Hudson Valley News
8:54 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

A Champion For The Environment And Peace Dies At 106

Ned Sullivan and Kathryn Davis
Credit Courtesy of Scenic Hudson

A well-known philanthropist and environmentalist who had a hilltop residence in New York’s Hudson Valley has died. She was also a champion for world peace. 

Kathryn Wasserman Davis died at the age of 106 on Tuesday. She took up both painting and kayaking in her 90s; the latter she sometimes shared with Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan, along the Hudson and other rivers.

Sullivan says he recalls last kayaking with her in the fall, when Davis was 105.

He also recalls that she not only loved the Hudson River, but invested her time and resources to its preservation and public access. When Davis turned 100, she donated $20 million to Scenic Hudson, the noted environmental group, to enable the preservation of land along the Hudson River.

It’s the Kathryn W. Davis RiverWalk Center, which opened in 2011. Sullivan says there is also a new park on the riverfront in Tarrytown, also in Westchester, where Davis was a resident. The park was once the contaminated site of an asphalt plant.

And, as Sullivan points out, Davis was a crusader for peace, and often travelled the globe, meeting with world leaders. Also on her 100th birthday in 2007, Davis created 100 Projects for Peace, a program that awards $10,000 to student initiatives aimed at promoting universal understanding.

MJ Martin is director of outreach & development at Garrison-based Hudson Highlands Land Trust, where Davis’ grandson, Chris Davis, is chairman. Here’s Martin.

Davis graduated from Wellesley College, earned her master's degree at Columbia University, and her Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Geneva. She was married to Shelby Davis, a well-known investor and former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland.

Kathryn Davis died at her home in Florida. She was 106.

Recently asked by one of her great-grandchildren to name her favorite day, she instantly replied, "Tomorrow."

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