Commencement 2011/Reunion 1961

David H. Souter, Supreme Court Justice
Caroline M. McKay
Harvard Crimson

As R. Eden Martin remembers it, he and future Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter ’61 would spend evenings sparking a fire, drinking from a bottle of cheap scotch whiskey, and discussing life.

Martin and Souter—both Harvard Law School students and freshman proctors at the time—lived side-by-side in Straus Hall A and B entryways, respectively.

Despite Souter’s many prominent legal positions throughout his career, culminating in his appointment to the nation’s highest court, friends and colleagues say that Souter’s quiet intellect, warm demeanor, and tendency to keep his life private have remained consistent since his freshman year at Harvard—and even since his high school years in New Hampshire.


As a student at Concord High School, Souter had a reputation for reading every book in the public library. Every day after school, the young Souter spent hours at the library while waiting for his father—who worked at a bank in Concord—before they both made the commute back to their home in Weare, N.H.

“He was clearly the smartest kid that had passed through the high school in a long time,” says Harris A. Berman ’60, a fellow Concord High and Harvard graduate. During college, Berman often gave Souter rides back to Concord.

Berman took an English class with Souter at Concord High and said Souter enjoyed finding the fine points in each lesson and partaking in class debates.

“He spiced up the class just because he was so smart,” Berman says.

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