Choate Community Mourns the Loss of Headmaster Emeritus Seymour St. John
Posted 04/18/2006 12:00AM

The Choate Rosemary Hall community is saddened by the news of the death of our beloved Headmaster Emeritus Seymour St. John on April 17, 2006. He died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Seymour St. John was born on campus in 1912. His father was headmaster for 40 years. Following in George St. John's footsteps, Seymour became headmaster in 1947 and served until his retirement in 1973. “He was really a person who took the school into the modern age,” said Headmaster Edward J. Shanahan. “He took the school from his father’s hands and had the courage and the vision to grow it. I’m enormously indebted to him.”

After graduating cum laude from Choate in 1931, Seymour St. John graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 1935 and returned to Choate to teach French. He was ordained an Episcopal minister in 1942. During World War II, he served in the Navy. After the war, he earned a master’s degree from Columbia and succeeded his father as Choate headmaster. In 1962, he was elected president of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. He was instrumental in moving the girls school , Rosemary Hall, from Greenwich, Conn., back to Wallingford, where it had been founded. An article in the Record-Journal said St. John will be remembered for being a progressive educator, most notably, "he internationalized Choate Rosemary Hall and brought women to campus."

He is survived by his wife, Marie “Mazie” St. John; a son, Gordon W. St. John '55 of Livonia, MI, a daughter, Margaret St. John of Tucson, AZ; and five grandchildren: Mrs. Michael Sutton of San Diego, CA; Mr. Gordon Webb St. John '80 of Stratford, PA; Mrs. Christopher Amorello '84 of Concord, MA.; Mr. Koren Eloul and Ms. Liyam Eloul of Tucson, AZ, and nine great grandchildren. His first wife, Margaret Spencer St. John, predeceased him.

The school will observe a moment of silence on Thursday, April 20, after the ringing of the chapel bells at 11 a.m. The chapel was named for St. John in 1998. He was on campus with his wife in October for the chapel’s rededication following significant renovations.

Choate Rosemary Hall will have an on-campus memorial service Sat., May 20, at 11:00 a.m. In addition there will be a memorial service at Weekapaug Chapel in Weekapaug, RI, Sat., June 24, at 11:00 a.m. A memorial celebration and thanksgiving service will be held at Christ Memorial Chapel in Jupiter Island, FL, Sat., Nov. 25, at 4:00 p.m. Donations in his memory may be made to the Seymour St. John Memorial Chapel Fund, c/o the Choate Rosemary Hall Development Office, 333 Christian Street, Wallingford, CT 06492. If you would like to send a condolence or reminiscence, please send a message to Or you may write c/o the Bulletin, Communications Office, 333 Christian Street, Wallingford, CT 06492.