Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Baroness Josephine DuMonde

Beatrice Elizabeth Bonner was born into a prosperous Midwestern family who built their fortune in the early days of the oil industry boom. She studied dance at the best schools in Europe, making frequent academic trips to examine the dance customs of Asia and Micronesia, and while visiting Sydney, she fell in love with a young Australian anthropologist. In a strange twist of fate, he abandoned her during an excursion to Pitcairn's Island--where she was subsequently introduced to the Baron DuMonde.
At 23, Beatrice was a wealthy socialite and a serious student of dance, and the Baron was 50, an erudite, educated man of the world, a generous patron of the arts (and a covert financier of the American Communist Party) who had owned the original Troubador and later opened the Troubador Hotel, which eventually became the Hotel Ticonderoga. Beatrice sailed with the Baron to South America and they were married in Buenos Aires (where she was familiar to President and Mrs. Peron as "Josephine".) The DuMondes returned to the US and the Baroness (who was infertile) became involved with several children's charities. After the Baron's assassination by the CIA in 1957, the bereaved Baroness found solace in the arms of her deceased husband's younger half-brother, and a minor media frenzy ensued when they were married. Their union was brief and tragic; Michel St. Gerard was a womanizing, gambling drunkard and a reckless pilot who crashed his small airplane into a mountainside after squandering most of his wife's fortune away on the tables at Monte Carlo. In a state of shock (and mourning both husbands) the Baroness moved into the top floor of the Ticonderoga (one of her few remaining assets) to acquaint herself with the spirit and history the Baron had embraced there. She divested the family petroleum business, established an arts charity league for underpriveleged youth, and is today recognized as one of our city's most beloved patrons.