November 8: Stetson Conn (1986)

Stetson Conn held a Ph.D. degree in history from Yale University and taught history at Yale, Amherst College, and The George Washington University. After joining the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, in 1946, he served as senior editor, as Acting Chief Historian, as Chief of the Western Hemisphere Section, and as Deputy Chief Historian before becoming Chief Historian of the Army in 1958. Conn was general editor of the Army’s 15-volume history of its participation in World War II. He retired from the Army the week his wife, Mary Alice, died. He had to journey from the funeral at Epiphany to his retirement luncheon at Ft. McNair. Conn had been an Epiphany parishioner since the late 1950s and had served as a vestry member, secretary to the vestry, and parish historian.

Following Conn’s retirement, Epiphany rector Edgar Romig suggested the possibility of writing a history of the parish. The resulting book, Washington’s Epiphany: Church and Parish, 1842-1972 was published in 1976. In the preface, Conn wrote the following. “Preparing a history of an Episcopal church and parish may seem an unlikely occupation for an historian who had been reared a Congregationalist and whose professional specialization had been in the fields of diplomatic and military history. Yet when Epiphany’s rector suggested my doing so after I retired from full-time employment in 1971, it seemed to me that such an undertaking might be both useful and enjoyable, and certainly I have found the latter to be true.” Conn’s book has served as the authoritative history of the parish ever since. Conn’s daughter and son-in-law, Judy and Don Lokerson, remain parishioners of the parish today.

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