When Julia McWillliams Child '34
visited campus as an alumna-in-residence in October 2001, she told
students: "You have to want to learn, and you have to love to
eat." Wise words from a unique Smith graduate whose culinary
talents became legendary. Well-respected, always enthusiastic and gifted
with an unpretentious knack for spontaneous humor, Child became America's
first and best-loved celebrity chef. She died August 13 at her California
home two days before her 92nd birthday
Child earned a history degree from Smith in 1934, and some 27 years later made
history of her own with the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking
and then six more best-selling cookbooks. She became famous as the hostess of "The
French Chef," an award-winning PBS television series that evolved from
the success of her first cookbook.
Child was honored as one of Smith College's
remarkable alumnae in 1999. Throughout her life, she was an active Smith alumna,
visiting frequently at the college's request on special occasions and
fostering a generous relationship that began shortly after her graduation.
Julia Child '34 returned to campus
as an alumna-in-residence in October 2001 and, not surprisingly,
ended up in the kitchen cooking spring rolls with Davy
Photo courtesy Daily Hampshire Gazette.
In 1941 Child and her father, John McWilliams
Jr., established the Carolyn Weston McWilliams Scholarship
Fund in honor of Child's mother who graduated
from Smith in 1900. Now, with a large endowment, the scholarship is available
to young women from California, or to those from other Pacific Coast states
if there are no applicants from California. Two students from the Oakland,
California, area were last year's recipients of the McWilliams Scholarship.
also established a $200,000 trust for the college in 1994 after the death
of her husband, Paul Child. When she retired to California in 2001, she
donated her house to Smith and the contents of her kitchen
to the Smithsonian Institution. She also made a significant gift toward
the construction of college's
new campus center.
Child was loved by many, and her death
is mourned by all those whose lives she touched. "It is rare
to meet someone who has inspired and influenced as many people as Julia
Smith President Carol T. Christ. "She
leaves a legacy that will long be remembered, not only for her love of
fine cooking but also for her exuberance for life."
advice to the cook was often sensible and uncomplicated. "It's
fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day," she
commented on one occasion. "That's what human life is all about -- enjoying
Events to celebrate the life and legacy of Julia Child will be held this
fall on the Smith campus. Further details are forthcoming.