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Frank L. Haynes, Jr.

Died: March 26, 1990

Leigh Seaver remembers:

Frank Haynes grew up in a household full of brothers and sisters in a Bronx neighborhood — where, in later years, a taxi would not take me. His parents encouraged education, and all turned out to move Frank’s belongings into our Yale dorm room under the efficient organization of Mrs. Haynes. None of us got settled faster than Frank, launched by his close family.

He had a quick, intelligent wit and a sardonic sense of humor. He was slender, certainly not athletic, and moved gracefully. Having excelled at Bronx High School of Science, Frank was well prepared for Yale. He was the first black man many of us knew, but we didn’t know him well. His life was private. He talked eagerly about ideas but shared little of himself. Frank fit in well and was broadly accepted and well liked, and he reciprocated friendship warmly. Did he feel tension being black at mostly white Yale? If so, it rarely showed, and he was no more intimidated by Yale than the rest of us. Race didn’t seem to matter to him or to those of us near him. During that civil rights era, Frank focused on his education. He had found a path through the barriers of race and would not be distracted.

Nor did Frank discuss sexual orientation, but we knew he was different. Gay people were well closeted then, and we mostly went along with it. He didn’t tell, and others didn’t ask. It really didn’t matter; we liked Frank as he was. He was charming and warmly engaging with others’ dates but had no dates himself. He spent a good bit of time with special friends, and, I suspect, explored and worked out issues of sexual orientation with them. With the rest of us he just fit in.

Frank loved classical music. Early in our relationship a piece on the radio caught his attention; a Schumann sonata he thought. My guess, Mendelssohn, proved correct. Frank decided I might be okay after all. Many evenings after that found us discussing classical composers, artists and orchestras. We attended concerts and recitals together including one in Woolsey Hall by a cellist named Rostropovich whom Frank thought I really ought to hear.

After graduation Frank earned his law degree at Yale. Assigned to represent Topeka Board of Education against Brown in moot court, he argued for state-sponsored school segregation, again succeeding while compartmentalizing his own feelings and attitudes.

He was involved in antipoverty law in LA but failed the notorious California Bar Exam. He then practiced law at Milbank Tweed in Manhattan, became a ballet fan, and supported the Dance Theater of Harlem and Ballet Magazine. I spent a weekend with him in his apartment near Lincoln Center. We caught up on our lives since Yale and saw a ballet. We left my car in the Bronx for his family to guard. It snowed eight inches; they cleared the car and the pavement. What kind, wonderful people!

I never saw Frank after that. He joined the legal staff at Prudential in 1976 and became general counsel of their HMO. He died in 1990, presumably of AIDS. I learned of his death several years later. I wish I had known of his illness and been there for him.

Stephen Billard remembers:

Frank was a good friend while we were in JE. He was at Susan’s and my wedding. Frank was the Godfather to our Son Michael. I am sorry I did not learn of his death before his funeral. We were living in England at the time and had not had frequent contact for a while.

The thing I remember best of Frank was his sense of humor. Two things illustrate it. The first was while at Yale. Whenever a girlfriend of a classmate would say to Frank “I know just the perfect girl for you,” he would later remark, “You know what that means, don’t you? She’s Black!”

The other was after Frank graduated from law school. Susan and I had migrated to California and were living near Pasadena. Frank decided to try for the California Bar Exam. When he first arrived, he stayed with us in our new (to us) home in Arcadia. He liked to get the mower out and mow the lawn when I was not around. He wanted our neighbors to be impressed that we had a black gardener.

Frank did not pass the California Bar Exam. He returned to New York and went into practice there. Unfortunately, we did not see much of him after he left California.