J. D. "Sandy" McClatchy - Anything But Ashes

Almost a year has passed since esteemed American poet and beloved Stonington Borough resident J. D. “Sandy” McClatchy died, but his legacy will live on — in his work, friends, loved ones, and the treasures he collected and left behind. 


His beautiful Borough home, featured in Connecticut Cottages & Garden in 2006, sold through local realtor Henri Gourd of Berkshire Hathaway. The disbursement of the estate was managed and thoughtfully allocated by Deborah Norman and Karen von Ruffer Hills from Grand & Water too (a redesign and staging spinoff of Grand & Water Antiques) which included a vast collection of rare and unique books, decorative arts and antique furniture.


The Stonington Free Library was one of the fortunate beneficiaries. It has recently announced the addition of The J. D. McClatchy Memorial Corner — a unique collection of books representing a life-long devotion to poetry, arts and letters, scholarship and music — a generous gift from the estate and McClatchy’s husband Chip Kidd. According to the announcement from the Stonington Free Library, “It is a mirror of an extraordinary creative mind and serves as a lasting memorial to our distinguished neighbor and friend.” 

Papers from McClatchy’s collection now reside at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, whose collection also includes a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. His connections to Yale were extensive. Among other things, McClatchy was editor of the Yale Review, fellow of Jonathan Edwards College, and professor of poetry in the Department of English. He was tireless in his support of Beinecke Library, helping to build their collection of James Merrill’s papers and encourage many writers to place their archives there.

McClatchy was a dear friend of James Merrill (another Stonington Borough resident and celebrated American poet) and after Merrill’s death in 1995, he became co-executor of his estate. Merrill left the contents of his house to McClatchy and it seems only fitting that those things are finally returning back home to the James Merrill House, a place that still nurtures and preserves great American poets and their work.


Langdon Hammer interviews Sandy McClatchy about American Poet James Merrill.


J. D. “Sandy” McClatchy is buried at Stonington Cemetery. In his poem “My Plot”, featured in the New Yorker in January of 2018, he wrote:

“I signed up for a double bed, the gruff
Six inches above an adamant rockledge here
That doesn’t allow for anything but ashes —
Yours and mine,
I trust.”