Weld Stevens Henshaw

HARPSWELL – Weld Stevens Henshaw died peacefully on Oct. 4, 2023, at the Vicarage-by-the-Sea in Harpswell, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 85 years old.

Born Oct. 27, 1937 to Alice Anita Stevens Henshaw and John Handy Henshaw in New York City, N.Y., Weld descended from seven Mayflower passengers and myriad small business owners, merchants, lawyers, ministers, and farmers of New England, New York, and the South.

Weld grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., with summers in Brunswick, and attended St. Mark’s School (class of 1955) in Southborough, Mass., where he won the general knowledge prize, as did his father and uncle. He matriculated at Harvard University where he joined his well-loved Delphic Club. As a result of too many poker games at the club, missed classes, and reading the newspaper in class, the Harvard administration insisted he take a year-long hiatus from his studies, which he spent in the U.S. Army. When asked to peel potatoes on kitchen patrol, Weld unsuccessfully attempted to convince his sergeant of the nutritional value of potato skins.

Returning to Harvard with newfound diligence, Weld earned his A.B. from the College in 1960 and was accepted at Harvard Law School, from which he earned his LLB in 1963. He joined the Boston law firm of Choate, Hall and Stewart, was elected partner in 1971, and led its domestic relations and family law practice. For a number of years, he served as outside counsel to the Museum of Fine Arts and St. Mark’s School.

Weld represented a spouse in many of Boston’s most high-profile divorces, and like all great professionals, he practiced what he preached, divorcing three times himself and marrying four times. He married Dalene Powers in 1960, Mary Tyler Knowles in 1975, Toni Stephan in 1985, and Mary Hodges in 1998.

A Renaissance man, Weld had an eclectic range of interests outside that of the law. At one time he kept a breeding pair of canaries and offered a hand-raised fledgling to a Choate colleague as a wedding present on the condition that the young canary be named for a 14th century Italian painter. The colleague’s fiancée, on the other hand, insisted that the bird be named Pete. Under some pressure, the colleague pored through art history books and landed upon Pietro Lorenzetti (“Pete” for short), a compromise which Weld determined satisfied the condition of the gift.

When he was not viewing art at the MFA, the Fogg, or his favorite, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, he was buying it at auctions; thus, he developed an eclectic collection of Roman amphora, early Christian icons, and museum-quality paintings and furniture. Well into his 60s, he was working towards a master’s in Art History through the Harvard Extension School.

An avid woodworker and sailor, Weld handcrafted a small sailboat named The Brendan. Using the proceeds from the unexpected discovery of a John Henry Twachtman painting in their father’s attic, Weld and his brother bought Java, the first-ever Concordia Yawl, in 1987, on which he spent many happy days and nights exploring Casco Bay and beyond. He participated in the 1999 Marblehead-Halifax Race, numerous Yarmouth-to-Yarmouth Cups, and won the Monhegan Island Race double-handed with son, Nat, in 2004.

Perhaps his greatest obsession was education. Weld was the class officer for his class at St. Mark’s and later joined the Board of Trustees. He was similarly passionate about supporting Harvard, where he served as the graduate president of the Delphic Club. He was a huge advocate for the liberal arts, insisting that the young must “become close readers, proficient writers, and appreciative of music and art.”

In 1998, Weld took early retirement from his law firm and shortly thereafter built his dream house, Tumblehome, on Bunganuc Road in Brunswick. He spent his summers cutting wood, gardening, and sailing and his winters reading and writing. He was a member of the Unitarian Universalist church, but he used to sum up his philosophy of life as TEGWAR, or “the exciting game without any rules,” encapsulating his belief that adaptability and creativity are more valuable than any dogma.

Weld is survived by three sons, Nathaniel V. Henshaw of Brunswick, Weld M. S. Henshaw of Marlborough, Mass., and John M. Henshaw, of Mansfield, Mass. He leaves behind five grandchildren, Nick Henshaw of New York, N.Y., Lyse Henshaw of Acton, Mass., Ben Henshaw, of Fryeburg, Sumayya and Ilyas Henshaw, of Mansfield, Mass.

There will be a memorial service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Unitarian Universalist church in Brunswick (1 Middle St., Brunswick, ME 04011) with a reception and lunch to follow. Internment has already taken place privately.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Weld’s name to St. Mark’s School, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, or the Brunswick Unitarian Universalist Church would be most appreciated.

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