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Rousmaniere, sail enthusiast, dies at 86

James A. Rousmaniere, a former top-ranked sailor, and a leader in junior and inter-collegiate sailing for more than six decades, died Oct. 22, in Southbury, Conn., at the age of 86.

He was influential in Long Island Sound junior sailing, the Blue Jay Class and the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association, for which he headed the Afterguard. He raised money and established the ICSA Archives at Mystic Seaport. The ICSA in 2001 awarded him its Lifetime Service Award.

With a crew that included his Harvard roommate John F. Kennedy, Rousmaniere was part of the team that won the 1938 intercollegiate championship.

He was said to have an infectious enthusiasm for the sport and inspired many generations of sailors, including sons Arthur (Snipe champion) and John (sailor, author and America’s Cup historian).

Born Aug. 2, 1918, in Manhattan, James Rousmaniere graduated from Harvard in 1940 and from Harvard Law School in 1947. He was a professional fund-raiser and a volunteer community activist. He helped organize development campaigns for the United Negro College Fund, the Museum of Modern Art, the Episcopal Church, Harvard and other organizations.

Rousmaniere’s father, John, was a textile manufacturer and, later, the mayor of Oyster Bay.

James Rousmaniere is survived by his wife, the former Jessie Pierce; a sister; eight children; 15 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Contributions may be made in Rousmaniere’s name to the ICSA College Sailing Hall of Fame, Robert Crown Center, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD 21402.