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Gaspard d'Andelot Belin

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Gaspard d'Andelot Belin

Vince: "….Dillon was out of the country on a crowded cabinet plane bound for Japan on 11/22/63 while Belin was back in Washington. While he denied being any relation to David Belin (of Warren Commission/ Rockefeller Commission fame), Gaspard Belin wrote "The General Counsel ranked next in the Treasury hierarchy. So I was often Acting [secretary] but never in any important matter." [emphasis added] 51 Gaspard Belin is indeed a fascinating character— he was married to Harriet Lowell Bundy, a member of the William and McGeorge Bundy family.52"



Harriet Lowell (Bundy) Belin came from a prominent Boston family whose members served in various Washington administrations. Her father, Harvey Hollister Bundy, a Boston lawyer, served twice in Washington, first as assistant secretary of state in the Hoover administration. A brother, McGeorge Bundy, was national security adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and another brother, William Bundy, was foreign policy adviser to them.

But Mrs. Belin never flaunted her prestigious family background, her private schools, and debutante balls, her family said. Though she came from ancestral Republicans, she became a staunch Democrat, she said in an oral history at Radcliffe College in 1990, after seeing how Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought the country back from the Great Depression.

"I don't think I became a Roosevelt fan until I got to Radcliffe," she said. "I had been a sheltered Republican in those years and didn't come face-to-face with issues until I got to Radcliffe in 1939." An economics class opened her eyes, she said.

"In the process," she said, arguments she articulated as the only Republican in the class "crumbled before the clear evidence that what Roosevelt had done was restore confidence in the United States . . . that the Democrats had more concern than the Republicans did, and more imagination."

Mrs. Belin, who left Radcliffe after a year and a half to marry, died Nov. 23 of Alzheimer's disease at Brookhaven at Lexington. She was 88 and lived in Cambridge for many years.

Although she had wanted to return to college to get her degree while raising a family, said her son, Richard, of Cambridge, Radcliffe's requirement that she take a full course load "thwarted those hopes." Her family came first, he said.

She often told her children, "Marriage is the greatest human institution," he said. She and Gaspard d'Andelot Belin, a managing partner at the Boston law firm of Choate, Hall & Stewart and former general counsel to the US Treasury, were married 61 years when he died in 2003.

Mrs. Belin was active beyond her home. In the 1960s and 1970s, she worked for the admissions office at Radcliffe, serving as acting dean of admissions from 1970-73.

In that role, she interviewed candidates, evaluated applications, visited schools to recruit students, and dealt with alumnae.

When she stopped working for Radcliffe, she did not sit home and "eat bonbons," she said in the interview. She kept busy as a volunteer and fund-raiser for Radcliffe and at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, serving charitable organizations and helping the Cambridge Hospice "set up a nonresident center," she said in 1990. For many years, she volunteered at the New England Aquarium, where she was a longtime trustee.

She also was a supporter of women's rights. "I think the status of women has been very much improved," she said in 1990. "It is ever so much easier now to have a career. I think this is even more important now because you can't just make raising two children a lifetime occupation."

Though Mrs. Belin had five children, her son said, she always urged them "not to have more than two. When we began having children, they got the same treatment we had," he said.

"Never make an old lady do your chores," she would advise. "Don't major in math - you'll have nothing to talk about at dinner parties. Stand up straight - chin up, butt under, chest out. Don't have five children - it is too many and irresponsible!"

One of his mother's "many gifts," he said, was "the gift of friendship. She was interested in people and cared greatly about the friendships in her life."

Her daughter Constance Belin Gibb of Greenwich, Conn., said her mother had friends of all ages. "Mother was really able to connect with people of her children's generation because she was always interested in people and was always there for them in time of crisis. She made a difference. I think that perhaps made her so good in the [Radcliffe] admissions office."

Harriet Belin was born in Boston and grew up in a house on Beacon Street. Her father was a lawyer. During the Great Depression, she said in her interview, they "managed to live comfortably but not lavishly." Her mother did not allow her five children to work summers so as not to take jobs away from youngsters who needed them.

In the early 1930s, the family lived in Washington, D.C., where her father was called by the Hoover administration. When the family returned to Boston, Harriet finished her pre-college education at the Winsor School and enrolled at Radcliffe.

When she met Don Belin in 1941, it was love after the first date, she said. They were married in October of that year.

In her interview, Mrs. Belin recalled how much she learned about people who did not have the privileges she had had when she went to Virginia and Mississippi with her husband for his basic training in the Army. "That exposure of going around the country was something I might not have got any other way and sort of roughin' it, in all sorts of different living situations in all sorts of different places."

After the war, Don Belin took a job in the Kennedy administration in the Treasury Department, and the family moved to Washington. They were back home again in 1965, when he joined Choate, Hall & Stewart.

Yesterday, Mrs. Belin's sister, Katharine Lawrence (Laurie) Auchincloss of Westwood, said the family followed in her footsteps and became Democrats.

"Our mother [Katharine Lawrence Putnam], a total Boston Brahmin, married a man from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Harriet's husband came from a suburb of Scranton, Pa. That saved all of us from being too Boston."

In addition to her son, daughter, and sister, Mrs. Belin leaves three other daughters, Harriet Lowell Winkelman of Oxford, England; Margaretta Lamont Belin of Durham, N.C., and Alletta d'Andelot Belin of Santa Fe; eleven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

A service has been held.

Edited by William Kelly
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