Ailsa Mellon Bruce
Ailsa Mellon Bruce was a philanthropist and patron of the arts. In 1940, she established the Avalon Foundation, which made grants to colleges and universities, medical schools and hospitals, youth programs and community services, churches, environmental projects, and an array of cultural and arts organizations. From its creation through the end of 1968, Avalon appropriated more than $67 million, with a significant portion of its giving in support of organizations in the New York area, including a grant for the creation of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In 1969, the assets of Paul Mellon's Old Dominion Foundation were merged into those of the Avalon Foundation, which was renamed The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in memory of their father.
Mrs. Bruce was born in Pittsburgh, and attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. She served as her father's official hostess when he was Secretary of the Treasury (1921-32) and ambassador to the Court of St. James. In 1926, she married David K. Bruce. They were divorced in 1945. Their daughter, Audrey, and Audrey's husband, Stephen Currier, died tragically in a plane crash in 1967. Mrs. Bruce died on August 25, 1969.
In addition to the work of Avalon, Mrs. Bruce made major contributions to the Hampton National Historic Site in Maryland and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.