Mary Bailey who passed away in February 2011quietly left $ 10 million dollars each to the Central Park Conservancy, and to the NY public library.
She gave the term hush money a whole new meaning.
For more than a half-century, Mary McConnell Bailey lived an incredibly quiet and unassuming life.
The shy widow, whose husband died in World War II, had no children, lived in a modest apartment on the East Side, and volunteered at a hospital and schools.
She died at age 88 as quietly as she lived. She never wanted an obit.
But she’ll now be remembered as a major philanthropist. She left a $20 million fortune nobody dreamed she had to her favorite New York institutions — the New York Public Library and Central Park, according to the New York Post.
She died in February 2011. The library and Central Park Conservancy recently got checks for $10 million each.
“You would have never known” she was rich, said her best friend and neighbor, Lizanne Stoll. “When we went to lunch, it was usually dutch. She was very secretive about it all.”
Bailey made it clear that when she died, she didn’t want a funeral.
“She wouldn’t consider it,” Stoll said.
Even the library didn’t know how much she was going to donate.
“I met her many times and had lunch with her twice, but I cannot remember her voice. That’s how soft-spoken she was,” said John Bacon, the library’s director of planned giving.
“She was always neat and careful, but nothing fancy. No jewelry, no nothing. And always a track suit — day, night or otherwise.’’
Half of the money she gave to the library will be used to keep local branches open, Bacon said.
Raised in North Hampton, Mass., Bailey, who came from a moneyed family, moved to the city in the 1940s. She never remarried and largely kept to herself.
She attended Columbia and briefly taught kindergarten in Chelsea, but when her mother died and left her and her siblings a sizable inheritance, she stopped working.
“I think once she had that money set aside, she didn’t give a damn [about it]. She didn’t feel it was hers at all,” Stoll said.
Bailey’s family had owned shares in the Roaring Spring Blank Book Co., which produces the marble-cover notebooks nearly every schoolkid uses.
She found no thrill in spending money on herself.
“Her apartment had that 1950s fresh-out-of-college look. She had nice antiques, but all the art on the walls seemed to be copies from MoMA,” Stoll said.
“Mary didn’t give a damn. It was quixotic. Those were not her priorities.”