By Emily J. Minor
Gulf Stream — Elizabeth G. Beinecke, a generous benefactor of the arts and the environment who had a winter home in Gulf Stream for many years, died April 14 in her sleep. She was 89.
Known as Betty to her friends and family, Mrs. Beinecke had been married to her husband, Bill, for nearly 68 years. She had been recovering from heart surgery and was unable to make the winter trip to Florida this year.
Even though Mrs. Beinecke led a successful life of influential philanthropy and social interests — personal loves that often meant she hobnobbed with stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Taylor — it was her down-to-earth qualities that will make her missed, said friends and family.
“I never met a person who knew her who didn’t love her,” said Gulf Stream neighbor and friend Nancy Wibbelsman.
“She was gracious. She was sweet. She was very energetic.”
Mrs. Beinecke lived in New York City, Chatham, Mass., and here in Florida. She was an avid gardener with a rooftop garden in New York and, earlier, a beautiful and memorable garden in Summit, N.J., where the Beineckes raised their four children.
The daughter of a newspaper editor, she helped found the Prospect Hill Foundation in New York and was a generous supporter of many not-for-profit organizations through the foundation. Her daughter, Frances, is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which was also one of Mrs. Beinecke’s causes.
Wibbelsman said the Beineckes loved entertaining their family at their Gulf Stream home. Bill Beinecke, the retired chairman and CEO of the Sperry & Hutchinson Company — as in S&H green stamps — still swam in the ocean every day during their winter stay last season, Wibbelsman said.
“What I will miss most about her is her calling me ‘dearie,’ ” Wibbelsman said. “She was really, really a ray of sunshine.”
Besides her husband, she is survived by their four children, Frederick Beinecke, John Beinecke, Sarah Beinecke Richardson and Frances Beinecke Elston; seven grandchildren; two great grandchildren, and a younger sister, Jean Gillespie Belsito, of Stamford, Conn.
A celebration of her life is scheduled for May 12 in New York City and donations can be made in her memory to the New York Philharmonic Society.