John Goelet

2023 opened with the passing of a giant when John Goelet died at home in Maryland, January 8. He was 91 years old, and is survived by Henrietta, his wife of seven decades, and by his sons Philip and Christopher, and their far-flung families.

Across three formative decades, Americans for Middle East Understanding was fortunate to have a meaningful and collaborative relationship with John Goelet.

Together with Henrietta he was a steadfast supporter of our work and a longstanding member of the AMEU Board. It is hard to overstate the ways in which John impacted AMEU: even as his keen and radical intellect pursued the loftiest matters of science, art and business, it was his serious devotion to the Middle East that connected him to us. He had a nuanced understanding of American engagement in the region during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and used his considerable wherewithal to improve that track record in ways large and small. When AMEU needed a broader focus on archaeology in the Middle East, John provided considered guidance; when new information arose regarding matters of international law, John shared vital insights and contacts. When AMEU needed to expand its reach to new audiences, he helped us close the distance. Our board members will remember when, not so long ago, a core sponsor abruptly pulled its support, confronting AMEU with the very real prospect of folding its tent. Without calling attention to himself, John raised his hand, and the lights on Riverside Drive stayed on.

John Goelet’s life was lived fully. While he is known for many things—the renowned cabernet sauvignon he and Henrietta brought to life at Clos du Val; his endless generosities to museum and university collections; his unique innovations in arid lands agriculture— at Americans for Middle East Understanding we will always know John Goelet for his devotion to learning and his commitment to deepening American appreciation for the culture and beauty of the Middle East.

He made us, and America, measurably better, and we are grateful to Henrietta Goelet and her family for sharing his remarkable acquaintance.

The Goelet family requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be sent to Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation:

Holy Family Hospital Foundation 2000 P Street NW #310

Washington DC 20036

Tel. 202-785-0801

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