Partner James O. Bloss
Sterling Homestead, 2225 Main St, Stratford, CT 06615, Stati Uniti
Sterling House, 2283 Main St, Stratford, CT 06615, Stati Uniti
Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, Stati Uniti
Columbia University, 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10027, Stati Uniti
912 Fifth Avenue, 10021, NYC, NY, USA
21 W 25th St, New York, NY 10010, Stati Uniti
221 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017, Stati Uniti
Woodlawn Cemetery, E 233rd St & Webster Avenue, Bronx, NY 10470, Stati Uniti
John William Sterling (May 12, 1844 – July 5, 1918) was a founding partner of Shearman & Sterling LLP and major benefactor to Yale University.
John William Sterling was born in Stratford, Connecticut, the son of Catherine Tomlinson (Plant) and John William Sterling. He graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in 1864 and was a member of Skull and Bones and president of Brothers in Unity during his senior year. He graduated from Columbia Law School as the valedictorian of the class of 1867 and was admitted to the bar in that year. He obtained an M.A. degree in 1874. He became a corporate lawyer in New York City, and helped found the law firm of Shearman & Sterling in 1871, a firm that represented Jay Gould, Henry Ford, the Rockefeller family, and Standard Oil.
Yale University, New Haven, CT
On his death in 1918, Sterling left a residuary estate of $15 million to Yale, at the time the "largest sum of money ever donated to an institution of higher learning in history"—equivalent to about $200 million in 2011 dollars. After the estate appraisal was complete a year later, the Yale bequest was "about $18 million." He required Yale to fund "at least one enduring, useful and architecturally beautiful building, which will constitute a fitting Memorial of my gratitude to and affection for my alma mater" and "the foundation of Scholarships, Fellowships or Lectureships, the endowment of new professorships and the establishment of special funds for prizes"—these mandates led to the construction of the Sterling Memorial Library, Sterling Law Building, the Hall of Graduate Studies, and the Sterling Hall of Medicine, and the endowment of the Sterling Professorships.
Sterling never married. In 2003, historian Jonathan Ned Katz uncovered evidence that Sterling lived for nearly fifty years in a same-sex intimate partnership with cotton broker James O. Bloss.
Sterling died July 5, 1918 while staying at the fishing lodge of Lord Mount Stephen in Causapscal, Quebec; he is entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Sterling's sister Cordelia donated the Sterling House and its surrounding estate —part of the Sterling Homestead—to Stratford, Connecticut.