By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer
Jean Pierre Francois Joseph Pineton, born of noble blood in Paris, fled the Nazi invasion and moved to Cincinnati during World War II. His title was Marquis de Chambrun, but he was also a direct descendent of the Queen City's original aristocracy.
When he died in Portugal on June 27, at age 101, the Marquis de Chambrun was the oldest living descendant of the Marquis de Lafayette. The French general who helped America achieve independence from Britain during the Revolutionary War was the Marquis de Chambrun's great-great-great grandfather.
The Marquis de Chambrun was the grandson of Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, the founder of Rookwood Pottery atop Mount Adams. As such, he was also the great-great grandson of Nicholas Longworth, one of Cincinnati's first millionaires. It was Longworth who transformed the Queen City's hills into vineyards, helping make Ohio the largest wine-producing state in America for several decades in the mid-1800s.
The Marquis de Chambrun was born in Paris in 1903 to Pierre, Marquis de Chambrun, and Margaret Rives Nichols, the daughter of Maria Longworth and George Ward Nichols. A childhood illness rendered him deaf at age 2 - but he learned to read, write, lip-read and speak fluent French, Italian and English. He also had a working knowledge of Portuguese and Spanish.
He attended the Institut Pasteur, where he studied biochemistry and conducted cancer research with Marie Curie. He also studied art at the Horace Vernet School and joined the Cercle de l'Union Artistique, a professional artists' association. His paintings were exhibited in Europe and in the United States, and he designed jewelry, wrought iron work and Baccarat crystal.
Disapproving of the Vichy regime in France, the Marquis de Chambrun brought his first wife, Gisele, and their three sons to Cincinnati in 1941. He possessed useful information about German gunboats, which he shared with U.S. Naval intelligence. The Enquirer reported in the 1940s that the family resided in Cincinnati for the duration of the war.
The marquis and his wife later divorced, and she returned with their children to France.
He then wed Murial Mackintosh Villar. Married for 42 years, they divided their time between a villa in Portugal and the United States, where they maintained an apartment in Washington, D.C.
They also kept a residence in Cincinnati, where they spent part of every year between 1964 and 1974. For several years, they lived at the Vernon Manor hotel in Clifton. Then they moved to an apartment at St. Ursula Academy in East Walnut Hills.
In 1976, during the U.S. Bicentennial, the Marquis de Chambrun and his wife traveled throughout the United States and Europe, lecturing on the Marquis de Lafayette and the American Revolution. The University of Cincinnati gave the marquis an honorary doctorate, and he was made an honorary board member of the Cincinnati Historical Society.
In addition to his wife, survivors include three sons, Charles the Comte de Chambrun (heir to the title marquis), Comte Jean Francois de Chambrun, and Comte Pierre Antoine de Chambrun.
The Marquis de Chambrun was interred July 9 at Cemetery of the Rue Piepus in Paris, near the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette. At the marquis' request, he was buried under soil brought from a plantation near Georgetown, S.C., where Lafayette spent his first night in America after landing there in 1777.
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