November 26, 2014
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Men & Women of the Year

Meet nine dynamic people we honor for their major contributions to our community.

Photography by Alex Stafford

(page 1 of 8)

 

Olga Hirshhorn

ARTS PATRON

 

“I’ve tried a number of things just to show that I can do it, but nothing formal. Just doodling, nothing serious. I’m not a painter.”

Such is the character of one Olga Hirshhorn: strong. The 93-year-old’s walls are covered with artwork fighting for space, and she has been a well-known supporter of the arts in Naples, Martha’s Vineyard and, of course, Washington, D.C., where her late husband’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden resides. Her name has become synonymous with art, and yet it doesn’t define her. Take it all away and you’d still be left with a fascinating woman ready to share the story of a life that left few stones unturned.

 

Case in point: When she was 65 years old, she entered a tennis tournament in southern Coachella Valley, Calif.—and won.

“I have a pendant of the figure of a woman with a tennis racket. No one knows I have it, but I know I have it,” she says. “I remember walking home with my trophy and showing it to Mr. Hirshhorn and putting it on his dresser and saying, ‘See, I won it!’ He was very surprised. I was very surprised.”

Most gratifying experience: Buying an old, empty house and turning it into a treasure. … I had a wonderful house in Port Royal and sold it for a junky house, and my friends wondered what in the heck I was doing. Different career path: Journalism. I was editor of the school newspaper. … When I worked at the local paper, I got 25 cents an inch for what I wrote. I used to fill it up with names. Quality admired most in others: I like people who like to talk about themselves. That’s the way you get to know them better. People might not know: I used to enter the mile swim in Greenwich (Conn.) and always win it, even giving the other girls a head start. Guilty pleasure: Eating too much. I go out for lunch every day. Greatest regret: That I never went to college. If anyone was college material, I was. But I fell in love and married my English teacher a year out of high school.

—Cayla Stanley

 

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