She was known as New YorkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“First Lady of Philanthropy,Ã¢â‚¬? 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 storyÃ¢â‚¬â€and the image of the abused centenarian, sleeping on a chilly, urine-soaked couchÃ¢â‚¬â€still stuck.
Prediction for 2008: Astor once said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I feel IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve become a public monument.Ã¢â‚¬? And to us she is, in more ways than one.
Adapted from Ã¢â‚¬Å“People of the Year,Ã¢â‚¬? InTown Westchester, December 2007
(Photo: Serge JF Levy/AP)