Elaine Lorillard

Obituary of Elaine Lorillard

Elaine Lorillard, an artist, who with her husband Louis, founded the Newport Jazz Festival in the summer of 1954, died in her sleep early Monday morning. She was 93. The Newport Jazz Festival became the model for a worldwide circuit of outdoor music festivals. The Lorillards brought together for the first time in concert such greats as Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Erroll Garner, Gene Krupa, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, and Mary Lou Williams. Nearly 7,000 fans attended the first Newport Jazz Festival the nights of July 17 and 18 at the Newport Casino. According to Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, "Because it was held in Newport, it gave an aura of social distinction to jazz that it had never had before." The Lorillards led the nonprofit Newport Jazz Festival foundation for six years, providing financial support of their own and their friends. Elaine Guthrie was born in Tremont, Me, on October 11, 1914, the daughter of Walter and Eliza Pray Guthrie. She was a direct descendant of Efraim Coffin a founder of Nantucket. Her father owned a printing company in Boston and her mother was a classical pianist. Elaine Guthrie attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the Boston School of Fine Arts. In 1943, she joined the Red Cross and taught music and painting to orphans in liberated Naples, Italy, where she met United States Army Lt. Louis Livingston Lorillard, a descendant of Pierre Lorillard, who founded the P. Lorillard Tobacco company in 1760. They connected as New Englanders and discovered American jazz in the night clubs of Naples. The Lorillards were married in 1946, but later divorced. Mrs. Lorillard is survived by her children Pierre Livingston Lorillard of Los Angeles and Edith Lorillard Cowley of Newport, and grandchildren, Olivia L. C. Wassenaar and Savannah C. L. Cowley. In lieu of flowers, a small donation to the Newport Art Museum, of which she was once president, or the Newport Historical Society in Mrs. Lorillard's honor would be greatly appreciated. A lifelong Christian Scientist, she requested that there be no memorial service but a family internment.
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