he announced to me that they were taking me to Middlesex. I climbed in and away we went, no questions about why I had stayed behind, rather they made feel like another member of the family. And before we left the Island we pulled into a place the likes of which I had never seen before. It was the island’s, and perhaps Rhode Island’s, first and still very new McDonald’s hamburger drive in. As one of a happy VW crew, I was asked what I wanted and was soon presented with a paper wrapped cheeseburger and fries. It truly was a happy meal and way before there were Happy Meals. Happy not because of anything McDonald’s had done, although it did taste good, but so extraordinarily happy to be able to share the great and natural kindness of Mr. Grosvenor and his family."
—Tom Cummins ’68
"Mr. Grosvenor embraced each day with such enthusiasm that he gave an impression that each day, each class, each greeting was a first. What a gift to those around him and great way to live."
—Sisi Gallagher ’82
"Thank you, Dick Grosvenor, for a lifetime of friendship and the most important spiritual tutorship in art -- from oils, to water colors to architecture. Wow - I and so many countless others are the beneficiaries of your patient and passion-filled counsel about the wonders of creative expression! I learned so much about the wonders of light and color on the oil board or water color paper. Painting by the sea is ALL about light. Dick mastered that with ease and taught us what joy that could bring no matter what your level of talent. That's what he loved about teaching. Forever grateful. Thank you, Dick Grosvenor !!"
—Welles Orr ’78
"I hardly know how to begin to tell you of my great sorrow at hearing of Richard's death, Aug. 30. I use his full name out of complete respect for this incredible human being, who came into my life at a most critical time in 1953.
"In 1952 my father gave me an opportunity to attend St. Georges' or enroll in the local high school; after Lawrenceville Kicked me out for being a poor student. I fortunately chose to go to St. Georges' , when he became my art teacher and wrestling coach. He knew little about westling, though he was a brilliant artist. The school put out a desperate plea for someone to take the position of wrestling coach, and Dick "Mr. Grosvenor" accepted the position and did a masterful job with it.
"My happiest days at school were spent in his art classes, attempting to absorb the importance of line, form, color and perspective. All of that created the greatest satisfaction, once I began to put it together meaningfully, just as he did in all the beautiful creations he produced over his lifetime. He was a Master at testing new parameters, not just in drawings and paintings, but at every thing else that sparked his interest. He tested Life's parameters; on the water, in the air, and in the very basics of human sport.
"There were three or four of us on the wrestling team who owned coaching books , which we showed "coach", and he shaped a program during first winter of 1954 that catapulted us to third or fourth place in the New England Interscholastic Championships. Incredible. we were nobody anyone ever heard of.
"I have been a pilot for over 50 years, and an airplane owner for thirty-five years, but I never ever dreamed of building and then flying my own airplane. Most of us never appreciate the intellectual level that is required, what with the engineering, aero dynamics, and building skills, and the knowledge to safely fly the end product.
"Historical dates, rock formation, mathematical formulas, dangling participles, microbes, foreign languages, etc., were all prerequisites for a degree, but nothing took place of Mr. Grosvenor's art classes. There I formed and learned skills that I have carried throughout my life.
"What I have never forgotten was his infectious enthusiasm for whatever was before him; be helping a student completing one of his paintings, convincing one of his wrestlers that "he could do it", or succeeding at whatever challenge lay before him.
"Of all the masters at St. George's 'Mr. Grosvenor' was the best for me. He was always cheerful, a lover of beauty, and a gentleman in every sense of the word. The earth is a better place because he was here, and I am a better person for having known him."
—Clem Newbold ’55
"Richard Grosvenor was unconcerned with the petty and trivial. During a time when too many of the other "masters" were hounding you about the length of you hair, Dick was more interested in cocking his head, looking at your painting and helping you to do better that which you were trying to do.
"What I mean to say is, he did not try to impose his vision upon you, rather his interest was in helping you sharpen yours.
And he was unfailing kind and generous of his time and spirit. I loved entering the art studio on the third floor of Auchincloss, the smell of terps, the art books strewn across the tables...Mr. Grosvenor wielding his palette knife. It both inspirational and a comfort that he was right there, working alongside us."
—Charles Pinning ’70
"I have an original Hilltop watercolor (1991) in my study. I look at it every day. What a wonderful man and friend he was to us all."
—Frederick Allen ’56
"My first academic inspiration, Mr. Grosvenor's spirited teaching made it clear that the fine arts could be front and center in an education and a career path. I will miss him greatly."
—Alison Bantz Akers ’88
"With unflappable good cheer, humility, and wit, Dick taught me how to paint landscapes while I was his student, and later, when I was his colleague, how to be a better teacher and a better person. My favorite memory is of the two weeks that he, Margo, and I spent on Geronimo (with the Connetts) during a March vacation faculty cruise in the Bahamas in 1992. Dick kept us all in stitches as we sailed the open seas and tagged sharks and wrestled with sea turtles, all captured beautifully in an surprisingly unusual and amusing watercolor by this remarkably talented man. Indeed, Dick possessed an extraordinary "joie de vivre" that was contagious. It was a privilege to have been a friend of such a warmhearted, optimistic, and talented individual."
—Tommy Lamont ’79
"One year we built a huge geodesic dome and then a gigantic scale model of the Eiffel Tower! With Mr. Grosvenor inspiring and coaxing us, we learned that a bunch of goofballs with a crazy vision, working diligently and cooperatively, could achieve anything."
—Andy Griscom ’78
"Visits with Margot and Dick Grosvenor were not only enjoyable, they were creative, instructive and unique. For example: one day at the Middletown airport, Dick invited me to ground taxi his home-built, single-engine, single-seat, experimental aircraft. ( Wheels remained earthbound.)"
—Fred Stetson ’61
"Mr. Grosvenor was one of my favorite personalities at SG. My home growing up was adorned with his oils and watercolors. I think of him everyday as I wake up to one of his beautiful watercolors of SG from Second Beach. A true gem who will be missed."
—John Pedorella ’82
"Richard Grosvenor was a wonderful human being and a motivating and inspiring teacher. He encouraged the sudies of art not just as a means to an end but as a worthy discipline and practice. As an early female boarding student (1973-1976) I felt blessed to have been around Mr. Grosvenor and absorb some of his incredible enthusiasm, creative talent and generousity of spirit. His paintings were absolutely wonderful!"
—Katie Pratt ’76
"I arrived at SG nervous about leaving home, and Mr. Grosvenor immediately put me at ease with his genuine kindness and self-effacing humor. His art history class was a favorite, as were trips to see art exhibits with that essential stop for donuts on the way back to school. I'll never forget his absolute kindness at a time in my life when I felt especially vulnerable. Much love to his family."
—Rachel Moorhead ’92
"What a fabulous teacher, artist, and human being. I was lucky enough to take Dick's architecture class, and still today carry many indelible images from that experience: hours spent looking at slides and building with foam board on the third floor of Auch, his fascination with "Bucky Balls," erecting a cereal box bridge in the Quad, racing around Newport in a van looking for McKim, Meade & White shingle houses...and there were always the paintings he was working on in the background while we were busy on our houses. I vividly remember a conversation we had about how he used those bold geometric curves in his work to convey planes of light and depth. When I got married 10 years later, my wife called up Dick and asked if he would be willing to do a painting for me of Nantucket harbor as a present. Not only did he do this, but true to form he found a friend with a helicopter and made it an adventure, flying over to the island so he could get some good images and have some fun. That's the way I remember him - his excitement from seeing the beauty in the world, creating great beauty with his own work, and helping the rest of us to develop an eye for this and to pursue it on our own. I kept in touch with Dick occasionally over the years, and he was always interested in what I was up to, working on his latest project, and excited about his family and their endeavors in the arts and architecture. I will miss him, and will work to live up to his challenge to find the beauty in the world every day."
—Bill Holding ’82
"As I read this, Mr. Grosvenor’s watercolor of the school on the Hilltop from the perspective of Third Beach sits above my left shoulder. It was a generous gift from the school commemorating Prize Day 2004. The picture and the spirit with which it was painted have carried me through many a deadline night for our newspaper. I look at it often and consider it a good friend, and am saddened to have lost it’s creator who poured all of his admiration for the school into each brushstroke."
"He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. He made St. George's a better place, and his legacy will live on."
—Alicia Clark Van Arsdall
"Over the many years since I graduated I often returned to SG for games, ABOV meetings etc. Never did I not see and talk with Mr Grosvenor. I'm not sure what year it was but I was in his class - Shop. We have, over the years, laughed about my report card and the note he sent to my parents. 'Bill's interest is certainly not in shop.' He was dead on. To this day I am helpless with a hammer or a screw driver. He was the best - will be missed."
—Bill Batchelder ’61
"Some of my most relaxing and memorable times at SG were going on painting trips with Mr. Grosvenor in his VW van to sketch and paint wonderful scenes in and around Newport. He was a great person and a great artist."
—Anthony Brady ’75
"One day we all waited for our Architecture class to begin but alas no Mr. Grosvenor. After about 20 minutes he came hustling in and apologized for the delay, explaining that he was late because he had crashed his homemade plane on landing. What I take with me to this day was that he was not shaken by the incident. To him, it was just another interesting life experience."
—Tom Erskine ’84
"A great and kind man has left our midst."
"Mr. Grosvenor was a wonderful teacher and a gentle guide. A joyful man who showed us freedom and pathways I didn't know. A really bright light in some cold, damp weather. Love and condolences to his family."
—Hunt Block ’72
"Richard was one of those teachers you never forget and wish all were like. I was in his architecture class and still use the things I learned from him all the time running a commercial real estate company. What a great guy he was."
—Wing Biddle ’79
"Thank you, Mr. Grosvenor, for all you kindness and support during my four years at SG. Rest in Peace!"
—Catherine Anne Lambert ’76
"The neatest of neat guys. As fitting a representative of the greatest generation there ever was."
—Steve Bakios, DDS, Former Parents Committee Chair, P’05, P’07
"Mr. Grosvenor was my advisor and one of my favorite SG people.
He was extremely creative, fearless, and always brought a sense of fun and creativity to any project.
He taught me to dare greatly, to dream big and to think well outside the box.
His architecture course was an inspiration and a great opportunity to be creative at SG, when most things we did were predictable and had been prescribed for us.
He built his own catamaran and his own home in Newport even using some old doors from SG that he had refurbished. There was talk that he might try to build an airplane, which terrified us because his projects sometimes required several iterations... He was never discouraged by setbacks on any of his projects and always saw them as chances to learn and grow.
Some folks saw him as a bit flaky and naive, but I believe he just had greater joy and enthusiasm for life and was willing to try new things that others thought were crazy. I don't think I ever saw him get angry and I always envied his sense of fun and adventure. He was one of the kindest, sweetest people I ever met. One could not help but love him! I'll miss him and never forget him."
—Dixon Kuhn ’66
"What a true gentleman. What a fine person.
In my five years at St. George's , I never saw anything but a smile on his face.
Godspeed to an extremely talented man of great humility , warmth and good Christian values."
—M. Taylor Pyne ’69
"Richard Grovesnor was a kind, interested, interesting man. Self effacing to a fault, but never without a twinkle in his eye. I wish America had more like him but they are difficult to make."
He painted the most wonderful clouds, he was calm and always had a kind word, and a kind tolerance for "extensions."
He engineered one of the only architecture courses in prep schools inspired many future architects, as well as teaching many dilettantes, like myself.
—Pascal Monteiro de Barros ’82
"I was powerfully influenced by Mr. Grosvenor. He taught me drawing, painting, architecture, and art history. Also, he coached me for five years for varsity wrestling. These Harvard graduates were amazingly multifaceted."
—Thomas S. Hackett ’66
"Fifty two years ago I took Architecture from Dick Grosvenor. I love the subject to this day and remember our project ( with Charlie Rice '66) which led to the design of the faculty housing behind the science building. He was a gifted teacher and a wonderful human being."
—Howard Dean ’66
"I have very fond memories of being driven around Newport to the many hidden architectural treasures that Mr. Grosvenor knew so well. His tours usually included a stop in Dunkin Donuts for a much anticipated treat for each of us. He was patient and generous with his talents and knowledge. I will continue to remember him fondly."
—Shannon Leary Morton ’93
A true Renaissance man who feared nothing and was blessed with a wonderful sense of humor. His Architecture class was an inspired maelstrom of history, design, stream of consciousness, last-minute paintings, and Dunkin Donuts-fueled field trips through Newport's historic neighborhoods. Aquidneck Island will be a lot less fun without him around.
—Kevin O'Leary ’86
"My great pleasure to have been a student of Mr. Grosvenor ... He taught me much about myself, how to observe and how to record those observations in painting and in architecture. One of my lifelong memories was helping him build the house. It meant much, and I treasure the practical information gained in that project. He was a mentor; a superb instructor and a friend of all students with whom he had contact. An affable man, it was hard to ruffle his calm...but once you did, you knew it. I treasure the memory of my acquaintance with this incredibly talented man."
—Larrence Perry ’72
"Boy was I glad this guy was around, when I was a student at SG. His smile, cheer, support and enthusiasm helped me get through some difficult times...I'll miss you Mr. Grosvenor.
—Bill Buell ’70
I really enjoyed being the manager of his spring track team for two years since I was only able to clear three feet on the high jump. He was a delight to be around.
And since I was not an artist, I still enoy two of his prints of SG, which have been hanging on my wall since 1969 and 1970.
I always enjoyed our meetings at various alumni functions over the years. He always knew my name and made me feel welcome. I will miss seeing him on the Hilltop after so many years.
—T. Christopher Jenkins ’61
"One of the all time GREATS. A truly wonderful, intelligent, funny and loving human being of the highest magnitude!!!!"
—Jerry Pullins ’93
"Dick was not only a great artist but a true gentleman as well."
— Richard Verney ’64, trustee
"Dick really was an amazing, modern-day Renaissance man. He stimulated countless SG students to appreciate all aspects of art, architecture and design during his 40 years on The Hilltop."
—Francis “Skip” Branin ’65, trustee
"I spent a long time being part of the arts community of Spring Bull Gallery along with my former husband, as artists that showed hand blown glass art. As the youngest members of that community, Dick was always supportive and encouraging to us as artists. When our daughter, Raleigh (SG'13) was little, she played the "gift elf" at every Spring Bull Christmas party many of those parties were at his and Margot’s home. He actually was one of the references I used when applying as SG Gardener. He was wonderful to all the communities he served, to SG, Newport, and to all artists. He had a heart of gold, and a beautiful brush stroke."
—Lori Silvia, SG Gardener
"I had the great fortune to know Dick Grosvenor when I was a faculty child, a student and then later as his colleague. In all aspects of life he was known as a very kind and generous man. His endless enthusiasm for art, architecture, and art history was contagious and his influence on St. George's students seemed limitless.
"He had the ability to get people involved in all sorts of collaborative projects that never could have happened without his vision and knowledge. Giant Eiffel Towers and huge bridges made out of coke cans were made possible when Dick inspired his students. For years, students would plan years in advance to take the famous architecture course that involved making a scale model of one of the colonial houses in Newport. Driving into Newport with Dick would become a fascinating guided tour that revealed his love for just about every aspect of the town.
"Always dedicated to his craft, his unique style of painting has become instantly recognizable and synonymous with Newport. Dick's paintings, drawings, and prints will continue to remind us of his special skills. I, among many others, will always remember his humble, kind, and genuinely inquisitive approach to life.
"Dick's 40 years of dedicated service went very far in establishing the importance of the arts as part of the SG experience. A large canvas he painted in the '80s hangs in the visual art office where it will continue to inspire those of us who carry the torch he passed. It seems very fitting that we do this in a building that bears his name. "
—Mike Hansel ’76, Chair of the Art Department
"Besides Dick’s artistic talents, I always found him to be a friendly, gracious, happy and inclusive man. I feel honored to have known him."
—Carol Hamblet, faculty emeritus