MOUNT DESERT (AP) – Brooke Astor, the late philanthropist and grande dame of New York society, left behind money for a variety of causes on Mount Desert Island, where she vacationed at her seasonal Cove End estate in Northeast Harbor.

Astor, whose funeral was Friday in Manhattan, gave away more than $200 million before her death. When she died Monday at age 105, she left behind a personal fortune reportedly worth about $130 million and a trust valued at $60 million.

Although much of her contributions went to New York organizations, she also remembered many Maine organizations. And she did so in her will, as well.

The Asticou Azalea Garden stands to receive $100,000, the Northeast Harbor Library is in line for $50,000, and $25,000 is earmarked for Saint Mary’s and Saint Jude’s Parish, the Bangor Daily News reported. Astor also named College of the Atlantic in her will, though she did not list a specific dollar amount.

Robert Pyle, director of the library, said he was not surprised to learn that Astor left money to his organization. Pyle noted that Astor, a library trustee for 27 years, twice gave the library $100,000 for educational programs.

The Rev. William J. Wood of St. Mary’s and St. Jude’s Episcopal Parish said Astor used to sit in the front row while attending church. Astor, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, had not been to Maine for the past several years.

Astor, a life member of the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve’s board, pledged the money to the azalea garden’s endowment during a capital campaign a few years ago. The group owns and operates Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden in Northeast Harbor.

As for the College of the Atlantic, it is to receive “1 percent” of part of Astor’s estate “to establish an endowment fund, the income of which is to be used to assist needy students from the State of Maine,” her will indicated.

“We are delighted to think that Mrs. Astor remembered COA in her estate plans, and especially that she has thought to help students from Maine come to COA,” COA President David Hales said in a statement.

Questions are expected to arise in Westchester County Surrogate Court over changes made to Astor’s will in early 2003 and late 2004. But those changes do not appear to affect any of Astor’s donations to Maine organizations.


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