SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The wealthy socialite and philanthropist Marylou Whitney left $17.2 million to her five children when she died last summer, with the bulk of her expansive estate being left to her husband, John Hendrickson.
Whitney's final will, filed last month in Saratoga County Surrogate Court in Ballston Spa, also spells out that two homes on her Cady Hill estate in Saratoga Springs be left to two long-time household employees, either by deed or with the employee being allowed to live rent-free in the homes for the rest of their lives.
Whitney, who was synonymous with the summer social scene in Saratoga Springs for more than a half-century and, as she grew older, a variety of philanthropic efforts, died at Cady Hill on July 19, at the age of 93. Her death led to an outpouring of grief and tributes in the community.
The awards to her children are only a fraction of her estate, which includes a Kentucky horse farm, Marylou Whitney Stables, LLC. She also owned the 121-acre Cady Hill and 36,000 acres of land in the north-central Adirondacks that is operated as Whitney Industries, primarily for harvesting commercial lumber. Hendrickson is executor of the estate, the full value of which is not described in court papers.
In the will, $10 million is left to her youngest child, Cornelia Whitney Tobey, who lives in New Mexico. Tobey is the only child of her second marriage, to the wealthy Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney.
Other disbursements included $5 million to daughter Heather Ann Mabee of Saratoga; $1 million each to Henry Deere Hosford of Alaska and Frank Hobbs Hosford of Georgia, and $200,000 to Marion Louise Llewellyn, who lives in England. All are children of her first marriage to John Deere fortune heir John Hosford.The estate is to pay any taxes on the money.
All five children have filed documents with the court indicating they accept the terms of the will. One provision included in the will said that if any of the children contested the will, they would lose any inheritance.
The "loyal and long-term" employees given homes at Cady Hill are Carolyn "Karrie" Steuer and Deana Signor.
The document also specifies that Whitney was to be buried in Greenridge Cemetery in Saratoga Springs, where C.V. Whitney is buried, and where the will says Hendrickson may also one day be buried, if he wishes.
Whitney's will was signed in October 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky, where Whitney and Hendrickson own the Marylou Whitney Stables thoroughbred horse farm and other property. The estate has been temporarily probated in Kentucky due to the high costs of maintaining the horse farm, but that authority will be transferred to New York as soon as the estate is finalized here, according to a document filed by Thomas W. Miller the Kentucky attorney who is identified as a family friend, and who is the estate's lawyer.
Whitney was arguably Saratoga's most prominent citizen through most of her life.
Whitney was active during the Saratoga racing season until her final months, hosting an annual racing season ball at the Canfield Casino for decades, and philanthropically supporting backstretch track workers. She and Hendrickson also donated millions of dollars to community organizations including Saratoga Hospital and the National Museum of Dance.
At Saratoga Hospital, Whitney and Hendrickson were consistent financial supporters. The intensive care unit carries her name, and the cardiac catheterization lab is named in her honor, as well. Whitney and Hendrickson also donated $1 million to the hospital's radiation oncology center.
Whitney was a founder of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the early 1960s. During the Saratoga race meet, she was for decades the honorary chair of or hostess of numerous charity events.
Born Marie Louise Schroeder, she grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and attended the University of Iowa before going to work as an actress in movies, television and radio. She married Hosford, an heir to the John Deere fortune, and they had four children before divorcing. She then married Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney, with whom she had one daughter, Tobey. C.V. Whitney died in 1992. In 1997, she married Hendrickson, who is nearly 40 years her junior.
She returned to active philanthropic work even after suffering a stroke in 2006.