Barbara Winslow Grant, Mother of Times Chairman, Dies at 90
Barbara Winslow Grant, a former charity fund-raiser and leader in school volunteerism who was the wife of one New York Times publisher, the mother of another and the grandmother of a third, died on Saturday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. She was 90.
Her death, at a retirement home, was confirmed by her son Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of The New York Times Company.
Mr. Sulzberger succeeded his father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, as publisher in 1992 and as chairman in 1997. The elder Mr. Sulzberger was married to Ms. Grant from 1948 until they divorced in 1956. He died in 2012. Mr. Sulzberger Jr.’s son, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, was named publisher in 2017.
Ms. Grant was born on March 31, 1928, in Paris to Theodore F. Grant, an importer of animal hides, and the former Helen Fisher MacDonald, a secretary.
Mr. Grant was a lineal descendant of John Alden, a crew member on the Mayflower. Another Pilgrim ancestor, Edward Winslow, was the author of the 1624 account “Good News From New England: A True Relation of Things Very Remarkable at the Plantation of Plimoth in New England.”
The Grant family moved from Paris to Barcelona and then to the United States in 1932.
As a young woman, Ms. Grant was a student at the School of American Ballet in New York and went on to dance professionally, appearing at City Center, the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Ballet, among other venues.
Ms. Grant was in college and working in The Times’s executive offices when she met Mr. Sulzberger. His father, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, was the publisher at the time.
After they married at her parents’ home in Westchester County, N.Y., she resumed her studies at Barnard and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1951, the same year Mr. Sulzberger graduated from Columbia College after serving with the Marines in the Pacific.
During the 1960s, she worked for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where, among other things, she chaired a committee of the Junior Council that helped select 74 works by new artists for the exhibition “Recent Paintings U.S.A.: The Figure,” which toured to other museums beginning in 1962.
Her two subsequent marriages — to David S. Christy, an economist and adviser to the Afghan resistance during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and Jerry Johnson, who worked at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kan. — also ended in divorce. Mr. Christy died in 2015.
Beginning in 1969, Ms. Grant directed the New York office of the Menninger Foundation, “hired to raise money,” she later wrote. The foundation was started by Dr. Charles F. Menninger and his sons to further psychiatric treatment and research.
In the mid-1970s, while married to Mr. Johnson, she was a communications specialist for the public schools in Topeka, where she directed the school volunteer program and oversaw recruitment, training and placement.
She moved to California in retirement in 1991 and to Rancho Palos Verdes in 2008.
In addition to her son Arthur and grandson Arthur, Ms. Grant is survived by a daughter, Karen Sulzberger, from her first marriage; two children, David Christy Jr. and Sarah Christy, from her second marriage; and six grandchildren. Her brother, Theodore Jr., and sister, Elizabeth, died earlier.
In 2015 Ms. Grant completed an unpublished 369-page memoir titled “The Begats … and Me,” taking its title from “The Begat,” a jaunty song about procreation from E. Y. Harburg’s musical “Finian’s Rainbow.” She addressed the memoir’s conclusion to “my dear children,” thanking them for their “patience and love over the years” and noting, “As for me and my feelings about impending death, I am truly an accepting pragmatist.”
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