Alexander Cochrane Forbes (1909-2005) #SimonColonist #ThomasElder

Ted Smith #55

Alexander "Sandy" Cocrane Forbes was b. 3 Nov 1909 in Needham, Massachusetts to Frances Murray Forbes Jr. and Marjorie Cochrane. He died 5 Jun 2005 in Westwood, Massachusetts.
On 10 Feb 1934, he married Irene Helen Robbins. She was b. 27 Sep 1914 in Guatemala City, Guatemala, the daughter of US diplomat Warren Delano Robbins (1885-1935) and Irene de Bruyn (1887-1960). Warren is a first cousin of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. See for more information about Warren. Helen Robbins Forbes died 16 Mar 2000 in North Palm Beach, Florida.

In 1934, Warren Robbins was serving as Ambassador to  Canada, and given his links to the Roosevelts, the Forbes-Robbins wedding in Ottawa was quite a fete, making for some interesting reading. I share it below, along with Alexander's obituary.

Nashville Banner (Nashville, Tennessee), 11 Feb 1934, Page 23

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa Scene of Forbes-Rohbins Wedding

Pomp and Pageanlry of Old World Mark Ceremony Uniting Two of America' Oldest Families--Reception at United States Legation Following Ceremony

Ottawa, Ont. Feb. 10--(UP)--With all the pomp and pageantry of the old world, two of America's oldest families were united today when Miss Irene Helen Robbins, daughter of Warren Delano Robbins, United States Minister to Canada and Mrs. Robbins, was married to Alexander Cochrane Forbes, son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Murray Forbes of Boston, Mass.

Imposing Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the four basilicas in the country, glittered like a page from a fairy book wedding. Flashing uniforms. Glittering gowns, diplomats from all parts of the world, nobility and distinguished persons from the United 8tates and Canada, greeted the bride as she was whirled through the snow in a milk-white sleigh. By the aide of her speeding sleigh, galloped an escort of Royal Canadian Mounted Police, bright in their scarlet tunics.

The bride entered the Cathedral dressed in a white gown of Puritan design. She carried a white prayer book and white orchids. Waiting were her bridesmaid in Puritan gowns of yellow taffeta.

Here the company gathered to see the Forbes and Robblns family united for the fifth time since Colonial days. Mrs. James Roosevelt, grand-aunt of the bride and mother of President Frank D. Roosevelt, was there. The entire diplomatic corps, as at a Buckingham Palace court, attended in brilliant garb, headed by Japanese Minister Iyamasa Yokugawa. The Governor-General of Canada and the Countess of Bensborough, with their daughter, Lady Moyra Posonoby, were present, as were Prime Minister of Canada R. B. Bennett and Mrs. Curtis B. Dall, daughter of President Roosevelt and cousin of the bride.

As the bride entered the cathedral, the choir, augmented by seventy-five boy soloists, sang. She was attended by Miss Priscilla St. George, maid-of-honor, and Miss Janet Southam of Ottawa and Miss Katherlne Salvage, Miss Louise Auchincloss, Mrs. John Hinckley, Miss Edith Baker, the Misses Dorothy and Cynthia Forbes, and Miss Alexandria Bacon of New York.

The bridegroom was waiting at the altar Candles sputtered and light shone dimly through great stained windows. The song of the choir filled the dusky basilica.

Standing with the groom was his brother, F. Murray Forbes, Jr., as best man. The ushers were William Patten of Boston, Joseph W. Alsop, Jr., William O. Day, Jr., Reginald Fincke, Warren Delano, and Warren and Edward H. Robblns of New York, and Alvah Crocker, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Charles Devens, and Charles Stockton of Boston.

In the archbishop's palace, Dr. Joseph Charbonneau, vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, performed the religious ceremony. The bride's father, who before his ministry served as Washington's social arbiter in his duties as chief of protocol in the State Department, gave the bride away.

Then, in the cathedral, the monsignor blessed the nuptial ring in a special ceremony.

To complete the pageantry and fairy-book splendor, kilted pipers of the Cameron Highlanders escorted the couple to the United State Legation with their pipes swirling through the lofty chambers of the budding. Here, the wedding reception was held. Special trains from many points In the United States had brought socially-prominent guests.

After the reception, the couple left for a two-day honeymoon in a cottage at Lucerne-in-Switzerland (sic), after which they will journey to Bermuda. On their return, they will make their home in New York.


The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 15 Jun 2005, Page 51

Photo caption: Alexander Forbes helped restore Boston's Ritz-Carlton.

Alexander C. Forbes; war hero became leading developer
By Gloria Negri

Alexander Cochrane Forbes was known as a gentleman who could charm almost everyone, including an elderly woman with a shotgun who once wanted him and other developers off the land around her shack in Needham.

"After four or five meetings, the woman invited Sandy in for tea," said Jerry Blakeley of Boston, former president of the Boston development firm of Cabot, Cabot & Forbes. "He arranged for a swap of her shack for a house on a nice street in Needham. She was very pleased with it."

The incident took place in 1952 as CC&F was assembling land for the New England Industrial Park. Mr. Forbes was president of the firm that his father helped found.

Mr. Forbes, who worked with the firm from 1946 to 1958 and later was involved in charitable causes, died June 5 of pneumonia in Fox Hill Village, a retirement community in Westwood. He was 95. He previously lived in Manchester-by-the-Sea and in South Dartmouth.

Eventually, Mr. Forbes named Blakeley as CC&F's president and, when the firm bought the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston in 1955, Blakeley turned to Mr. Forbes to restore its faded elegance. "He had a wonderful sense of style," Blakeley said.

Mr. Forbes was so elegant that in a 1960 Esquire magazine article by George Frazier, the late Globe columnist listed Mr. Forbes among the men who practiced the art of wearing clothes very well. "At fifty," Frazier wrote, "Forbes, who is extremely handsome, looks little older than he did as a Harvard undergraduate (1928-1932)."

Best-dressed lists were not something Mr. Forbes sought to be included in, said his son C. Stewart of South Dartmouth. "Dad wanted to look dignified but understated," he said.

Mr. Forbes cared more about people, his family said, than he did about buildings and wardrobe and "not just the fancy ones," said his daughter Alexandra Forbes Walker of Dover. "Dad was prouder to be a guest at a Jamaican wedding than a guest at the White House," she said.

Had Senator John F. Kerry won the presidency, though, Mr. Forbes might well have spent time in Washington. He was the first cousin of Rosemary Forbes Kerry, the senator's mother.

Mr. Forbes was born in Needham to Francis Murray and Marjorie (Cochrane) Forbes. After graduating from Groton, he went to Harvard, graduating in 1932. Mr. Forbes joined the Merchant Marines and worked on freighters and passenger ships. On one of the latter, he met Irene Helen Robbins, daughter of the US minister to Canada and a second cousin to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They married in 1934 and lived in Boston and later in New York.

Mr. Forbes served in the Navy from 1940 to 1946 in command of an LST (Landing Ship, Tank) in the South Pacific. He was awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in landing troops and materiel on Vella Lavella Island. (He also won a Bronze Star for his service.) Through the years after World War II, Mr. Forbes remained a father figure to the LST crew, said Dottie Potter of Ashville, N.Y., whose late husband was one of them.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Forbes served as a trustee of Wellesley College, taking part in the planning of several campus buildings. In the 1960s, he was in charge of raising money for the Harvard museums.

In later years, Mr. Forbes and his wife lived in a home they had built in Jamaica. After 10 years there, they moved to Florida. There, Mr. Forbes volunteered in hospice care and gave shaves to hospitalized veterans. "Dad always felt that with privilege, there was an obligation to service," his son said.

In the 1970s, his son said, Mr. Forbes and his wife moved to Manchester-by-the-Sea. Irene Forbes died several years ago.

At 91, Mr. Forbes went on a safari to Tanzania, hiking through the rainforest with the other travelers. "He was gutsy," said Deborah Burke of Warren, Vt, who was on the trip. "He would tell self-deprecating stories and was not a name-dropper."

And last year, Mr. Forbes took family members abroad and danced on the Queen Mary II. A week before he died, his son said, he shared a champagne toast with his children.

"Sandy was a superb gentleman and the ultimate diplomat and amateur athlete," said Russell Clark, a former master of foxhounds at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton.

"Living takes a lot of luck," Mr. Forbes wrote in his 50th Harvard class reunion book. "I have had my share."

Besides his son and his daughter, Mr. Forbes leaves another daughter, Felicity Forbes Hoyt of Manchester-by-the-Sea; a sister, Cynthia Forbes Lyman of Needham; eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will take place at noon today at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Dedham.

See for the research on Alexander Cochrane Forbes.