Jean Mermin Horblit, 98, of Stonington, CT, widow of Harrison D.
Horblit, passed away peacefully July 11, 2009 at Fairview Nursing Home
in Groton, CT.
Jean was born in New Haven, CT, Sept. 22, 1910 to
Charles and Nechame Mermin.
Jean attended New Haven public schools, and was the 1927
Connecticut High School shorthand champion. As a young woman she
moved to New York City to pursue her interest in fabrics and design,
working for Colonial Fabrics on Madison Avenue. She rose through the
company to eventually head up the Design Department. She met her
husband while at Colonial and they were married in 1952. Jean and
Harrison loved life in New York, where they were active in the Grolier
Club and the arts. For two months every summer they sailed the Maine
coast aboard their yawl, "Suluan."
Upon retirement, Jean and Harrison moved to Ridgefield,
CT in 1965. Jean was a collector of antique Japanese Ukiyo-e
woodblock prints, illustrated books and maps. Prints and books from
her collection have been exhibited at the Hammond Museum, Princeton
University, and Katonah Gallery, and a rare 17th Century map of
Tokaido was shown at the New York Museum of Natural History.
After Harrison’s death in 1988, Jean worked assiduously
to dispose of his book and photography collections in a manner that
would preserve their integrity and benefit bibliophiles and students.
In 1995 Jean donated the Sir Thomas Phillipps Collection of books and
manuscripts to the Grolier Club in New York, which described it as the
largest and most important addition to the Club's library in its
history. In 1998 Jean donated Harrison's substantial collection of
early photographs and daguerreotypes to the Houghton Library at
Harvard, which, in 1999, mounted a major exhibition and symposium
entitled, "The Harrison D. Horblit Collection of Early Photography."
Continuing the steady support of Ridgefield's cultural, historical and
conservation organizations begun with her husband, Jean donated “The
Battle of Ridgefield,” a 1780 English print, to the Keeler Tavern in
Ridgefield, and supported the Ridgefield Historical Society’s efforts
to acquire and restore the Smith House. She also donated over 22
acres of land on the west side of Round Pond to the Land Conservancy
In 2004 Jean moved to Stonington, CT, quietly enjoying the wildlife and marine activity in Stonington Harbor from her kitchen window.
Jean had a life-long love of art, design, cooking, and the English language. She was devoted to her husband and his memory. Jean was a munificent hostess, possessed boundless grace, wit and generosity, and was an inspiration to friends and family, as well as being an Anagrams player extraordinaire.
Jean is survived by her sister Lillian Feinsilver of
Easton, PA, her sister-in-law Stephanie Mermin of Riverdale, New York,
her niece Cathy Klein and her husband Steve Grover, of Stonington, CT
and their children David Grover of Burlington, VT and Jess Grover of
New York City, who lived with her after the death of her husband.
Additional survivors include her step-children Richard Horblit of
Plymouth, MA and Victoria Gulker of Elkins, NH, and three generations
of nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brothers John,
Mike, Alvin, Sam, and Arthur Mermin, and her sisters Gertrude Vogel,
Frances Wildstein, and Mollie Klein.
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