Wendy Russell Reves (May 2, 1916 – March 13, 2007) was an American philanthropist, socialite, and former fashion model.
Early life and career
She was born Wyn-Nelle Russell in Marshall, Texas, and adopted the name Wendy as an adult.
Her modeling career began in 1939, and she appeared in Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. Virginia Pope, the fashion critic of The New York Times, described her as "one of New York's most-seen manikins [sic]."
Wendy's first husband, Al Schroeder, was a West Point graduate she met when he was stationed in Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas. Wendy was barely sixteen when they discussed marriage, but was persuaded by her mother to wait until her seventeenth birthday to marry. One year later they had a son, Arnold Leon Schroeder.
In 1940, she married Paul Baron (b. 1911), a pianist and conductor who was the leader of the Paul Baron Orchestra, a well-known studio band of the 1930s and 1940s. He was a vocal arranger for Fifi D'Orsay, Nanette Fabray, Jane Froman, Elvira Rios, Mildred Bailey, and Lupe Vélez and was co-writer of the popular song Rum and Cola Cola, which was performed by, among others, The Andrews Sisters.
From 1948, she was the mistress of Emery Reves (né Emery Revesz, 1904–1981), a Hungarian-born writer, publisher, financier, art collector, founder of the anti-fascist Cooperation Press Service, and advocate of world federalism. The couple married in 1964 in Thonex, Switzerland.
A first cousin of the conductor Sir Georg Solti and a literary agent for and close friend of Winston Churchill, Emery Reves described his wife as "a woman with a brilliant mind and imagination, tempered by much common sense. She is a woman who never bored me". In 1953, the couple bought La Pausa, a villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, which had been built for Coco Chanel by the Duke of Westminster.
Winston Churchill, by then semi-retired from politics, spent much of the years from 1956 to 1959 as a guest at La Pausa. He was rarely accompanied by his wife Clementine Churchill, who did not care greatly for Emery and is said to have strongly disliked Wendy. This dislike led to a cooling in the friendship between her husband and Reves, of which there is eloquent testimony in an anguished letter from Reves to Churchill early in 1960, refusing to have him at La Pausa again. Reves shows a deep concern for Wendy's mental health in this letter, referring to her emotional fragility and battle with depression, for which he seemed to hold the Churchills at least partly responsible.
Following her husband's 1981 death, Reves chose to devote her energies to charitable endeavors. Among her philanthropies is the establishment of the Wendy and Emery Reves wing of the Dallas Museum of Art in 1985 (a 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) recreation of six rooms of the Reves' villa), which displays the Reves' extensive art collection as it was originally displayed at their villa, and the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William & Mary (established with a $3 million grant); the adjacent residence hall is also named for the couple. She also donated $25,000 to begin the Wonderland of Lights which has become one of the largest light festivals in the United States. She was instrumental in convincing Janine Michelson, the widow of Leo Michelson, to found the Michelson Museum of Art in Marshall, Texas to house the Russian American's art collection.
Other philanthropic gifts included a $2 million endowment to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and UT Southwestern Medical Center establishing an international breast cancer symposium and a diagnostic and treatment center.
An additional $2 million went to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, which features an entry arch named for Emery Reves.
Reves died on March 13, 2007, aged 90, at a hospital near her villa in France.