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Alexander M. Laughlin, 98

Thu, 10/26/2023 - 09:15

April 7, 1925 - Oct. 4, 2023

Alexander Mellon Laughlin, 98, a retired investment adviser who had been a chairman of the board of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., died on Oct. 4 at his East Hampton house overlooking Hook Pond. He was surrounded by loved ones, his family wrote.

Mr. Laughlin was an art collector who, with his wife, the late Judith Walker Laughlin, was a partner at the Coe Kerr Gallery in New York City. His relationship with the National Gallery spanned decades and was “filled with travel and learning,” according to his family.

He was also a member of the board of trustees of the Boys’ Club of New York for many years, chairman of the Laughlin Memorial Library in Pennsylvania, a treasurer and trustee of the Laughlin Children’s Center outside Pittsburgh, a treasurer of the Helen Keller Foundation, and a member of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Mr. Laughlin was born in Pittsburgh on April 7, 1925, the son of Alexander Laughlin Jr. and the former Margaret Mellon Hitchcock. His stepfather was Thomas Hitchcock Jr. He attended the Buckley School, Aiken Preparatory School, St. Paul’s School, Yale University, and Harvard Business School. During World War II he served in the European Theater with the Army Air Forces from August 1943 to February 1946.

He and Judith Walker, whom he had met in East Hampton two weeks before he entered the service, according to her obituary, were married in New York City on June 20, 1947.

Following Harvard Business School, Mr. Laughlin started his professional career with the Gulf Oil Corporation, co-founded by his grandfather William Larimer Mellon. He began his Wall Street career as an owner and chairman of Jesup & Lamont, an international brokerage firm based in New York. Later in his career he joined the firms of Tucker Anthony and Deltec Asset Management.

The Laughlins split their time among houses in East Hampton, Locust Valley, Manhattan, and Hog Island (now Paradise Island) and Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. They were frequent entertainers, bringing together people of all ages in conversation, his family said.

Mr. Laughlin’s love of the Bahamas began at an early age, while fishing there with his grandfather in the 1930s. He later built a house on Hog Island and was an active member of the Porcupine Club there. In the 1970s he moved to Lyford Cay, where he became a founding member and later a chairman of the Lyford Cay Club. “Nothing made him happier than enjoying a morning swim in Clifton Bay,” his family said.

One of his favorite destinations was Lake Muskoka in Ontario, where he spent time at his family’s summer camp. He was a skilled sportsman and over the course of 50 years he and his wife traveled to Quebec for the annual running of the Atlantic salmon on the Moisie River. In the summers he would travel west with his family to a ranch on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park. He was a member of the Long Point Company on the north shore of Lake Erie in Ontario, where he enjoyed duck hunting every fall.

In East Hampton he was a member of the Maidstone Club, where he served as president and where his family enjoyed the feeling of community and playing golf throughout the year.

Mrs. Laughlin died in 2020. He is survived by his children, Nina Laughlin Bottomley of North Hampton, N.H., and her husband, John, and David Walker Laughlin of Palm Beach, Fla., and his wife, Brooke, and by a daughter-in-law, Mary Laughlin. He is also survived by six grandchildren, Lisa Bottomley, Tim Bottomley, Alixe Peek, Alexander Laughlin III, Serena Laughlin, and Julia Laughlin, and two great-grandchildren, Wyatt Bottomley and Lyle Bottomley. Three siblings also survive: Louise Stephaich, Peggy Hitchcock, and William M. Hitchcock.

His son Alexander Mellon Laughlin Jr. died before him, as did a half brother, Thomas Hitchcock III.

“He will be remembered for his calm demeanor, dapper dress, and as being a true gentleman,” his family wrote. They plan a private burial service next month and a celebration of life in the spring.

 

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