The Oldest Graduate

The oldest alumna

At the age of 104, Dorothy Summers Green ’17 of Lexington, Massachusetts, is the oldest living graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. In April, she discussed some memories of un­dergraduate life with her son, Win­slow Green ’58, M.D. ’62.

*   *   *

“Are you glad that you went to Radcliffe?” (Her favorite high-school teacher, a Rad­cliffe alumna, talked her out of applying to Wellesley.)

“Oh yes. Harvard and Radcliffe were the most distinguished. I had a scholarship and I think I did pretty well for myself for a little country girl.”

(She concentrated in fine arts, probably the first Radcliffe student to do so, and was president of the art club.) “What did you do in the art club?”

“Well, we begged for a model, somebody to draw from. We wanted a naked model, but all we got was one of our classmates dressed in a heavy business suit. So I never learned anatomy.”

“Did you play any sports?”

“I couldn’t play field hockey because I was scared of the ball. I would stay late to play on the basketball team, and how tired I was when I got home. (She commuted from Braintree for three years to save money.) My mother would sit with me, having supper, expecting to hear of all the wonderful things that happened, but I was too tired to talk.”

“There were no boys in your classes, of course. How did you meet boys?”

“We used to go to church parties in Harvard Square. And we’d meet them at the choral society.”

“Did you know any of the boys who went off to the war?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And did they all come back?”

A pause. “I wish I could see them again.”

“What do you remember with the most pleasure from those years?”

“My classes, friendships, everything.”

“Your Radcliffe classmates were your closest friends all your life?”

“Yes. We used to get together every month in Cambridge. We’d have a little supper. There’d be about 20 of us.”

“Mother, you know that you are now the oldest living graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe.”

“No!!”

“How does that feel?”

“I always knew that I’d live to be the oldest.”

“How did you know?”

“I don’t know. Instinct.”

*   *   *

Today, Green’s family is represented at the College by her great-grandson, Christopher Kemball ’01, a biochemical-sciences concentrator and a resident, appropriately enough, of Pforzheimer House in the former Radcliffe Quad.

You might also like

Talking About Tipping Points

Developing response capability for a climate emergency

Academia’s Absence from Homelessness

“The lack of dedicated research funding in this area is a major, major problem.”

The Enterprise Research Campus, Part Two

Tishman Speyer signals readiness to pursue approval for second phase of commercial development.  

Most popular

Claudine Gay in First Post-Presidency Appearance

At Morning Prayers, speaks of resilience and the unknown

The World’s Costliest Health Care

Administrative costs, greed, overutilization—can these drivers of U.S. medical costs be curbed?

The Gravity of Groups

Mina Cikara explores how people come into conflict, in politics and beyond

More to explore

Why do Groups Hate?

Mina Cikara explores how people come into conflict, in politics and beyond

Private Equity in Medicine and the Quality of Care

Hundreds of U.S. hospitals are owned by private equity firms—does monetizing medicine affect the quality of care?

Construction on Commercial Enterprise Research Campus in Allston

Construction on Harvard’s commercial enterprise research campus and new theater in Allston