Born in 1924, William Sloane Coffin, Jr.'s young life of wealth and comfort was suddenly rearranged by the death of his father in 1933. A series of moves led mother and children first to California and then to Europe. As a boy, Coffin's first ambition was to be a concert pianist. In Paris he was able to study with Nadia Boulanger and later in Geneva met Ignacy Paderewski.
When World War II erupted, the family returned to the United States, and Coffin attended Phillips Academy in Andover, graduating into an army uniform. As an officer he used his linguistic skills in intelligence work. After