In Memoriam: Brook AstorToday marked the death of New York socialite and philanthropist, Brook Astor. Many of New York's venerable institutions such as the The New York Public Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and even the Bronx Zoo owe a debt of gratitude to the generosity of Mrs. Astor. Her contributions came at a time when many had given up on New York as crime soared and the city's coffers were near bankruptcy. She also made sizable donations to The Fresh Air Fund, charities for the blind and maternity care for inner-city women. Her husband, Vincent Astor, once joked that his wife would have a ball giving away his money after his death, and indeed all told Mrs. Astor gave away close to $200 million. She was quoted as saying "Money is like manure--it should be spread around."
Coincidentally, I met a friend of my sister's down in Asbury Park a couple weeks ago who served as Mrs. Astor's butler for a time while she was in her 90's. He had nothing but praise and kind words for her and said she treated every one of the staff with the utmost empathy and respect. Mrs. Astor was 105.