Draft:Richard René Silvin

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- Richard René Silvin (born May 16, 1948) is a retired corporate executive, turned American Author and Lecturer, who is best known as an expert on the Duchess of Windsor, architect Addison Mizner, and the SS Normandie.


Richard René Silvin  in 2015 at University lecture

Silvin was born in Bay Shore, New York to an American mother and a French father. His father, Jean Leon Silvin, was heir to a paper factory in Lyon, France, several aluminum plants in New Jersey and Kentucky. He was sent to America by his father to oversee the US operations in New York City where he met and married Nancy Torroco. They lived on Long Island and in Lyon, France, and eventually had two sons: John Jacques (1943 – 2013) and Richard René Silvin.

During the first six years of his life Silvin spent most of his time in Islip, Long Island, NY living with a nanny, Mary "Nonnie" Lee, while his parents were mostly in France. At age seven he went to Swiss boarding schools; first to La Clairière in Villars-Sur-Ollon (1955 – 1958), Switzerland, and then to Institut Le Rosey in Rolle and Gstaad, Switzerland, (1955- 1966) At Le Rosey, Silvin both rowed and coached the rowing team, which went on to become National Swiss Champions in 1966, a feat no school had ever achieved.


Silvin moved back to the United States to attend College. He earned a BS from Georgetown University in 1970, and an MBA in both Business and Hospital Administration from Cornell University in 1972. He worked at Friesen International, a hospital design and management consulting firm in Washington, DC from 1972 until it was acquired by American Medical International, Inc. (NYSE: AMI) in 1976. He rose to the head of the international division of AMI, which owned and operated thirty hospitals in ten foreign countries.

When Friesen International was hired to run the famous American Hospital of Paris, he met Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor. Silvin worked for AMI until 1988, after which he freelanced for 10 years, providing services to several hospital corporations. After surviving cancer he retired from the hospital industry.


Silvin was married to Mary Jane Friesen in 1970 at the Washington National Cathedral by Dean Francis Sayer, President Woodrow Wilson's grandson. They had one daughter, Alexi Nicole in 1974. Silvin divorced in 1976 and came out as gay. He met his first partner, Tim Bojrab, in 1982 in Los Angeles. Bojrab died in 1989 from complications related to AIDS. Later that year, Silvin met Doctor Robert Mann, who became his next partner. Both Silvin and Mann developed Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Silvin survived the cancer after extensive chemotherapy, but Mann died in 1998. Silvin met Robert Versteeg in 2012 who became his partner in 2014.


After retiring from the hospital industry in 1998, Silvin started writing. He published "I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools-An Arc To Triumph" in 2006. The book received notoriety among Le Rosey Alumni. Silvin's second book, "Walking the Rainbow-An Arc To Triumph" was published in 2008, and it continued Silvin's autobiographical approach to writing, chronicling the AIDS crisis. Silvin's third book, which was also partially autobiographical: "Noblesse Oblige-The Duchess of Windsor As I Knew Her", was published in 2010. This book combines Silvin's own encounters with the widowed Duchess, with the history of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. In 2014 Silvin published his first coffee table book: "Villa Mizner-The House That Changed Palm Beach". The book explores the life and work of architect Addison Mizner, who was responsible for creating the Mediterranean Revival look in South Florida. He built thirty-eight mansions in Palm Beach, Florida, in the 1920s.

Silvin and Versteeg founded Silvin Books LLC in 2015, a full service publishing company, and released a second coffee table book in 2016. "Normandie-The Tragic Story of The Most Majestic Ocean Liner" details the building of the 1930's flagship of the French Line, its 4 year active working life and its sinking in New York City in 1942, shortly after the United Sates entered the conflict.


Silvin started lecturing about the Duchess of Windsor in 2010, after the release of his third book. He increased his lecture opportunities when he added Addison Mizner's life and work to his oeuvre of lecture topics in 2014. He was able to expand again when the Normandie book was released and he added this topic to his lecture series. He has lectured at several Universities, as well as many venues in Key West, Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Newport, Rhode Island; and in North Carolina.


I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools-An Arc To Triumph, 2006, ISBN: 0-9764052-9-6.

Walking the Rainbow-An Arc To Triumph, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-87426-073-1

Noblesse Oblige-The Duchess of Windsor As I Knew Her, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-615-50578-7.

Villa Mizner-The House That Changed Palm Beach, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-884886-74-4.

Normandie-The Tragic Story of The Most Majestic Ocean Liner, 2016, ISBN: 978-0-692-54560-7.


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