View of the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Heights Promenade, NYC
View of the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Heights Promenade, NYC

Leston Laycock Havens, M.D. was born in 1924 in NYC. He grew up in Brooklyn Heights and frequently walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with his father who was a lawyer. His father was somewhat of an Anglophile, a wonderful speaker and when Havens was very young, read him “British Eloquence”. This consisted of speeches given in the House of Commons. Family members who lived in the same neighborhood were involved in music art and theater leading him to be exposed to the cultural richness of New York City. Later as a writer he found that his Uncle, the art historian, Lloyd Goodrich would prove to be a mentor. His dream was to become Clarence Darrow, Mayor of New York or run Bellevue Hospital. The fact that his mother founded the first-day care center for African American mothers on Long Island impacted his social conscience as well as the injustices he witnessed in courtroom visits with his father. His mother was British, so as tradition would have it, she sent him to boarding schools when he was very young, where he studied every subject offered. Finishing a year early he chose Williams College over Harvard. At Williams, he was influenced by the philosopher, John Miller and studied international affairs as well. Havens was expected to become a lawyer as his father and Uncle were. He was admitted to Yale Law School but watching surgery on Saipan at the end of the War and reading Freud and Hitler convinced him he needed to be a healer, researcher, and teacher. His maternal grandfather belonged to The Fabian Society, a British socialist organization whose purpose is to advance the principles of socialism via gradualism and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. Today, the society functions primarily as a think tank. During the 50′s and 60′s, Havens enjoyed his own think tank. He was part of frequent meetings with a group of friends who shared their own diverse opinions on American society. Reverend Michael Bloy a forward thinking theologian, M.I.T. Professor Donald Schön, a developer of theory and practice of reflective professional learning in organizations. A. R. Gurney, a playwright known for works portraying parts of American family life including “ The Cocktail Hour” and “The Dining Room”.

Although for more than 60 years he was busy being a physician, writer, teacher, spouse, father and later a grand father, Havens was an avid tennis player, who played all his life. He wrote poetry, read in their entirety, The New York and London Review of Books along with the daily New York Times, played chess, studied old battle plans, gardened, and frequently walked the Charles River path with friends and colleagues.