2009 Heritage Award: Ralph Earle ’46
The 2009 Heritage Award will go to Ralph Earle II ’46, the chief U.S. negotiator for SALT II between 1978 and 1980 and the director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA).
Students familiar with international history and politics will recognize “SALT” as the acronym for the strategic arms limitation talks, a series of negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union designed to reduce their nuclear arsenals in the late 1970s.
Ambassador Earle’s life has certainly tracked a course of public service. Following Deerfield, Mr. Earle served in the Army Corps of Engineers and Counter Intelligence Corps from 1950-1952, later attending Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Prior to his involvement in SALT I and II, Ambassador Earle occupied the role of ACDA representative and numerous defense-related positions besides. He has practiced law in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Two current Deerfield students can already claim a close knowledge of Ambassador Earle’s contributions, however: his grandchildren, Liz Earle ’10 and Thomas Earle ’12. How did they react to the news of their grandfather’s recognition?
“I thought it was really cool,” said Liz, “I think he totally deserves it, and he loves Deerfield, he loves the fact that [both his sons] went to Deerfield and that Thomas and I are here now, and he really takes every opportunity to come out and see us and hear about what’s going on, because it had a huge impact on him.”
“He inspired my dad to come here,” said Thomas of Ambassador Earle, “and my dad inspired me.”
Both Liz and Thomas noted how fully their grandfather has supported them throughout their Deerfield careers.
The young Earles will introduce their grandfather when he addresses the community at the October 6 school meeting. Asked what we can expect from Ambassador Earle’s speech, Liz replied, “He does have a lot to say,” though Thomas added, “he plans on keeping it rather short and sweet.”
Laura “Mimi” Morsman, director of alumni relations, suggested that the ambassador will discuss “differences in the world he entered after school versus the world [our seniors, Class of ‘10] are entering” and also the greatest risks facing the U.S. today.
Both Earle siblings seem to have given the notion of heritage some thought as well, Liz in particular noting, “Actually, going forward into this whole college process, I’m really looking into political science and government as a career path that I kind of want to go down…public service and politics are definitely in the family.”
The Heritage Award annually recognizes one DA alumnus for the notable work he or she has pursued over a post-graduation career.
Frequently, those contributions involve some form of public service—always unique to the recipient’s passions, and always meaningful to the entire Deerfield community. Past winners familiar to current students include Father Thomas Keating ’40 (recipient ’06); Muppet co-designer Michael K. Frith ’59 (recipient ’07), and environmental conservationist and educator Brian A. Rosborough ’58 (recipient ’08).
The Heritage Award derives its name, of course, from our school motto, “Be Worthy of Your Heritage.” DA itself has become a major element of the Earles’ family heritage.