Eugenia Seamans, 88

Eugenia Seamans, former regent of Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, dies at 88

Eugenia Seamans, pictured with one of her grandchildren, was the daughter of a diplomat and niece of Gen. George S. Patton.
Eugenia Seamans, pictured with one of her grandchildren, was the daughter of a diplomat and niece of Gen. George S. Patton. (Family Photo)
Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eugenia Seamans, 88, a former regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which owns, maintains and operates the home of George Washington, died Aug. 12 at her home in Beverly Farms, Mass. She had multiple organ failure.

Mrs. Seamans was born Eugenia Ayer Merrill in Madrid, where her father was serving as U.S. consul. She grew up in Washington and attended the Potomac School before graduating from a boarding school in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. She was the niece of Gen. George S. Patton and the granddaughter of Frederick Ayer, the owner of one of the country's largest wool mills.

She spent summers as a child on Massachusetts's North Shore and was married there in 1942 to Robert C. Seamans Jr., a scientist and public official who went on to serve as secretary of the Air Force, deputy administrator of NASA and administrator of the old Energy Research and Development Administration.

The couple raised their children in Beverly Farms before moving to Washington in about 1960.

Mrs. Seamans served for 20 years with the nonprofit Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, including from 1986 to 1990 as regent. In 1989, she traveled to Paris to present to Francois Mitterrand, then the president of France, an iron key to the Bastille prison. The key had been a gift to George Washington and was offered as a loan to the people of France in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution.

The couple moved back to Beverly Farms in the late 1970s.

Mrs. Seamans was the crew and cook on the 40-foot sailboat she shared with her husband. In 1985, the couple won a race from Marblehead, Mass., to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Mrs. Seamans was a philanthropist who supported many causes, including the Deafness Research Foundation, the National Cathedral and the Hospice of Mission Hill, the first AIDS hospice in New England.

Her husband died in 2008 after 66 years of marriage.

Survivors include five children, Katharine Padulo of Philadelphia, Robert C. Seamans III of Beverly Farms, Joseph Seamans of Pittsburgh, May Baldwin of Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and Daniel Seamans of Berkeley, Calif.; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

-- Emma Brown

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