Their Years Together

Dorothy and Willard were married in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1911 without fanfare and away from New York's gossip columns. After the honeymoon, they lived in Peking until the Chinese revolutionary forces, trying to gain power after the fall of the Manchu dynasty made it unwise to stay. When they returned to New York, their lives took a more natural turn. They spent most of their time between 1912 and 1917 in America. Three children were born: Whitney in 1912, Beatrice in 1914, and Michael in 1916. They built an elegant Georgian home on Fifth Avenue, and escaped the city's heat at one of many homes in the country.

Straight's loyalty to friends and Cornell University never wavered. He wrote articles for the Cornell Alumni News while serving as an Associated Press correspondent in Korea during the Russo-Japanese War. In 1914 he donated the Memorial Field House in honor of his friend Henry Schoellkopf '02, and the next year he was elected a trustee of the university.

The outbreak of the First World War preoccupied Willard, who predicted the United States would become involved. In 1917 he joined the army and went to France. While Willard was in the army, Dorothy worked for many volunteer groups. She raised money for the Red Cross, the Women's Liberty Loan Committee, and the Young Men's Christian Association. She assisted the Women's City Club and through the YMCA she began a program to recruit women to work in military canteens overseas.Willard developed pneumonia from a bad case of influenza and died in Paris on December 1, 1918. He was thirty-eight.

It was soon made public the Willard Straight's will directed his wife to do "such a thing or things for Cornell University as she may think most fitting and useful to make the same a more human place."


Cofer, R. H. 1990. The Straight story: an informal history of Willard Straight Hall  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University