Lawyer, photographer, writer and civic leader Cheever Tyler died on Friday, August 23rd, 2019. He was 81 years old. Born on October 6th, 1937 in Los Angeles, Tyler grew up in California, attending the Town School in San Francisco and later the Cate School in Santa Barbara. He graduated from Yale University in 1959, where he was the business manager of the Yale Daily News. He subsequently served two years in the U.S. Navy, before receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan and beginning his career at the law firm of Wiggin & Dana in New Haven. Tyler spent 30 years at Wiggin & Dana before retiring as a senior partner in 1994 to found Non-Profit Strategies and The Partnership for Connecticut Cities, both of which were designed to educate corporate and private donors on the needs of cities, as well as to provide fundraising and strategic planning programs for cultural and civic institutions. Known widely as “Mr. New Haven,” Tyler was a devoted supporter of the arts and community during his nearly 60 years in the city. A charismatic leader and strategic thinker, he served as the president of multiple boards, including the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater New Haven, New Haven Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, Elm Shakespeare Company, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, New Haven County Bar Association and Mory’s. Tyler was an active member on many other boards as well, such as the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Bank of New Haven and the Mark Twain House and Museum. Most notably, Tyler served as President of the Shubert Performing Arts Center for eight years, steering the theater out of debt and leading an endowment campaign that allowed the theater to become self supporting. Tyler served with distinction on the board of the University of New Haven, which in 1988 presented him with the President's Award in recognition of exemplary life achievement and extraordinary civic contribution. In 1989 the University also awarded Tyler with a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoring him as “a dynamic force in the improvement of the human condition at all levels in New Haven.” In his decades as a citizen of New Haven, Tyler received numerous awards for his contributions to the community, and in 2013 The New Haven Register recognized Tyler as one of the 125 Most Influential People in Connecticut History. Always a creative spirit, Tyler never stopped collaborating with the city's artists, publishing several projects that showcased them and their work, including the deck of cards “Handful of Art;” as well as the books “Artists Next Door;" “Portraits of an Orchestra,” featuring members of New Haven Symphony Orchestra; and “The Shubert Murals, Broadway in the Basement,” documenting the murals at the theater, all of which Tyler photographed himself. Tyler also published books of his own photographs and poetry, the best known of which were “Our Brothers and Sisters,” a collection of his personal black and white photography from the 60s and 70s, as well as “Vineyard Passages” and “Postcards from the Vineyard,” both of which capture his love of Martha’s Vineyard and the time he spent there with family and friends. He was well known for his exuberant personality, wide smile and unending enthusiasm for people and their accomplishments. At the end of every performance at the Shubert Theater, Tyler was always the first to his feet, shouting “Bravo!” or “Brava!” Once when he referred to someone as a “great guy,” a friend nearby said, “Does he know anyone who is not a great guy?” His sense of fun was infectious and his sense of humor legendary. His laugh was always the boldest and brightest in the room and it will be forever missed. Tyler is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sally, six children (Pierce, John, Haven, Nathan, Katherine, and Sara), nine grandchildren and his sister Zora Edwards of Berkeley, CA.
Services will be held on Saturday, September 14th at 10:30am at Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven.
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