Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge

Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge

Infobox Person
name = Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge

image_size = 250px
caption = Dodge with Rin Tin Tin in 1929 at Giralda Farms
birth_date = April 3, 1882
birth_place = Tioga County, New York
death_date = August 13, 1973
death_place = Newark, New Jersey
occupation = Philanthropist
spouse = Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Sr.
parents = Almira Geraldine Goodsell
William Avery Rockefeller, Jr.
children = Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Jr.

Ethel Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (April 3, 1882 – August 13, 1973) was the youngest child and only daughter of Almira Geraldine Goodsell Rockefeller and William Avery Rockefeller, Jr., the Standard Oil tycoon.

She was born, Ethel Geraldine Rockefeller, in Tioga County, New York, but as an adult, she was widely known as, Geradine R. Dodge. She was a generous benefactor to community and charity efforts.

"Giralda Farms" was the name given to her New Jersey country estate, stables, and kennels. Her residence was a revival of Medieval Spanish Gothic architecture style with appointments resembling Giralda. The vast estate was known internationally for horse and dog shows. "Saint Hubert's at Giralda", founded on her estate, became her refuge for injured and lost animals. Among other patronages, Saint Hubert was the patron saint of hunters and dogs.

She also was a great patron of the arts and parts of her collection became the object of a lawsuit following her death.

Geraldine R. Dodge judged at major dog shows in every American state as well as the premier shows in Germany, Canada, Ireland, and England. She was the first woman invited to judge for the Westminster Kennel Club, where she was invited to judge the "Best in Show". []

She was the author of two books, "The English Cocker Spaniel in America", and "The German Shepherd Dog in America", the latter of which was a collaboration with her curator of art, Josephine Z. Rine.

She was recognized as a philanthropist, a benefactor to communities, the arts, nonprofit and natural resource efforts, as an author, a judge of dogs, a breeder of dogs, the founder of the Morris and Essex Dog Club and its internationally recognized annual exhibition in May that was considered the most prestigious dog show held in the United States of America for decades, and the founder of a refuge for injured and lost animals. She also was one of the founders of the Seeing Eye Foundation in Morristown, in 1929, the first guide dog school in the country from which the ubiquitous term, "seeing eye dog", originated.

At her death she left $85 million to establish the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which continues her work.

She married Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Sr., president of The Remington Arms Company and, she brought into the marriage an estimated personal fortune of $101 million. They were married on April 18, 1907 in Manhattan, where both resided, in a quiet ceremony at the residence of the bride's family, following the contemporary customs dictated by a mourning period after the death of the groom's father in February. []

Dodge, an heir to the Hartley and Phelps Dodge fortunes, had a fortune estimated at $60 million. At the time of their marriage they were described in social circles as the wealthiest newly-weds in America.

During the early part of their marriage they resided together at "Hartley Farms". Eventually, while in New Jersey, they resided on separate, but abutting, country estates ("Giralda Farms" and "Hartley Farms") hers fronting the main route from Madison to Morristown and extending to his that faced south and fronted on Spring Valley Road in New Vernon. A long private path extended for miles from one house to the other with gates at either side of Woodland Road, which defined the southern boundary of her property.

Unfortunately, the historic residence of Geraldine R. Dodge was demolished by the insurance company that bought the estate following her death. She had purchased it in 1923 from Charles W. Harkness, the third largest holder of stock in Standard Oil while she and her husband were assembling properties that adjoined. Mr. Dodge's property extended to the edge of the Great Swamp that is a remnant from the Glacial Lake Passaic. His property has been preserved through a conservation easement and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

They were instrumental in helping those in the "Jersey Jet Site Association", who began the campaign to save that vast swamp from development as an airport, by providing funds for the initial purchases of core properties in 1959. [] Acquisition of a significant area of land was required for it to qualify as a large enough gift to the federal government that could be set aside, forever, as a federal park.

Her husband was one of the first trustees of the "North American Wildlife Foundation" that completed the acquisition. Legislation championed by then congressman Stewart L. Udall was passed on November 3, 1960 protecting the important natural resource. In 1964 the park was dedicated by Udall, who had become Secretary of the Interior to president John F. Kennedy and continued under Lyndon B. Johnson. [] The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was dedicated in 1968 and named the M. Hartley Dodge Wildlife Refuge. []

The couple had only one child, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Jr., whom they called "Hartley". He was killed in an automobile accident on August 29, 1930 in Mogesca, France. In his memory, his mother purchased a large parcel of land for twenty thousand dollars and gave Madison, New Jersey the property and the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building which was dedicated on Memorial Day, Thursday, May 30, 1935 and used as the borough hall. The New York Times published that the building cost eight hundred thousand dollars. Mrs. Dodge also donated the train station. These structures became the core of the "Madison Civic Commercial Historic District", which is listed on the State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. They made many other significant donations in his name.

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