Remembering Carol C. Sellon 1935 – 2023

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of our dear friend, former Trustee and Advisory Board member Carol C. Sellon on December 24th. Our sympathies go out to her family and friends.

Carol joined our Board of Trustees in 2008, serving until 2017 when she joined the Advisory Board. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence with a major in Early Childhood and minor in Painting she brought skills in education and design to our nonprofit. As a teacher for 9 years at Rye Country Day in the Kindergarten and 1st Grade, she understood the potential of revitalizing the Jay Estate for the enjoyment of young families and creating opportunities for a myriad of experiences from art to music programs. She and her husband Peter appreciated the unique acoustics of our buildings and Carol made a pivotal introduction to Juilliard’s Ben Sosland in 2010. Sosland, the founding administrative director of Juilliard Historical Performance shared Carol’s vision and on April 18, 2010, Juilliard students performed select pieces from the High Baroque era at the debut of “Juilliard at Jay.” The unique concert featured period-appropriate instruments (including violin, cello and harpsichord), and the musicians exhibited the level of technical excellence and musical integrity for which Juilliard is renowned. Carol and Peter even donated the funds for 150 comfortable chairs for concertgoers to replace the center’s spartan white plastic chairs. And so a series of classical concerts at JHC began in a modest fashion, laying the groundwork for the future transformation of the building to the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim Exhibit and Performance Center.

Carol was also a member of the Rye Garden Club and past Chair of their Garden History and Design Committee. She worked closely with the Garden Club of America and Smithsonian to review, document, and photograph historic landscapes and properties. As a seasoned advocate for historic preservation, especially for the restoration of notable gardens, Carol helped raise funds for JHC, cultivating new supporters for our efforts. In 2016, she co-chaired our popular Hearth and Earth luncheon featuring incomparable public parks designer and advocate Lynden B. Miller; Miller is renowned for her brilliant restoration of Olmsted’s Central Park Conservancy Garden. The event also featured American arts specialist and Winterthur expert Jay E. Cantor who traced the evolution of Henry F. du Pont’s iconic estate from private to public domain. The luncheon was a huge success and raised greater awareness about plans for restoring the Jay Estate Gardens as public spaces.

Carol was an extraordinary person with a knack of elevating every idea with an extra bit of clarity and shine. As a member of American Yacht Club, Carol was also fascinated by the maritime connections between the Jay Estate, its residents and Long Island Sound. She helped remind people about those relationships throughout her tenure as a trustee.

Carol’s vitality, generosity and eye for possibilities yet unrealized will be sorely missed.  Predeceased by her husband Peter, she is survived by her three children, Chris (Lynn), Karen (Matt) and Mark (Allison). A memorial service will be held on February 11th at American Yacht Club in Rye from 12 – 3:30pm.