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Hirschhorn, Olga - Naples  
Hirschhorn, Olga The art collector and iconoclast, Olga Hirshhorn, wife of the late Joseph Hirshhorn of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, has died on October 3, at age 95. She spent her last years in the Florida home she loved, a place she designed herself for her last days. She was a person of great imagination and boundless energy, a force of nature that affected all who knew her. Born to hard working immigrant parents, Nicholas and Barbara Zatorsky, her early life was a reflection of the compassionate yet competitive spirit that characterized her later life. She graduated from Greenwich High School in 1939. She was a serious athlete, a tennis player in high school and years later, at an age when most people are giving up sports, she still played competitively. As a junior in High School she won the mile and a half swim to Greenwich Connecticut's Island Beach. The next year officials insisted that everybody else needed a head start to make it fair but Olga won anyway. At age 85 she continued her athletic pursuits with a trip to Antarctica. Olga Hirshhorn was an extraordinary "people" person and communicator. "Hi," she would say, "I'm Olga Hirshhorn" and then on she would go to promote a favorite cause or artist. She was a world traveler and personal friends with President Johnson and President Clinton. She met the art collector Joseph Hirshhorn through Services Unlimited, an employment agency she started. A few years later, in 1964, they were married. Olga Hirshhorn was 5' 2" tall and so was Joe. It was a good match. Joe Hirshhorn openly admired not only her energy but her boundless imagination, "her mind kept me awake at night," he used to joke. Olga was an inseparable partner for Joe as he assembled one of the largest private collections of sculpture and painting in the world. In 1966 an act of congress created the Hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden, regarded as one of the most significant collections of art in the world. Joseph Hirshhorn died in 1981. Olga Hirshhorn's involvement in art continued unabated after Joe's passing. She served not only on the board of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, but also on the board of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Baker Museum in Florida. She received numerous awards and she was a lecturer and a speaker at events throughout the world. Her personal collection of over two hundred small works from her tiny "Mouse House" traveled all over the country, with exhibitions at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich Connecticut and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington among other places. The Mouse House Collection included small works of Daumier, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Salvatore Dali and numerous other Artists. It finally found a permanent home in the Baker Museum in Naples. To the end, Olga Hirshhorn never lost sight of her humble beginnings or her way with people or her very special sense of humor. Her tiny home in Washington, DC she called the "Mouse House." A lightning bolt shot across her home on Martha's Vineyard and everybody knew her license plate, "Mices." Her third marriage to Robert Whittier Dudley of Washington, DC. in 1985 ended tragically a year later when he was stricken with cancer. Olga Hirshhorn spent her last years actively engaged as a philanthropist and a vigorous supporter of the arts and many other noteworthy causes. She divided her time between her homes in Martha's Vineyard, Washington D.C. and Naples, Florida where she was a ubiquitous presence at art and community activities. The creative and artistic culture of Martha's Vineyard held a special place in her heart, and she will be sorely missed at "Chicken Alley" the Vineyard Haven art sale she organized, and the Art Buchwald Possible Dreams Auction where she loved to bid for fishing trips with her good friend Coop. In 1939 she married John Cunningham, her high school English teacher, and she had three sons, John, Denis and Graham Cunningham. Her sister Stephanie, her brother Nicholas and her son Graham predeceased her. She is survived by John, his wife Belinda, Denis and his wife Linda, her grandchildren, John, Sarah, Graham, Jessica and Joseph and one great-grandchild, Finn. A memorial service will be held at Temple Sholom in Greenwich Connecticut at 10:00 AM Wednesday October 7. The Burial will be in the Temple Sholom Cemetery at Memory Lane in Greenwich Connecticut. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Olga's memory to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut or to the Hirshhorn museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.
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Published in GreenwichTime on Oct. 5, 2015
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