Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Tennis Pro and the Choir Master - Rodney Gates challenge for Digitalmania

In 1870, Herbert George Loveday was born in London, England, into a large middle class family that placed a strong emphasis on education and religion.

In 1873, Robert Duffield Wrenn was born into a well to do, upper class family in Illinois.

By 1890, Herbert George Loveday was studying theology at Oxford.  He had a strong talent and interest in music, particularly the piano.

By the mid 1890s, Robert Duffield Wrenn was enrolled at Harvard, establishing a reputation as a formidable tennis player.

Throughout the 1890s and early 1900s, Herbert George Loveday began to write and publish music, most with a strong religious theme.  He also began to tour throughout Europe as a professional pianist.

Throughout the 1890s, Robert Duffield Wrenn won four US Singles Tennis Championships as well as the US Doubles Championship with his brother George.

In the 1900s, Herbert George Loveday found employment as the choirmaster of various churches in England.

In 1903, Robert Duffield Wrenn married a New York socialite.  Within two years, she was dead.  
He continued to travel from New York to Europe playing tennis although without the same success he enjoyed in his youth.

In 1912, Robert Duffield Wrenn became president of the United States Tennis Association.

1913, Herbert George Loveday married Ethel Jardin, the daughter of a Headmaster of a boys school in Scotland.
He and his new wife immigrated to the United States.  

In 1914, Herbert George Loveday became choirmaster of St Mary's Church in Tuxedo Park, New York.  Tuxedo Park has a reputation as a summer home to the very well to do and upper crust of  Manhattan society.

On the evening of May 3, 1914, Herbert George Loveday was oustide St Mary's Episcopal church along with the Church Sexton, his wife and a few other parishioners.

Robert Duffield Wrenn was returning from the train station, after seeing off a group of guests returning to the city.  He was driving the "large touring car" and lost control.  He ran into the group of people outside the church.

Three men and one woman were injured, including Herbert George Loveday.  Mr Loveday was rushed to a local hospital but died within a few hours.

Robert Duffield Wrenn was arrested but was not indicted for the crime.

Ethel Jardin Loveday gave birth a few months later to Herbert George Loveday's only child.  

In January 1915, Robert Duffield Wrenn settled a lawsuit filed against him by Ethel Jardin Loveday for $15,000 (roughly the modern equivalent of $400,000).

On November 22, 1925, Robert Wrenn Duffield died at the age of 52 in New York City.

Ethel Jardin Loveday raised her only child in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City.  She died in the late 1940s.


I find it interesting how lives with no previous connection can collide with such unfortunate results.

Herbert George Loveday was my great-grandfather.  I don't know what really happened that night.  

Ethel Jardin Loveday told her son that her father died a hero, that Herbert George Loveday died pushing a woman out of the way of a car driven by a man who was heavily intoxicated.

Is there any truth in that or was it just a story told to a small boy who never met his father to give his father's death some purpose and some importance?

The incident made headlines nation wide.

Drunk driving was made a crime in New York in 1910.

Both Robert Duffield Wrenn and his chauffeur were in the car and testifed that the car malfunctioned.

Although Robert Duffield Wrenn was arrested, he was not indicted

Was he drinking too much that night?

There was is no one left who can either confirm or deny the story.

Herbert George Loveday's life ended too soon.  He missed out on so much and so many opportunities.

Robert Duffield Wrenn lived a glittering life, a successful life, but he too died rather young.  

Did he regret what happened?  Did he blame himself for the death of another?

What were the two thinking in that moment, a car careening out of control, a beautiful May evening marred by tragedy?  

Two lives collided with such horrible results.

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