THOMASVILLE — The man who will lecture in Thomasville Saturday about the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor cultivated an endearing friendship with the duchess, according to a Thomasville resident.

Theresa Brown said the lecturer, Rene’ Silvin, researched the duchess’ life and wrote a book about her.

Brown, who has heard Silvin lecture about the couple, recalled the lecturer’s presentation that showed the duchess on a “Time Magazine” cover in the 1930s.

Brown said some Thomasville residents recall seeing the couple when they visited Thomasville friends. They visited a former Thomasville nursery and shopped at The Gift Shop in downtown Thomasville, she explained.

Brown heard Silvin’s lecture in Palm Beach, Florida, in January 2019. 

“Honestly, it was the best lecture ever,” she said.

The duchess, the former Wallis Simpson, an American socialite divorcee, and British King Edward VIII married in 1937, causing a constitutional crisis that ended in Edward’s abdication of the throne.

Born in Bay Shore, New York, Silvin grew up in Switzerland. After earning a bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University in 1970, and a MBA at Cornell in 1972, he spent 25 years in the investor-owner hospital industry. Silvin rose to the head of the International Division of American Medical International Inc. that owned and operated 35 hospitals in 10 countries.

Since retiring after surviving a late-stage cancer, Silvin, a Palm Beach resident, has published five books, including a memoir about his friendship with the late Duchess of Windsor, a history of Palm Beach as seen through the eyes of the famous society architect Addison Mizner, and a historical novel about the 1930s French line flagship, the SS Normandie.

As vice chairman of the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission, it was a natural progression to include the famous Mar-a-Lago in his collection of lectures. He has become an expert on the mansion’s origins, architecture and evolving history and the life and circumstances of Marjorie Merriweather Post, who created this fantasy. The lecture is constantly updated to include newsworthy events as they occur, now that Mar-a-Lago is the current Winter White House.

A reception and the lecture are at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Thomas University Flowers Auditorium. Tickets, which include the wine reception and lecture, are $25.

A $100 ticket includes the reception, lecture and dinner with Silvin at Glen Arven Country Club. Seating is limited.

The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, Jan. 23. Tickets may be purchased at www.thomasvillelandmarks.org.

Proceeds will support Thomasville History Center and Thomasville Landmarks.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Silvin will sign copies of his book — “NOBLISSE OBLIGE: The Duchess of Windsor” — at the Bookshelf in downtown Thomasville.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820 

Trending Video

Recommended for you