American philanthropist Brooke Astor dies at 105

Monday, August 13, 2007

Brooke Astor, American socialite and philanthropist who was the chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation died today at the age of 105. The cause of death was announced by Kenneth Warner, her estate legal council, as Pneumonia.

Astor was born Roberta Brooke Russell on March 30, 1902 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA.

Her father, who retired as a major general, ended his military career as sixteenth commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Because of her father's career, she spent much of her childhood living in China, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

She briefly attended The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia in 1919, but eventually graduated from the Holton-Arms School in Washington, D.C..

"Worst years of my life" was how Astor described her tumultuous first marriage to John Dryden Kuser, which was punctuated by her husband's physical abuse, alcoholism and adultery. During this marriage, Brooke gave birth to her only child, then Anthony Dryden Kuser. (Anthony would later change his name to Anthony Dryden Marshall.) At Mr. Kuser's insistence, Brooke filed for divorce on February 15, 1930.

Astor is survived by her son, Anthony Dryden Marshall.