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Sonia (Sunny) (Phipps) Countess of Seherr - Thoss

Posted 2009-09-07 by Sharon
The Wickenburg Sun, Wickenburg, AZ
June 21, 2006, p. B8

Sonia “Sunny” (Phipps) Seherr-Thoss, a Wickenburg winter resident, was born Nov. 29, 1919 in New York. She died June 13 at her home after a brief illness.

Sonia P. Seherr-Thoss, whose husband was Hans Christoph Count of Seherr-Thoss, was a philanthropist, author, and public service activist. She is survived by a son, Bruce Christoph Farrell of Wayland, Mass.; a daughter, Wendy Farrell Victor of Palm Beach, Fla.; a stepson, Henry White Seherr-Thoss of New York City; five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

A memorial will take place at a time to be announced.

The burial in East Cemetery, Litchfield will be private.

There are no calling hours. The Rowe Funeral Home in Litchfield is in charge of the arrangement.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Wickenburg Community Hospital, the Litchfield Community Center, 421 Bantam Road, Litchfield, CONN 06759, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Sonia P. Seherr-Thoss was the granddaughter of Henry Phipps, a partner of steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie and the daughter of Henry Carnegie Phipps and Gladys Livingston Mills Phipps. Sonia P. Seherr-Thoss' mother and uncle Ogden Mills founded what would become Wheatly Stables, which under her mother's direction would be on several occasions the leading racing stable in the United States.

The Phipps family fortune resulted from the boyhood friendship in Pittsburgh between Andrew Carnegie, the son of a Scottish immigrant weaver, and Henry Phipps, the son of Scottish immigrant cobbler.

When the boys were in their 20s, Carnegie bought a piece of the Kloman Steel Forge and gave Henry Phipps a substantial interest for $800 for his role as the manager and bookkeeper. Years later, the Carnegie Steel Company was sold to J.P. Morgan to become U.S. Steel, and Henry Phipps received $50 million.

Henry Phipps put his fortune to work in philanthropy and found what is today Bessemer Securities, an investment company with long-standing activities in venture capital and buyouts, and Bessemer Trust that manages the assets of the Phipps family and those of other high net-worth individuals and families.

Henry Phipps established Phipps Houses, which is one of New York's largest providers of low-income housing, and Sonia Seherr-Thoss served on the board for many years and provided financial support to Phipps Houses.

Before his death, Henry Phipps gave away more than $10 million, supporting not only Phipps Houses but John Hopkins University, Penn University and the City of Pittsburgh.

Sonia Seherr-Thoss on her mother's side was descended from two prominent New York families. Ogden Darius Mills left New York prior to the California gold rush and became an advisor and banker to those who had struck it rich. He went on to found and head the Bank of California and was an investor in the railroads and timber lands. Moving back to New York, he met and married Ruth Livingston, who was descended from Robert Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who administered the oath of office to George Washington.

They lived in New York City and at Staatsburg on the Hudson River, where Sonia Seherr-Thoss' mother grew up. Staatsburg was given to New York and is now a state park. Sonia Seherr-Thoss continued until her death to support renovation and upkeep of the house and grounds.

Sonia Seherr-Thoss was a niece of Ogden Mills, Secretary of the Treasury and cousin of Raymond Guest, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.

Sonia P. Seherr-Thoss' boards and foundations include Connecticut Junior Republic, Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust, Litchfield Community Center, Litchfield High School Scholarship Association, Litchfield Historical Society, Oliver Wolcott Library, Phipps Houses, Sonia P. Seherr-Thoss Charitable Trust, Sonia P. Seherr-Thoss Foundation, Visiting Nurse Association of Litchfield and White Memorial Foundation and Conservation.

Awards include Distinguished Friend and Education Award, Litchfield Sports Booster Club, Paul Harris Fellow Award, White Memorial Foundation Conservation Award, and Wisdom Award.

Sonia P. Seherr-Thoss was a major benefactor in areas including Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, Congressional Church, Connecticut Junior Republic, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust, Litchfield Community Center, Susan B. Anthony Project, Tapping Reeve Law School, Warner Theater and the Wickenburg Community Hospital.

Note: These obituaries are transcribed as published and are submitted by volunteers who have no connection to the families. They do not write the obituaries and have no further information other than what is posted within the obituaries. We do not do personal research. For this you would have to find a volunteer who does this or hire a professional researcher.

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