New York Philanthropist and Episcopalian Brooke Astor dies at 105

August 14, 2007

Brooke Astor, the civic leader and philanthropist who reportedly donated up to $200 million to support New York City's great cultural institutions, died in her Briarcliff Manor estate August 13. She was 105.

Astor's funeral was held August 17 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, in New York City.

According to the New York Times, the Rev. Andrew Mead, St. Thomas' rector, said that Astor "had been specifying things that she wanted for her service since before I got here, which was 11 years ago." Mead added that the funeral service would include some of Astor's favorite hymns.

The Rev. Canon Charles P. Pridemore, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ossining, New York, served as Astor's priest and friend and had brought her Holy Communion on most Sundays for the past two years, the Journal News reports.

Pridemore said he was with her a few minutes after she died. "She was surrounded by beautiful, fresh-cut flowers and the people who loved her most," he said.

Astor was chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation, named for her late husband who died in 1959. Despite liquidating the foundation in 1997, Astor continued to be active in New York's social life and charities such as Lighthouse for the Blind, the Maternity Center Association, the Astor Home for emotionally disturbed children, the International Rescue Committee, the Fresh Air Fund, and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Society of New York Hospital. The New York Public Library was one of Astor's favorite charities.

Astor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 in recognition of her charity work. One of Astor's favorite mottos was: "Money is like manure, it should be spread around."

Astor is survived by a son, Anthony, and twin grandsons, Philip and Alec.

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