After serving his state and nation with distinction for thirty years, the former Chief Justice, Fred M. Vinson, left an estate of only $1,163 when he died. Although no one considered Vinson rich, the size of his estate shocked statemen and others in Washington, D.C.
Senator Walter F. George, of Georgia, was moved to reflect:
"The man who gives his whole life to public service gives little to his family. That is true of all men in America who are dedicated to public service rather than service to themselves."
The jurist's estate—filed in probate court—listed his assets at $7,163, including his car, personal jewelry, some cash, a few government bonds, and even his law books. Against this were debts totaling $6,000, leaving a net worth of only $1,163.
Although Vinson was head of the Supreme Court, highest tribunal in the land, the two wills he left behind were ruled invalid. One, which he wrote in longhand in 1928 when he was a congressman, was not witnessed. The second, dated in 1930, might have been valid but the signatures of the witnesses had been torn off.
In the final paragraph of the first will, Vinson wrote a kind of epitaph for himself. "I pass from the state of life with no regrets as far as any wrongdoing is concerned," he said. "I confide my soul to my Maker's care in the firm belief that He will pronounce me pure of heart entitled by my life, my love and respect for Him to partake of the reward which He has awaiting us."
Vinson died of a heart attack after a lifetime of government service—in city and state positions in Kentucky, high posts in the federal government, Congress, and finally the Supreme Court. As Chief Justice he received a salary of $15,500 a year.
In Lausanne, Switzerland, Alfred Cortot died ot the age of 85. He was a pupil of Ravel and performing partner of such greats as Casals and Thiband.
Mr. Cortot's conducting and performing mainly encompassed the works of three eras—the classical of Beethoven, the romantic exemplified by his direction of Wagnerian opera at the behest of Richard Wagner's widow, and the modern.
Swiss born of French parents, Mr. Cortot was director of the Ecole Normale de Musique of Paris. He wrote several books on composers such as Chopin, Schumann and Liszt, and was himself considered a great stylist.
Since 1896, he had given some six thousand concerts all over the world, either as conductor or as piano soloist. He made many lecture tours, wrote innumerable articles in the world's musical journals and magazines and researched the work of many famous composers.
He was a student of the Paris Conservatory where he later received an honoary professorship. He was also named director of the Chorus of Bayreuth in Germany. There Mrs. Wagner entrusted to the young man the direction of Wagner's Goetter-daemmerung and Tristan and Isolde in 1902.
Mr. Cortot had difficulties with the French government after the World War II liberation. During the war, he was a member of the so-called National Council, a sort of cultural organization in the Vichy regime, and president of the Committee of the Professional Organization of Music.
He was barred from appearance in public in France. It was then that he established residence in Lausanne. But despite his political troubles, he was a commander in the Legion of Honor.
After the war, Mr. Cortot admitted having played for the Nazis but he said he did so only because it permitted him to play in Allied prison camps. His postwar ban in France was for two years, but when he tried to make a comeback in 1947 in Paris, the orchestra refused to accompany him.
Troubles and triumphs were his. In the memory of many who heard him play, he still lives—as music lives amid discords.
In the great beyond, if Cortot had faith in Jesus, there is coronation for Cortot from Christ.