Cameron Forbes Dies at 89; Boston Financier, Diplomat
W. Cameron Forbes, noted Boston financier and diplomat, died Thursday at the Hotel Vendome. He was 89.
He had been in poor health for several years.
Mr. Forbes’ chief diplomatic posts were as governor general of the Philippine Islands from 1909-1913 and as ambassador to Japan from 1930-1932.
He was graduated from Harvard in 1892, and returned there in 1897 and 1898 to coach varsity football. His 1898 team was undefeated.
Born in Milton May 21,1870, Mr. Forbes attended Milton Academy and Hopkinson’s School in Boston before enrolling at Harvard. His home was in Norwood until a few years ago, when he moved to the Vendome.
He was awarded three honorary doctorates of laws —by Harvard in 1912, by Trinity College in 1924, and by Bates College in 1932.
He became a partner of his family firm, J. M. Forbes & Co., merchants, in 1899. He was also director of a number of corporations, including American Telephone and Telegraph Co., the First National Bank of Boston, the Old Colony Trust Co., United Fruit Co., Commercial Credit Co. of Baltimore, Stone and Webster, Inc., the Massachusetts Fire and Marine Insurance Co., and the Neponset Investment Co.
He was past vice president of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Co., and a member of the corporation of Provident Institute for Savings.
Mr. Forbes had numerous responsibilities to educational institutions. He was overseer of Harvard University from 1914-1920; was a life member of the M.I.T. Corporation; a trustee of Hampton Institute and the Middlesex School, and chairman of the executive committee and chairman of the board of the Carnegie Institution.
He served the interests of the United States government in several foreign countries. He worked in the Philippine Islands from 1904 to 1913, the last four years as governor general; was receiver of the Brazil Railway, an internationally owned holding company from 1914-1920; was sent by President Hoover in 1930 to Haiti as chairman of a mission to review conditions; was Japanese ambassador from 1930-1 1932; and headed an economic mission to Japan in 1935 for the National Foreign Trade Council.
His affiliations included the Massachusetts Historical Society; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which he was a fellow; and the China Society of America of which he was honorary president.
Forbes published several books, including “The Romance of Business” in 1921, a historical study “The Philippines” in 1928, and a treatise on his favorite sport polo, “As to Polo,” in 1911. The latter
publication was translated into several languages.
He made four trips around the world, and many visits to Central America. He spent Summers at the family-owned island of Naushon off Woods Hole, and at a family ranch in Wyoming.
Social clubs included Union, Tavern, and Harvard Clubs of Boston, the Saturday Club of Boston, the Harvard Travellers. the Harvard Club of New York, the New York Yacht Club, India House of New York, and the Manila Polo Club.
His only immediate survivors are two brothers, Edward W., of Cambridge and Dr. Alexander Forbes of Milton.
Funeral services are planned for Monday. Details are incomplete.