After pausing for two weeks at the door of a bedroom in Chicago's Drake Hotel, last week Death came, as it must to all women, to Edith Rockefeller McCormick. Once she was called the world's richest woman. But cancer makes no distinctions. Two years ago she had a growth removed from her breast. It reappeared in her liver. When she moved to the Drake from her mansion on Lake Shore Drive in June (TIME, Aug. 1), she and her doctors knew the end was near.
Beside her in the last two weeks, during which her indomitable rallies amazed every one, were her onetime husband, Harold Fowler McCormick, their three living children, and her brother John. They had all come to her after years of an estrangement that was more of her making than theirs. A chief cause of the estrangement was also in devoted attendance—the plump little Swiss named Edwin D. Krenn with whom she had shared her last eleven years. Her brother John did not wait for the end. Itching painfully with an attack of shingles, he rejoined their father, John Davison Rockefeller, in the East. Long estranged too, and querulously jealous of his own health at 93, Father Rockefeller had not gone to see her at all. "He travels only between Florida and his home," John D. Jr. explained. In her last days, with the flesh fallen from her face and the death mask showing. Edith Rockefeller had come to resemble her father closely.
As near to royalty as it is possible to come in the U. S. was Edith Rockefeller when, in 1895, she married that most handsome and eligible of contemporary Princetonians, Harold McCormick. The newspapers called her the Princess of Standard Oil. He was the Prince of International Harvester. She was a demure little blonde, with a high forehead, grey eyes and a mass of ringlets under her hat. She swam, skated, rode a horse and bicycle, but preferred to read and study. The newspapers wrote of a regal wedding but actually it was a quiet, private ceremony in a parlor of Manhattan's old Buckingham Hotel. The first two years of their life together were spent in the quiet little river town of Council Bluffs. Iowa, and it was not until the McCormicks moved to Chicago that her imperiousness began to assert itself and the strange things that happen to the very rich began to happen to her.