Eileen Slocum, 92, grand dame of Newport

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Associated Press / July 31, 2008

NEWPORT, R.I. - Newport society's grande dame, Eileen Slocum, who lived in a Gilded Age mansion along Millionaire's Row and was a former national committeewoman for the Republican Party, has died at age 92.

Ms. Slocum had been hospitalized with pneumonia and died Sunday.

She had suffered a series of strokes that had forced her to step down from the Republican National Committee earlier this year, said her son, John.

Ms. Slocum lived in the Harold Carter Brown House, a Gothic revival-style estate built in the 1890s by her uncle, a member of the wealthy family that established Brown University.

In her later years, she was one of a diminishing number of year-round residents along Bellevue Avenue, also known as Millionaires' Row.

Many of her neighbors' homes had become tourist attractions maintained by preservation groups, as their residents died off or couldn't keep up on taxes and maintenance.

"I felt very sad to see, one by one, the owners die," Ms. Slocum told the Associated Press in 1993. "But I feel the houses remain as monuments to them."

Still, in the summer, many descendants of old Newport families were back in town.

"I see the grandchildren of people I've known here," she told The Boston Globe in 2004.

"I am shaking little hands on the beach and saying, `I knew your great-grandparents.' "

In her mansion, Ms. Slocum held fund-raisers and parties for President Ford, Senator Elizabeth Dole, and Vice President Dick Cheney.

She joined the party's national committee in 1992.

Republican Governor Donald L. Carcieri called Ms. Slocum an extraordinary woman with a command of politics and public policy.

The Globe said she had photos of herself with President Reagan, whom she called "a dear man," and George H. W. Bush, who, she said, was "handsomer than his son, but his son's doing very well, I think."

Ms. Slocum was born in 1915 in New York City, the daughter of banker Lawrence Gillespie.

She married John Slocum, a journalist and diplomat, in 1940. He died in 1997.

Besides her son, Ms. Slocum leaves two daughters, Marguerite Slocum Quinn of Virginia and Beryl Slocum Powell of Newport; 11 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.

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