Generosity is healthy

Brooke Astor, the white-gloved doyenne of New York society who gave away almost $200 million to feed the city's poor and nourish its cultural life, has died. She was 105.

She died today at her weekend estate in Briarcliff Manor, New York, according to the New York Times, which cited Kenneth E. Warner, a lawyer for Astor's son, Anthony D. Marshall.

She was the last of the American branch of the Astors, a family whose financial and social prestige was once synonymous with the wealth and power of the Rockefellers and the Morgans. The family's holdings at various times included the St. Regis Hotel, the Empire State Building's site and Newsweek magazine. One of the Astors died on the Titanic.

Brooke Astor (March 30, 1902 - August 13, 2007) was an American socialite and philanthropist who was the chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation, which had been established by her third husband. She was also a novelist and wrote two volumes of memoirs.

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