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Local news — St. John
St. Thomas Philanthropist Patti Birch Dies in New York

Feb. 15, 2007 -- Philanthropist Patti Cadby Birch, who lived many years on St. Thomas and still maintained a condominium on the island, died Tuesday in New York.
News of Birch's death was received in a press release from the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts, where Birch was a trustee. No other information, such as Birch's age, was available at press time.
On Feb. 14, 1952, she married St. Thomas attorney Everett Birch in a ceremony performed on St. Thomas by Judge Alphonso Christian.
Everett Birch died in 1987. Patti Birch is survived by a daughter, Evet Birch.
St. Thomas businessman Paul Sabers called Patti Birch a "citizen of the world."
He said the Birches gave him a foot up in St. Thomas by helping him to open a restaurant in Charlotte Amalie's Palm Passage. Sabers said he later became a partner with the Birches in International Plaza.
"They were extremely generous with their time and resources," Sabers said Thursday. He said he traveled to Europe with the Birches, where they introduced him to the Who's Who of society.
He said the Birches lived on St. John before moving to St. Thomas. "They were real pioneers," Sabers said.
In St. Thomas, Birch helped fund the early years of what is now called The Forum -- at one point known as the Birch Forum.
"She was a wonderful supporter of The Forum and arts and music in St. Thomas," St. Thomas businessman Cornelius Prior said Thursday. Prior currently serves as chairman of The Forum, which funds arts and literary performances on St. Thomas.
St. Thomas businesswoman Suzanne Robinson remembers that Birch had a jewelry store in Palm Passage called Circe. "She was a real connoisseur of the arts and had a wonderful shop," Robinson said.
Birch contributed to museums and artistic endeavors at locations across the United States and elsewhere.
She served as a trustee at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and was an honorary trustee and benefactor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to her obituary in the New York Times, she was particularly interested in Islamic art but also contributed to 19th-century, modern and contemporary art.
She chaired the Metropolitan Museum's Friends of Islamic Art Group since its founding in 1994. A curator's post at the Metropolitan bears her name.
A statement from MoMA indicates that Birch became a trustee in 1995 and was elected an honorary trustee in 1998.
At the museum, she was a member of the International Council, the Chairman's Council and the Conservation Committee. Her name graces the Patti Cadby Birch Garden Plaza at the museum.
According to the museum statement, she will be remembered as a warm and gracious hostess.
In 2003 Birch donated $10,000 to the Amber Room in the Yekaterinsky Palace, located outside St. Petersburg, Russia, to purchase a collection of large, extremely rare pieces of amber used in framing the Amber Room's mosaics.
Her collection of Eastern ornaments hung at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
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