Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, widow of late Thoroughbred owner-breeder and philanthropist Paul Mellon, died March 17 at age 103.
Mellon's family said she died of natural causes at her beloved Oak Spring Farms in Virginia's horse country, where she entertained royalty, stars, and politicians but from which she rarely ventured. Her late husband oversaw his famed Rokeby Stables racing operation from their historic Fauquier County estate.
Together, the Mellons campaigned numerous elite runners, including Mill Reef, winner of 1971 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) and Epsom Derby (Eng-I); Sea Hero, who captured the 1993 Kentucky Derby (gr. I); Hall of Fame members Arts and Letters and Fort Marcy; and champions Key to the Mint and Run the Gantlet.
The Mellons' runners won more than 1,000 stakes and had total earnings of more than of $30 million.
Paul Mellon, an Eclipse Award-winning breeder in 1971 and 1986, died in 1999 at age 91. He was selected an inaugural Pillars of the Turf inductee into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The category was designated to honor individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Thoroughbred racing in a leadership or pioneering capacity at the highest national level.
The couple also donated and bequeathed millions of dollars to support equine research and Thoroughbred aftercare programs.
Bunny Mellon lived a closely guarded life dominated by the arts, fashion, rare books, and extraordinary gardens. She no longer raised horses.
"She was involved in the business of nature and beauty, design and implementation," said Alexander Forger, her personal attorney for the past 40 years.
Rachel Lowe Lambert Lloyd, Mellon's mother, gave her the nickname "Bunny," which stuck with her throughout her life, said interior designer and friend Bryan Huffman of North Carolina.
In 1932, she married Stacy Barcroft Lloyd Jr., a businessman and horse breeder. After their divorce, she married Mellon—at the time, reportedly, the world's richest man.
Her grandfather, Jordan W. Lambert, created Listerine. Her father, Gerald Lambert, built a company that made everything from Dentyne to Schick razors before it was sold to Pfizer for $110 billion in 2000.
"She's a remarkable person," Huffman said. "The last standing true American aristocrat."