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Heiress Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon dies at 103

RICHMOND, Va. — Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a wealthy arts and fashion patron, friend of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and a political benefactor, died Monday. She was 103.

Mrs. Mellon's family and her attorney said she died of natural causes at her 4,000-acre Oak Spring Farms in Virginia's horse country, where she entertained royalty, stars and politicians.

She lived a closely guarded life dominated by the arts, fashion, horses, rare books and extraordinary gardens.

"She's a remarkable person," said her friend, interior designer Bryan Huffman of North Carolina. "The last standing true American aristocrat."

Her mother gave her the pet name "Bunny," which stuck with her throughout her life, he said.

Her grandfather Jordan Lambert created Listerine. Her father, Gerald Lambert, was president of the Gillette Safety Razor Co.

In 1932, she married Stacy Barcroft Lloyd Jr., a businessman and horse breeder. After their divorce, she married his friend and banking scion Paul Mellon — at the time, reportedly, the world's richest man. Paul Mellon died in 1999, at 91.

A self-taught botanist, Mrs. Mellon was tapped by her friend Jacqueline Kennedy to redesign the White House Rose Garden. At Mrs. Mellon's Virginia farm, her guests included two generations of British royalty.

As part of her political donations, she gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to presidential candidate John Edwards that he used to hide his mistress. Edwards later was acquitted on a charge of campaign finance violations. Mrs. Mellon was not accused of breaking any laws.

Huffman, who introduced Mrs. Mellon to Edwards, said he reminded her of John Kennedy.

Heiress Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon dies at 103 03/17/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 17, 2014 11:11pm]
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