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Donor Profile: Marillyn Wilson

Profile
September 29, 2008

By Yvette DeBow-Salsedo

In February 2008, Marillyn Wilson made an extraordinary gift to the Peconic Land Trust with the donation of Wilson’s Grove, approximately 45 acres of woodland including her architecturally distinctive home. The donation was the latest in a long-running relationship between the Trust and Ms. Wilson, which began with her friendship with John Halsey in the early years of the Trust, followed closely by her encouragement and generous support of the Trust’s conservation efforts.  In June 2002, she donated a conservation easement on her property to the Trust. See the Peconic Land Trust newsletter, Fall 2002.  

“We will be forever grateful to Marillyn, not simply for her gift of this incredible property but also for her friendship and long-standing support of the Trust and its mission,” said John v.H. Halsey, President of the Peconic Land Trust. “Marillyn’s property, Wilson’s Grove, is clearly one of the most unique properties on the East End. And her love of that property and her willingness to share it with the public speaks volumes about her humanity.”    

John v.H. Halsey with Marillyn Wilson in the summer of 2009

In discussing the donation of the property to the Trust, Ms. Wilson reflected on her 40 years of owning the property and its wonderful white pine forest. She recounted a story about a solitary birthday hike and a wonderful surprise – “walking through the woods, I spotted a purple object up ahead and thought to myself rubbish. When I came upon it and picked it up – it was a purple mylar balloon exclaiming “Happy Birthday” – and what a laugh I had to myself sitting in the woods.”  

“It was a lovely 40 years and I hope that others will enjoy the woods as much as I have,” said Wilson, simply.  

A native of Michigan, Ms. Wilson was living in New York City with her husband and had come to East Hampton to visit with city friends in the ‘60s. A week’s visit had them pushing off the shore and driving the roads north of the highway where they discovered “all these lovely wild lands, reminiscent of Northern Michigan.”