Richard P. Ettinger

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Biographical Information

"Richard P. Ettinger Jr., a prominent publisher whose life was transformed by a single book, died on April 26 at the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 73 and lived in Santa Fe, N.M., not far from the Native American Preparatory School he founded last year...

"A sixth-generation New Yorker who was born in Manhattan to a life of power, privilege and prestige, Mr. Ettinger was the son of a founder of a publishing company that would have been known as Ettinger-Gerstenberg if the founders had not given it their mothers' maiden names and called it Prentice-Hall... Although he sold his company in 1975 and retired to Newport Beach, Calif., where he maintained a beachfront house and won many sailing victories with his boats Free Spirit and Free Enterprise, he was also active in philanthropy, especially after his father died in 1971 and bequeathed $24 million to the family's Educational Foundation of America.

"Mr. Ettinger, who was the foundation's chairman and a Prentice-Hall director, added to the scope of his philanthropy in 1984 when he negotiated the sale of the company to Gulf & Western for $700 million, including about $90 million for his 12.5 percent interest. As a graduate of a college that had been established to provide an education for American Indians, Mr. Ettinger, who found it curious that there were virtually no Indians at Dartmouth in his day, made it a point to include Indians among the beneficiaries of foundation scholarships.

"Still, for all his previous interest in Indian culture, history and modern social problems, nothing had prepared him for what happened when he picked up a copy of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" shortly after it was published in 1970 (by Holt, Rinehart and Winston).

"Mr. Ettinger was so struck by Dee Brown's account of atrocities suffered by Indians in late 19th-century America that he abandoned his role of gentleman sailor and devoted his life to improving their lot. What he regarded as his crowning achievement, a school to prepare promising Indian students for college while making the study and exercise of their native culture an integral part of the curriculum, opened last fall on a 1,600-acre campus near San Ysidro, N.M.

"The school, which opened with 34 ninth graders and plans to add a class a year, is an outgrowth of a summer program Mr. Ettinger helped establish in 1988. Curiously, the school is itself a benign variation of an educational atrocity, the notorious boarding schools established to purge Indians of every vestige of their heritage. Because those boarding schools were so despised by Indians, Mr. Ettinger's institution takes pains to call itself a residential school. Until he became ill, Mr. Ettinger's foundation provided much of the school's financing and he personally directed the supplementary fund-raising efforts and was a frequent visitor."[1]


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  1. nyt Richard P. Ettinger Jr., 73, Publisher Who Helped Indians, organizational web page, accessed January 1, 2013.