Gertrude Ellen DuPuy “Gertie” <I>Sanford</I> Legendre

Gertrude Ellen DuPuy “Gertie” Sanford Legendre

Birth
Aiken, Aiken County, South Carolina, USA
Death 8 Mar 2000 (aged 97)
Goose Creek, Berkeley County, South Carolina, USA
Burial Berkeley County, South Carolina, USA
Plot The marker is near the main house, next to husband Sidney's grave.
Memorial ID 124818785 · View Source
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Gertrude Sanford Legendre, conservationist, dies at 97

Conservationist and philanthropist Gertrude Sanford Legendre died Wednesday at 97 at her Medway Plantation home in Berkeley County.

She is remembered for her around-the-world expeditions to collect flora and fauna for museums, her gracious manner and her commitment to conservation.

Mrs. Legendre has protected the 6,800-acre property and 1704 house at Medway through conservation easements and an environmental trust that will manage the land and teach conservation.

"She was a trend-setter," said Robert Hortman, who has managed Medway for 22 years. "She was cut from a different cloth."

In the 1920s and 1930s, she hunted big game in Africa, where many people had never seen a white woman, Hortman said. She fell in the Himalayas and broke her collar bone but refused to turn back then or from any of her primitive trips to collect plants and animals for the Smithsonian Institution and other museums.

"Her death, or new beginning, really represents the passing of an era," said Charles Duell, longtime friend and president of Middleton Place Foundation. "She lived with such elegance, sensitivity and style.

"She was certainly a heroine of mine, and so many people admired her stewardship, leadership and sharing. ... She is truly a great lady who will be irreplaceable in the lives of many of us."

She gave so much to philanthropic causes, said Virginia Beach, author of the 1999 book "Medway" on Mrs. Legendre 's land and home, the oldest masonry house still standing in this state.

"She was a great conservationist and great American in her optimism that people can make a difference," said Beach, recounting the letters that Legendre wrote into her 90s on environmental issues.

Said longtime friend and Charleston resident Johnny Small, "Wherever she landed, she made an impression. She was a very special person and had an impact."

When she walked into the room, she caught everyone's attention, he said, and made everyone she talked to feel she was trying to bring out the best in them. She always did, he added.

"She had millions and millions of friends who loved her," said daughter Bokara Legendre . "She had a great life, and she was having the time of her life."

"The Time of My Life" is the title of her 1987 autobiography, which chronicles her life beginning on March 29, 1902, in Aiken, the daughter of John and Ethel Sanford.

Growing up in Amsterdam, N.Y. and later New York City, she had her choice on her 16th birthday of making her debut or going big game hunting in Wyoming with her uncle.

She went hunting.

"That started her on her life," said Hortman.

Her hunting and collecting expeditions took her to Iran, India, Indochina, the South Pacific and back to Africa in the days that people had no means other than museums to see the wildlife of the world.

She brought home plant and animal specimens for National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Yale University, Harvard's Peabody Museum and others. In fact, she provided the mountain nyalas still seen in the American Museum of Natural History diorama in New York.

She and husband-to-be Sidney Legendre fell in love during a big game hunting trip to Africa in 1927 and 1928. They married, purchased Medway in 1929, restored the house and made it their home.

During World War II, her late husband served in the Navy while she joined the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. Captured, she spent several months as a German prisoner of war.

"Even as a prisoner, she made friends," said Doris Walters, Mrs. Legendre 's administrative assistant at Medway for 36 years. "That says a lot about her."

Mrs. Legendre helped one former guard immigrate to this country, and until her death, corresponded with a woman guard.

Deeply aware of the devastation in France, after the war Mrs. Legendre formed the Medway Plan. It provided medical supplies and other war relief in France and, for years after, medical supplies in the face of disaster in other countries.

She built the Promised Land School at Medway for local black children who had no school and supplied a hot lunch each day, Walters recalls.

Mrs. Legendre visited and became friends with a wide range of people, including Albert Schweitzer and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. Her parties, Duell recalls, brought together diverse people to promote an exchange of views.

Meanwhile, her own views were evolving from hunting to a love of nature, then a broader love of being outdoors and ultimately a desire to ensure that the natural outdoors survives for future generations, Hortman explained.

Her life's goal became to ensure a natural future for Medway, Hortman said. He recalls her saying, "I just want a place for the beasts to grow old and die."

In 1991, she gave the Historic Charleston Foundation a conservation easement on the main house and other plantation buildings and granted Wetlands America Trust a conservation easement on more than 6,000 acres of former ricefields, bottomland swamp, longleaf pine woods and loblolly pine. The land forever will remain natural or be used in traditional ways such as hunting, fishing and enjoying nature, Hortman said.

Mrs. Legendre established the Medway Environmental Trust to run the property and to educate the public about conservation; daughter Bokara Legendre will head the board.

The trust will expand into environmental and cultural issues, Hortman said.

A strong supporter of the arts, Mrs. Legendre helped bring about several revivals of "Porgy and Bess." She was active in or served on the board of such groups as the Gibbes Museum, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League and the Lowcountry Open Land Trust.

She is survived by daughters Landine Manigault of Stonington, Conn., and Bokara Legendre of New York City and Mill Valley, Calif., and four grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Sunday.

Published in the March 10, 2000 edition of the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier
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Here is the Wikipedia article about the Medway Plantation where Ms. Legendre lived from ca. 1930 until her death in 2000. Another interesting article was published by the New York Times in 2011. And here is a yet another.
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1910 United States Federal Census

Name: Gertrude Sanford
Age in 1910: 6
Birth Year: abt 1904
Birthplace: New York
Home in 1910: Amsterdam Ward 3, Montgomery, New York

Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Granddaughter
Marital status: Single
Father's Birthplace: New York
Mother's Name: Ethel Sanford
Mother's Birthplace: Belgium
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Stephan Sanford 83
John Sanford 50
Ethel Sanford 35
Stephan Sanford 11
Sarah J Sanford 8
Gertrude Sanford 6
Jaies Delornez 49
Martha Fink 36
Wallis Treuliellb 26
Mary Eschree 27
Malilda Packto 22
Margaret Whelean 43


New York, State Census, 1915

Name: Gertrude E Sanford
Birth Year: abt 1902
Birth Place: United States
Age: 13
Gender: Female
Residence Place: Amsterdam Ward 03, Montgomery
Relationship: Daughter
Color or Race: White
Number of Years in US: 13
Assembly District: 01
House Number: 61
Line Number: 45
Page Number: 62
Household Members: Name Age
John Sanford 64
Ethel Sanford 41
Stephen Sanford 16
Sarah J Sanford 14
Gertrude E Sanford 13


New York, State Census, 1915

Name: Gertrude Sanford
Birth Year: abt 1903
Birth Place: United States
Age: 12
Gender: Female
Residence Place: New York, New York
Relationship: Daughter
Color or Race: White
Number of Years in US: 12
Assembly District: 27
House Number: 15
Line Number: 19
Page Number: 09
Household Members: Name Age
John Sanford 60
Ethel Sanford 40
Jane Sanford 14
Gertrude Sanford 12
Stephen Sanford 17
James Frail 36
William Mc Donald 27
William Fairgrieve 24
Margaret White 25
Flora Mc Cullum 40
Ellen Olsen 25
Emmet Franken 35


1920 United States Federal Census

Name: Gertrude Sanford
Age: 17
Birth Year: abt 1903
Birthplace: New York
Home in 1920: Manhattan Assembly District 15, New York, New York
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Marital status: Single
Father's Name: John Sanford
Father's Birthplace: New York
Mother's Name: J Sanford
Mother's Birthplace: New York
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
John Sanford 69
J Sanford 45
Stephen Sanford 22
Fannie Sanford 19
Gertrude Sanford 17
[other names redacted]


U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Name: Gertrude Sanford
Birth Date: 28 Mar 1902
Birth Place: Aiken, South Carolina

Age: 18
Gender: Male
Passport Issue Date: 8 Jun 1920
Passport Includes a Photo: Yes
Residence: New York City, New York
Father Name: John Sanford
Father's Birth Location: New York
Father's Residence: New York City, New York
Spouse Name: Gertrude Gertrude


U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Name: Gertrude Sanford
Birth Date: 28 Mar 1902
Birth Place: Aiken, South Carolina

Age: 21
Passport Issue Date: 16 Feb 1924
Passport Includes a Photo: Yes
Residence: Amsterdam, New York
Father Name: John Sanford
Father's Birth Location: Amsterdam New York
Father's Residence: Amsterdam New York


1930 United States Federal Census

Name: Gertrude Legenhe
[Gertrude Legendre]
[Gertrude Sanford]
Gender: Female
Birth Year: abt 1903
[abt 1883]
[Abt 1902]
Birthplace: South Carolina
[Scotland]
Race: White
Home in 1930: Manhattan, New York, New York
Map of Home: View Map
Marital status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Father's Name: John Sanford
Father's Birthplace: New York
Mother's Birthplace: Belgium
Household Members: Name Age
John Sanford 79
Stephen Sanford 31
Sarah Jane Sanford 28
Gertrude Legenhe 27
[47]
Sidney Legenhe 26
[other names redacted]


1940 United States Federal Census

Name: Gertrude Lagendre
Age: 35
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1905
Gender: Female
Race: White
Birthplace: South Carolina
Marital status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Home in 1940: Second St James Goose Creek, Berkeley, South Carolina
Map of Home in 1940: View Map
Inferred Residence in 1935: Second St James Goose Creek, Berkeley, South Carolina
Residence in 1935: Same House
Sheet Number: 13A
Attended School or College: No
Weeks Worked in 1939: 0
Income: 0
Income Other Sources: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Sidney Lagendre 35
Gertrude Lagendre 35
Landine Lagendre 7
Rose Sherin 45 ["servant"]

On September 26, 1944, while employed by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Ms. Legendre was captured by the Germans along with her traveling companion and OSS colleague Robert Jennings and another OSS colleague Maxwell Papurt.


Family Members

Parents
Spouse
Siblings
Children
Gravesite Details "When Gertie died at age 97 in 2000, her ashes were scattered around the grounds and a headstone was erected next to Sidney's grave near the house." (NY TIMES article)

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  • Created by: Tom Nelson
  • Added: 8 Feb 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial 124818785
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gertrude Ellen DuPuy “Gertie” Sanford Legendre (28 Mar 1902–8 Mar 2000), Find a Grave Memorial no. 124818785, citing Medway Plantation Cemetery, Berkeley County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Tom Nelson (contributor 47054245) .