In 1996, when the Yale Alumni Association offered Colonel William K. Lanman ’28 — navy pilot, investment manager and professional golfer — the Yale Medal, its highest honor, it credited him with three major renovation projects: Lanman-Wright Hall, the admissions office and the proposed Lanman Center addition to the Payne Whitney Gym. But the gifts, one has to imagine, were the generous spoils of wealth. His legacy, in many ways, is a profound multi-generational attachment to the university that shaped his family.
Lanman, who graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School when it was home to a separate undergraduate program, was virtually born into Yale. He followed James Lanman, who graduated from Yale College in 1788. In the 19th century, three Lanmans graduated from the college: Charles J. Lanman in 1814, Joseph Lanman in 1864 and Charles R. Lanman in 1871. Colonel Lanman’s brothers — the late Henry R. Lanman ’32 and Jonathan T. Lanman. ’40, ’43 MED — also attended Yale. The family chose Yale because Yale continued to choose it. As the University celebrates an ongoing 300th anniversary bash, which Lanman himself funded three years ago, it will doubtless take stock of the legendary man and the family that identified with it so closely.