Anna G. Vietor, 88, Was New York Philanthropist

Anna Glen Butler Vietor, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and longtime seasonal resident of Edgartown, died at her home in New York city Tuesday, Dec. 20, after a short illness. She was 88.

Mrs. Vietor first came to Martha's Vineyard after marrying Alexander O. Vietor of Edgartown and New York city in 1939. From that point on she spent more than 65 summers on the Vineyard, developing a deep fondness for the Island and becoming intimately involved in the community; she supported numerous Island institutions, among them the Martha's Vineyard Hospital and the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society. A longtime member of the Edgartown Yacht Club, she was deeply involved in all of the club's activities.

Nothing gave her more pleasure than to be on the Vineyard, surrounded by as many friends and family as possible. Like the whaling wives of old, she would wait patiently for her family to return home from their adventures on the Island's waters. She was a member also of the New York Yacht Club as well as a founder of New York Club's station Harbour Court in Newport.

A descendant of several of New York's oldest families, Mrs. Vietor was a noted philanthropist, with a particular interest in history, education, culture and beautification.

Born in 1917 in New York, Mrs. Vietor was the daughter of the late Arthur Wellman Butler, a vice president of the New York Stock Exchange, and the late Anna Robinson Butler, whose father, Dr. Beverley Robinson, founded St. Luke's Hospital in New York. She was predeceased by her husband, Alexander Orr Vietor, who was the curator of maps at Yale University, and by her daughter, Barbara Foster Vietor.

Mrs. Vietor grew up in New York city and was a member of the class of 1935 at Miss Chapin's School. She spent weekends on the family property in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., which has been preserved by The Nature Conservancy as the Butler Sanctuary. During her early years, Mrs. Vietor traveled all over the world with her parents, which included trips on most of the great oceanliners. As a result of those experiences, she developed a lifelong interest in promoting the history of the port of New York and became a founder of the Ocean Liner Museum. In 1937, Mrs. Vietor was presented at court to King George VI and Queen Mary.

In 1941, Mrs. Vietor and her husband moved to New Haven, Conn., where she raised seven children. After the death of her daughter, Barbara, she and her husband established a planting fund in her memory at Yale; they created a memorial garden adjoining Yale's Sterling Library and supported the planting of spring flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs throughout the Yale campus. She also created a tulip walk for the New York Botanical Garden, and funded the planting of tulips in the Central Park Conservancy Garden and the Park avenue malls in memory of her daughter.

She was devoted to her family, and was well known for her energy, generosity, zest for life and love of travel. In addition to organizing endless family activities and trips, she became an active volunteer for institutions such as the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the Foote School and the New Haven Garden Club, for which she established the Civic Planting Fund.

In 1978 she and her husband returned to New York. Upon his death in 1981, Mrs. Vietor turned her attention to The Acorn Foundation, the family foundation for which she served as president. During the next 24 years she worked with a wide variety of organizations and became one of New York's most active philanthropists.

A descendant of Peyton Randolph, president of the first Continental Congress, and Edmund Randolph, General George Washington's aide-de-camp and the first U.S. Attorney General, she had a passion for history, and supported patriotic societies such as the Colonial Dames of America, the National Society of Colonial Dames and the Daughters of the Cincinnati.

She also supported historical and cultural organizations such as the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Del., Historic Deerfield, Colonial Williamsburg, the Fine Arts Collection at the Department of State, the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Because her great-grandfather, Charles H. Marshall, co-founded in 1818 the Black Ball Line, the first packet ship line that sailed across the Atlantic on a regular schedule, she had a particular interest in maritime institutions. For example, she supported the South Street Seaport Museum, the Seaman's Church Institute, the Mystic Seaport Museum and the Peabody and Essex Museum in Salem, to which her husband's extensive collection of pre-1815 portraits of American ships were donated.

She was also very interested in institutions associated with the history of New York, such as the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Historical Society, Historic Hudson Valley and the Genealogical and Biographical Society. She continued her lifelong interest in gardening by supporting floral planting throughout New York city and its environs.

Since Mrs. Vietor's ancestral roots extended to pre-Colonial America, she focused many of her efforts on promoting the pre-Colonial Dutch period, which included serving as directress-general of the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames. She actively supported the Half Moon Project of the New Netherlands Museum, and produced an award-winning documentary entitled Under Two Flags that highlighted early Dutch and English history in the New World. In 1997, in recognition of her work in promoting and strengthening the historical bond between the United States and the Netherlands, Mrs. Vietor was awarded the Order of the Orange-Nassau by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. She is one of the few foreigners to have received that honor.

In addition to the 1998 Telly Award given to Under Two Flags, several other of the eight historical documentaries produced by the Acorn Foundation won awards, including the 2000 Technical Achievement Award for Washington in New York: From Disaster to Triumph, and the Silver Bell Award for New York is a Tall Ship from the Seaman's Church Institute. Because of her devotion to history and education, she donated the videos to schools and colleges all over the country, as well as to teachers and nonprofit institutions. She also established a partnership with the European-American Bank and Glencoe-McGraw-Hill to create and distribute a middle school curriculum designed to teach students about the history of New York.

Her education and outreach efforts included a luncheon lecture series called History Sandwiched In that gave historians and other well-known individuals an opportunity to speak about a variety of topics. Speakers included Jay Iselin, former head of Channel 13, the author and classical architectural authority Henry Hope Reed, and New York's former parks commissioner, Henry Stern, who bestowed upon her the park moniker Grand Tulip.

Mrs. Vietor's many accomplishments illustrated the power of her determination, enthusiasm and charm, and she was honored on numerous occasions. In 1996 she was given the National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America Award for "her genealogical, biographical and educational contributions to the history of America." In 2000 she was named New York Volunteer of the Year by the Conference of Patriotic and Historic Societies that saluted her for "exemplifying the finest tradition of volunteerism and philanthropy." Also in 2001 the Council of the City of New York issued a proclamation stating that she was a "great philanthropist and friend to the people of New York." In March 2003 she was asked by the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of Wall street. She has also received the Frederick Law Olmsted Medal from the Central Park Conservancy and the Edith Wharton Women of Achievement in Philanthropy Award.

Mrs. Vietor was a longstanding member of the Colony Club and held various leadership roles. She was also a member of the Union Club and the Yale Club, and belonged to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

She touched the lives of both the young and the old, and enjoyed life to the fullest. She was a role model for her friends and family, who will greatly miss her guidance and support. She is survived by her children, David B. Vietor of Edgartown, Richard R. Vietor of New York city, Anna Louise Vietor Oliver of Washington, D.C., Pauline Vietor Sheehan of New York, Alexander W. Vietor of Rye, N.Y., and Martha Vietor Glass of New York city, as well as by her 23 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York city on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has established the Anna Glen Butler Vietor Memorial Fund at The New York Community Trust. Contributions may be made to Community Funds, Inc. for the A.G.B. Vietor Fund, 909 Third avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022.