Remembering Caramoor’s Founders

This weekend one of Caramoor’s longtime employees had occasion to represent the organization at the April 29, 2017 Memorial Service for longtime Trustee William Kelly Simpson.

The service was at St. Matthew’s Episcopalian Church just down the road from Caramoor on Route 22. This 200+ year old church is now in its second location after being damaged/destroyed in its original incarnation in Mount Kisco, NY during the Revolutionary War. After the War, John Jay, one of the writers of the Federalist Papers and the first Chief Justice of the U.S., retired to Bedford and purchased acreage for the church. John Jay has a prominent pew, plaque, and presence in the chapel, and he and his family have a large plot in the cemetery. (This information was provided by the Rev. Terence Elsberry during his welcoming remarks.)

The church was filled with many friends, extended family including great-grandchildren, and associates of Kelly. The ‘old guard’ of Bedford was in full force, fully decked out in dark suits and lots of Yale ties, and black and blue dresses for the ladies. Interspersed with the readings and hymns, the Rev. Elsberry (who was quite helpful in outlining the service to those “non-Episcopalians with us today”), gave personal tributes to Kelly, going beyond what was in the Times notice. As fitting for a man who loved music, especially opera, there was some lovely organ music by Anthony Newman, the parish organist, and a wonderful soloist, Julie Dolphin, whose soprano soared above the congregation.

After the service, she did something she’d been meaning to do since her early days at Caramoor – go find the gravemarkers for the founders of Caramoor, Lucie and Walter Rosen. Due to FindAGrave information, she knew approximately what she was looking for, but not where. She ended up walking around most of the beautifully maintained cemetery, spying the impressive Jay family plot, familiar family names on many headstones, including some dear friends of Caramoor like James and Mary Robbins, observed how different families have created memorial markers and benches, and spent an unexpectedly early summer morning communing with nature.

 

She reports:

“I had basically given up on finding the Rosens on this trip, and as I exited the cemetery from a different spot where I entered, I saw a magnificent old pink magnolia tree in bloom. One of the features of this graveyard is that some of the families have landscaped semi-private garden rooms into an already tranquil spot. This old magnolia almost concealed the entrance to this secret garden spot. And yet, it was familiar. With the magnolia, cedar trees, hedges, and wrought iron garden furniture, the Rosen Family plot is like stepping on to Caramoor’s grounds. Lucie Bigelow Dodge Rosen and Walter Tower Rosen’s larger pink-hued stones, reminiscent of the estate’s stucco and tile colors, are looked over by a plinth dedicated to “Young” Flying Officer Walter Bigelow Rosen and his RCAF military service. At their feet, balancing out her brother’s marker, is the quatrefoil stone for Anne Bigelow Stern, Lucie and Walter’s daughter who was so instrumental in preserving their legacy – at Caramoor and beyond. There is another Walter in the family plot. Keeping company with his grandparents and mother, Anne’s son, actor Walter Rosen Scholz, was laid to rest next to his grandfather and near the marker for the uncle for whom he was named.

With the magnolia, cedar trees, hedges, and wrought iron garden furniture, the Rosen Family plot is like stepping on to Caramoor’s grounds.”

I owe these people a lot. I have learned so much about art, people, music, fundraising, and myself because of my association with Caramoor, which was established through their generosity and forethought. What a legacy. “Make good art” would have been a motto they appreciated.”

 

For more information about Lucie and Walter Rosen, their story, and the founding of Caramoor, please visit this section of the website: www.caramoor.org/about/history/

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church is located at 382 Cantitoe Street, Bedford, NY, 10506

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