Brim, Orville G.
Orville Gilbert Brim, Jr., known to all as Bert, died peacefully at his home in Florida on April 15th. He is survived by his four children, John G. Brim, Scott W. Brim, Margaret L. Brim, and Sarah M. Brim, their spouses, and his nine grandchildren. All of his extensive family loved him dearly as father, grandfather, father-in-law, uncle, mentor, and friend.
Born in 1923 in Elmira, NY to the late Orville and Helen (Whittier) Brim, Bert grew up in Columbus, OH. He spent childhood summers at his family's home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and later in Lakeville, CT. Bert also lived in Hawaii as an adolescent, which led to his lifelong love of ocean beaches.
Bert entered Yale University in the fall of 1941. His studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he served as a Lieutenant in the US Army Air Force, piloting a B-24 bomber while on combat duty in the Pacific.
During a two-week leave from Air Force training in 1944, Bert met Kathleen Jane Vigneron at a reception in Lakeville, CT He returned to his family's home that night and announced that he had met the woman he was going to marry. He did so shortly afterwards while stationed in Champagne, IL, and they remained happily married for 59 years, until Kathy's death in 2003.
Following his discharge Bert returned to Yale, earning his B.A. degree in 1947 and his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1951. After teaching at the University of Wisconsin for three years he returned east and joined the Russell Sage Foundation in New York, of which he became President in 1964. In 1974 Bert was appointed President of the Foundation for Child Development, also in New York.
Throughout his professional career Bert wrote or co-authored many books and scholarly articles. He was most proud of his book, Ambition: How We Manage Success and Failure Throughout Our Lives, published in 1992 and currently in the process of digital re-publication on Amazon. Bert served as Fellow, Board member, and in other leadership positions at numerous social science organizations. He served as Board Chairman of The American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences and as a longtime member of the Board of the William T. Grant Foundation. He received many academic and professional awards and was especially proud to have received the Wilbur Cross Medal of the Yale Graduate School Association in 1975.
In 1991 The John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation asked Bert to lead its Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. This project continued for ten years, and was the first of its kind. A seminal study, the MacArthur Midlife project continues to spawn new research to this day.
Bert and Kathy were long-time residents of Old Greenwich, CT. They had many happy times at their beloved Rocky Point Club. Bert enjoyed playing softball and was also an avid tennis player and jogger. He loved listening to big band music and dancing with his favorite partner, Kathy. Bert served for many years as a Trustee of the Greenwich Hospital Association.
Bert and Kathy later lived for six happy years in Manhattan. During this time they also created a family summer gathering spot in Watch Hill, RI where they were members of The Misquamicut Club.
In 1988 they began to reside much of the year in Florida, enjoying outdoor sports and many happy family visits. While continuing his MacArthur work from there, Bert also found time to continue his love of sports as an avid fan of his Ohio State Buckeyes and the New England Patriots. Throughout Bert's life, and continuing after Kathy's death, he travelled the world, always keenly interested in geography, other cultures, and especially beaches. During his life he amassed, with the help of travelling friends, a collection of nearly 900 ocean beach sand samples from throughout the world. This collection now resides at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Florida.
Bert remained to the final day of his life an inquisitive, thoughtful, and kind man. He was beloved by his many friends and colleagues, and will be deeply missed by his family. A memorial service will be held at the First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich, CT on Saturday, June 11th at 10:00 am.
Published in Greenwich Time on Apr. 26, 2016.