October 9: Christopher D’Olier Reeve (2004)

Christopher Reeve was an American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, author, activist and equestrian. Reeve was born September 25, 1952, in New York City, to journalist Barbara Lamb and writer/professor Franklin D’Olier Reeve. He came from an upper-class family; his paternal grandfather was CEO of Prudential Financial, and one of his maternal great-grandfathers was Supreme Court justice Mahlon Pitney. It is his ancestry that ties Reeve to Epiphany. On October 7, 1891, Reeve’s great grandparents, Augustus Henry Reeve and Margaretta Willis Baldwin were married at Epiphany. In fact, so connected was the family to the church that former rector Charles H. Hall returned to officiate at the ceremony after being gone 22 years. On November 6, 1861, Reeve’s great-great grandparents, Henry Baldwin (Jr.) and Katherine Irving Dayton were married at Epiphany. One more generation back, Reeve’s great-great-great grandfather, Henry Baldwin (Sr.) was buried from the church in 1868. There are many other strong ancestral ties. The mother of Epiphany’s founding rector, John W. French, was a Baldwin, which places Reeve in relation to the very founding of the church. Christopher Reeve once stated that he had strong attachments to his past, the place where he grew up, his heritage, and family traditions.

When Christopher Reeve was four, his parents divorced. His mother moved Christopher and his brother Benjamin to Princeton, New Jersey, and married an investment banker a few years later. After graduating from high school, Reeve studied at Cornell University while at the same time working as a professional actor. In his final year at Cornell, he was one of two students selected (Robin Williams was the other) to study at New York’s famous Julliard School, under the renowned John Houseman. Although Christopher is best known for his role as Superman (1978), his acting career spans a much larger ground. Paralyzed after a horse riding accident, he died suddenly at age 52 after several years of living and working with his severe disability. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation continues the work of Christopher and his wife, Dana in seeking a cure for spinal cord injury and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis. Epiphany received a grant from the Reeve Foundation to improve accessibility with the 2012 renovation of the church.

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