People of the Year — 5. Brooke Astor

itw_people31.jpgShe was known as New York’s “First Lady of Philanthropy,� a Gilded Age holdover who donated her inherited millions to every worthy organization she could find: museums, libraries, churches, landmarks, and so on. On August 13, at the age of 105, she died at her weekend estate in Briarcliff Manor. Sadly, though, in her final year of life, Astor made headlines not for charity work, but because of accusations that her son, Anthony Marshall, was neglecting her care and leeching her fortune. The matter was settled out of court, but the story—and the image of the abused centenarian, sleeping on a chilly, urine-soaked couch—still stuck.

Prediction for 2008: Astor once said, “I feel I’ve become a public monument.� And to us she is, in more ways than one.

Adapted from “People of the Year,� InTown Westchester, December 2007

(Photo: Serge JF Levy/AP)

Ted Mann

Ted Mann aspires to join Stephen Baldwin’s Breakthrough Ministry, more commonly known as “skateboarding for the savior." Before becoming a Senior Editor at InTown, he worked at The Atlantic Monthly, the Philadelphia City Paper, and the University of Pennsylvania Press. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Press, and The Pennsylvania Gazette.