Edith N. Muma left this world a far better place on March 17th. Edie died peacefully at home with her daughter, Dee at her side.
As sad as we are to lose her, she and her work, will forever live on. Born on December 7, 1915, in Forest Hills, New York, to Jessie Patterson Cooke and Roland Holbrook Smith, Edie was also the step-daughter of Charles F. Noyes.
Edie grew up on Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn, and was a member of Bennington College's first graduating class. A visionary woman, she went right to work for the New York City Housing Authority, and before very long, became a national YWCA board member. On July 12, 1938, she married the love of her life, John R. Muma.
In 1947, Edith's stepfather, Charles F. Noyes established a foundation with his New York real estate earnings in his wife's name, Jessie Smith Noyes. His wish was "Without favoritism and with only one thought in mind, may this Foundation function through the ages as a tribute to a wonderful Lady, for the purpose primarily of helping those seeking an education and for other worthwhile charities - irrespective of race, creed or color."
In 1970, sensing the dire threat to our quality of life, and to the existence of natural biological populations, Edie, her husband and daughter, repositioned the Foundation's original mandate to one that remains its guiding principle: "To protect and restore Earth's natural systems."
Edie, with her daughter, Dee, Richard Amper and the Pine Barrens Society, worked together to implement the East End (Long Island) 2 Percent Real Estate transfer tax, a seminal piece of legislation which has created a fund to purchase the development credits on East End land, allowing farms and farming to continue and thrive amid the pressures of development.
An astute businesswoman, Edie made remarkable investments from real estate to Broadway shows. A lady and gracious hostess, she had that gift of making everyone she met feel as if they were the most important person in the room.
As her niece, Julie Bedell of Maryland, so aptly stated, "Edie never seemed to age, she led a fascinating life and seemed to enjoy every minute. Our four children have treasured memories of holiday dinners spent with Edie, John and Dee. Speaking for the entire family, Edie was a regal yet very warm human being who will be missed by us all."
This remarkable woman and resident of Old Town, Fla., served on the boards of the Noyes Foundation, the Nature Conservatory and the American Farmland Trust. She was a member of the Cosmopolitan Club and was an avid gardener and cook. Edie also took great delight in watercolor painting and tai chi.
Edie is survived by her most wonderful creation, her daughter, Dee, and countless other family members, friends and associates.
In lieu of flowers, Edie's wish was that donations be made to causes she held most dear: The LI Pine Barrens Society and the Ecological Design Center at University of Vermont.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
This obituary was submitted by Richard Amper of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.